We all know how hard it is to keep the nibbles at bay and this has been made even worse by the current lockdown and being at home so much more. As a friend said to me only yesterday ‘I’ll nip into the kitchen and make a coffee and have a biscuit, then I’ll have a tea and a biscuit, then I’ll just have the biscuit’! It made me laugh but it’s very true. It’s all too easy to overeat and we quite often don’t realise how these little snacks add up throughout the day.
Why do we snack?
Boredom and thirst are the two main reasons why we snack so if we try to eliminate those, that’s half the battle. When we are bored, snacking gives us something to do, relinquishing the feeling of boredom for a few minutes as well as raising our dopamine levels. Dopamine is a feel-good neurotransmitter which simulates how we feel pleasure, meaning that we will snack because it makes us happy and satisfied for a short time, and because we want to keep that feeling, we keep snacking. With thirst, the brain cannot distinguish between hunger and thirst so, often, we snack when what we really need, is water. Always have a glass of water first to see if that satisfies you.
How to track my snacks?
A good way to get your healthy eating and snacking back on track is by keeping a food diary. Be completely honest and write down everything that you eat. This is the best way to see how much you are eating in a day. It only takes one or two unhealthy snacks to send your calorie intake soaring. Now you can set about making changes so that you are eating healthier foods without being hungry. We often choose meals which are tasty and moreish but have little nutritional value. While that is ok now and again, it’s important to remember why we need to eat to right foods. Food is fuel for our bodies, keeping us healthy, full of energy and functioning so try to include foods which you not only like, but are nutrient dense and contain lots of vitamins and minerals, to give your body nourishment and keep you healthy. If you are eating the correct amount of calories within your healthy meals, you shouldn’t need to snack in between but if you do fancy something, that’s okay! This blog is going to look at healthy swaps so that you can still enjoy eating snacks but without the high calorie, high fat and high sugar content (although these high calorie / fat / sugar foods can still certainly be enjoyed in moderation, as part of a healthy diet!)
- Swap grapes for raspberries. Grapes have 4g of sugar and 0g of fibre per 10 grapes whist raspberries have 0.8g of sugar and 1.2g of fibre per 10.
- Swap orange juice for water with slices of lemon and lime (or any fruit that you fancy). A glass of orange juice can contain up to 24g of sugar. Fruit is always healthier eaten in its natural form.
- Swap crisps for air-popped popcorn (not the flavoured, sugar laden varieties), one of the healthier types of crisps such as Aldi lentil curls which have 91 calories, 0.4g saturated fat and 0.8g sugar per packet, or a handful of nuts and seeds. It’s easy to make your own vegetable crisps by thinly slicing vegetables and roasting in the oven with a little olive oil and salt.
- Swap chocolate for dark chocolate. If you can’t manage without chocolate, then opt for dark chocolate as this is also rich in antioxidants and minerals and contains less sugar.
- Swap biscuits for rice cakes which contain an average of 3 calories, 0.2g of fat and 0.3g of sugar each. Add a little peanut butter or try one of the flavoured rice cakes such as salt and vinegar. Packs of mini breadsticks are another good swap for biscuits or crisps because they are still crunchy and contain on average 84 calories, 1.8g of fat and 0.6g sugar per 20g pack.
Other ideas for healthy snacks include:
- Slices of apple dipped in a little peanut butter (watch the amount of peanut butter!).
- Chop up different fruits and have a bowl ready in the fridge or make fruit kebabs. You can use tinned fruit for these as well, as long as it is in its own juice.
- Greek yogurt with blueberries or any other berries (blueberries are my favourite 😊 ).
- Vegetable sticks or toasted pitta with a little hummus (this is easy to make at home by blending 400g chickpeas (drained), 1 tsp tahini paste, 2 tbsp Greek yogurt, a pinch of cayenne pepper, 1 garlic clove and the juice of half a lemon in a blender. Add extra seasoning if needed.
- Toasted wholemeal muffin with a scraping of butter (or peanut butter) or a little mashed banana.
- Wholegrain crackers with cottage cheese.
- Sugar free jelly.
- Ice lollies made from Greek yogurt flavoured with fruit.
The recommended daily amount of sugar for a woman is 25g and a snickers bar has 245 calories, 13.4g of fat and 21.6g of sugar (almost the complete daily allowance) so it’s better for your health to try some of the healthy snacks above.
Have a look at our blog on delicious healthy snacks.
Remember to let us know of any heathy snacks that you enjoy 😊
Caroline & Hannah xx