08 April 2020
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

Healthy snacking

February 12, 2008

Not everyone needs to snack, for some three square meals a day works out just fine, but for those of us who find ourselves reaching for the chocolate, here’s the low-down on how best to manage the munchies.

healthy-snacks-anchor2.pngLunch feels like a distant memory and dinner is hours away. Your hand creeps towards the biscuit tin and before you know it, you’ve devoured three cookies and you’re eyeing up a fourth. What’s going wrong?

The first thing to explain is that it’s not bad to snack. The problem is when it turns into constant grazing or your snack of choice is a highly processed food like a chocolate bar/crisps/muffin (delete as appropriate). The remedy? Pinpoint why you are snacking and, if it’s for real, go ahead and check out the list of healthy snack ideas below.

You snack because you’re always hungry!

Begin by looking at your breakfast and lunch menu; are you eating enough of the right foods? If you’re getting hungry very quickly after meals or not feeling satisfied at all, you may be getting the balance between your carbohydrates and protein wrong. We’re all unique, you’re the person best qualified to find out what works for your body. Experiment with your portions until you feel satisfied; try taking the top slice of bread off your sandwich and eating it open or buy some extra chicken, fish or seeds to add to your salad.

If you’re trying to lose weight you may be cutting down on your calories too drastically, plan to eat cleanly with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and lean meat and fish and avoid processed foods and you shouldn’t need to count the calories.

You snack because you’re exhausted/tired

You feel like you’ve barely slept, but you’ve got a days work ahead so you spend your day downing tea and coffee and eating anything and everything in sight in the hope that it will get you through. This is not a great idea. You’ll find all that tea and coffee will make you dehydrated making it even harder to concentrate and all the stodgy snacks will send sugar levels on a rollercoaster ride. You’d be better off gluggling your way through a couple of litres of water and getting an early night – something you’ll also struggle to do with too much caffeine in your system.

You snack because you’re bored

You’ve got a pile of mindless admin to get through, what better way to liven it up than by indulging in you’re favourite treats? We’ve all been there, but step away from the fridge!

The best thing to do is to recognize it for what it is and talk your self out of it. If you’re at work get a colleague to hide the unhealthy snacks or, if you can, put some head phones on and distract yourself with some music; if you’re at home pick up a good book, phone a friend or walk the dog. Eating shouldn’t be a mindless activity!

Sensible snacks

Including a snack in your day can help to keep your blood sugar levels stable and your energy levels and concentration up. It’s a long time between lunch and dinner so a healthy snack in between can make all the difference. The key point to remember is this is a ‘snack’ not a meal, so keep an eye on your portion sizes.

Here are some of my favourite snacks:

  • 1 small tub of natural, organic yoghurt sprinkled with fruit and nuts
  • 2 slices of parma ham and a small slice of melon
  • Small handful of unsalted nuts with a piece of fruit
  • 1 small flapjack – it’s high in calories, but the oats are good for digestion and slow down sugar spikes
  • 2 squares of dark chocolate and 2 unsalted brazil nuts
  • A handful of trailmix – nuts and dried fruit
  • 2 rye biscuits or oatcakes with a spoonful of humous or marmite
  • 2 spoonfuls of muesli with soya milk and chopped fruit
  • 1 celery stick dipped in peanut butter
  • 1 carrot with a spoonful of guacamole sprinkled with seeds
  • Hard boiled egg and a slice of rye bread • 2 bacon wrapped prunes
  • Frozen banana – cut into sections, put back in its skin, allow to freeze and it’s a great, healthy alternative to ice-cream

Happy snacking!

Alex Hazell, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

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