Keeping your between meal bites healthy is something we all need to keep in check. Here are some ideas to make sure you’re on the right track…
It is always a questionable issue, to snack or not to snack? Some diets refer to snacking as a negative action, some say that little and often is the way to go, so how do we decide what to eat and when, and what is actually good for us?
As with anything in life it is essential that we know and listen to our body and mind and if we feel hungry maybe it is ok to fill that void at whatever time of day. However, if the go-to snack isn’t something nutritious and healthy then basically it is going to fall into the category of something we shouldn’t do. If it happens to be a piece of fruit, or anything that will increase the nutrient-density of our daily intake then how could it be wrong, right?
If we increase the sizes of our meals, and then snack in between our appetite will in turn increase. We want to avoid overeating so how about putting it into terms of need; what do we need? This is where we are all individual and unique. There is no ‘one way’ of eating that suits all people and so we are back to listening to our own body when it comes to what to eat, and when. Snacking can be something that can add to our daily nutrient intake rather than be something that we would consider ‘naughty’. If you’re going to eat three healthy meals per day and in between fill up on chocolate, cookies and confectionary then no, snacking is not a good idea. But if you construct a diet based on good, healthy, whole foods and in between your meal you have a healthy snack of something that your breakfast lunch or dinner didn’t include then it is an addition and an aide rather than a guilty pleasure.
The best diet anyone can have involves a wide range of plants, whether raw or cooked; as many fruits and vegetables as we can incorporate in a day is the way to go, combined with protein, whole grains, healthy fats and fibre. The timing of eating these is important as, for example, filling up right before bed is not ideal for digestion and can affect our sleep patterns. Also an important factor of diet is that it provides the energy we need to be able to function effectively. So if we are about to exercise and use a lot of that energy we might want to add some fuel by way of a banana dipped in peanut butter for example! Our bodies require balance and if we keep a close eye on what our body needs we should be able to gauge when and what to snack on. If experiencing an afternoon lull often people reach for the sugar to be able to snap out of it. But sugar need not come in the form of a donut or a chocolate bar, natural sugar can be found in all fruits. In this way snacking can manifest itself as an opportunity to maintain that balance and increase the overall nutrient density of your diet. For long-lasting energy we need to incorporate carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats, this combination will keep us feeling satisfied as well as provide the power we need to thrive.
If we are going to snack, another important factor to consider is the amount we eat; snacks are after all snacks not meals, so they should be – snack-sized! We don’t want to sabotage our appetite for our three meals so size does matter in this respect. Before you snack take a moment to consider when your next meal is going to be, if it is quite close then your snack needs to consist of something that will be digested quickly to ensure your appetite remains in tact. With this in mind a piece of fruit or vegetable will suffice, no need for protein or healthy fats. However, if you need to eat something to keep you going for a few hours until mealtime then a balance of carbs, healthy fats, and proteins is ideal.
So what should we snack on?
Fresh fruit and vegetables are the best snacks going. If it’s carrots, celery, red peppers, cucumber then a homemade hummus, tzatziki or baba ganoush dip can help to satisfy our flavour needs as well as deliver an array of nutrients.
Nuts and seeds are an amazing and essential source of healthy fats, fibre and nutrients. Make your own mix in a large glass jar including dried fruits for a perfect healthy snack. Combine all your favourites but make sure they are raw and unsalted; almonds, macadamias, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, raisins, cranberries, pineapple, mango, apple, apricots, etc.
Energy balls are also a delicious and nutritious snack if you have time to prepare them. They also keep in the fridge so if you make a big batch you can keep snacking on them all week.
Bananas or apple slices with raw or homemade nut butter are a great source of energy as well as a highly satisfying between meal snack.
A chia seed pudding with berries can give an energy boost as well as being a healthy option.
You could even just have a hard-boiled egg or half an avocado drenched in lemon juice; there are plenty of good snacks that can be beneficial to our overall diet and not compromise our meals.
Bottom line: Eat what you need when you need it.
Become a qualified Nutritional Therapist
Here at the School of Natural Health Sciences, the topic of nutrition is by far our most popular. We offer eight nutrition-based courses covering the follow topics:
- Child & Adolescent Nutrition
- Ethical & Sustainable Eating
- Clinical Nutrition
- Advanced Nutrition
- Nutrition for Age 50 Plus
- Plant-Based Nutrition
- Sport & Exercise Nutrition
- Vegetarian & Vegan Nutrition
If you’re not interested in Nutrition our course portfolio covers over 60 distance learning courses. Visit our A-Z Course Listing page.
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