To snack or not to snack…that is the question!
I’ve had several people ask for my opinion on snacks recently. You’ve likely heard conflicting thoughts on this – some people believe you should eat every few hours and others believe you should avoid snacks altogether (especially snacks eaten in the evening).
As you I know, I don’t believe in one-size-fits-all rules. If you are physically hungry then you need to eat, because if you don’t that hunger is going to get stronger and stronger until you are so ravenous that all good intentions go out the window and you will just craves carbs and sugar. Letting yourself get this ravenous also means it will be incredibly difficult to stop eating once you start.
However, if you just “want to eat” (eg. If it is your head or your mouth that want the food as opposed to your stomach – like when you weren’t thinking about food 2 minutes ago but now you’ve seen something you want), THEN the goal is to not eat and instead re-direct your attention towards a non-food related activity. I find drinking fizzy water quite helpful at these times because the bubbles keep your mouth and your brain occupied while not providing any calories.
As an interim strategy, some people recommend eating fruit or vegetables instead of say chocolate, biscuits or crisps. While this is certainly a healthier option, if your body is not physically hungry, then eating vegetables and fruit at this time means you are still eating food your body didn’t ask for and doesn’t need. While I definitely support people eating more vegetables and fruit, I also want them to be listening to what their body needs, so just wait and eat these foods when you are physically hungry.
Stuck for snack ideas? Here are a few to get you started. What you choose to eat, as well as the size of the snack, should really be dictated by how hungry you are and how long it is going to be before you eat again.
– fruit (although I don’t find fruit by itself to be enough if I’m hungry, so I usually pair it with about 12-15 nuts or some Greek yogurt)
– 12-15 nuts
– Protein balls (with at least 8 grams of protein per 100 gram serving)
– 0% fat Greek yogurt (plain or low sugar flavoured varieties) or Skyr
– Vegetables dipped in hummus
– Falafel dipped in hummus
– Seeded or Ryvita crackers or oatcakes topped with hummus, low fat cheese, low fat cottage cheese, flavoured tuna or peanut butter
– A high protein fruit smoothie
– John West Tuna creation sachets
– Hard boiled eggs with spinach or cherry tomatoes
– Greek salad
– a glass of milk or a low-calorie milky drink
What is your go-to healthy snack idea?