Healthy Snacking Options to Support Your Goals
Looking for healthy alternatives to your everyday snacks? Check out these wholesome treats that manage to be both healthy and tasty!
The term ‘snack’ is so broad. It covers pretty much the whole spectrum of food: a packet of chips, a piece of fruit, a sandwich, a muesli bar…you name it.
As Elora states in another blog post, there are a lot of healthy snacks out there. The key is knowing what to snack on.
Why we snack?
Snacking is the result of many factors, but a lot comes down to how we eat in general. Take breakfast for example. It’s widely accepted that a nourishing breakfast sets the scene for the rest of the day.
However, the majority of cereals, toast, and other grain-based meals cause an immediate burst of energy. Then, an hour later, our blood glucose levels dip, which leaves us in a hungry, cranky, lethargic spiral.
Naturally, this leads to us reaching for something quick and easy to satiate our appetite and give us that much-needed energy boost to help us through to lunchtime.
If lunch is along the same line as breakfast, with little in the way of fat or protein, we fall into the same trap and repeat the cycle sometime in the afternoon. Breaking this cycle can be hard but choosing healthy snacks with the right blend of energy and sustenance is a great start.
Healthy Snacking Options
Be aware of your diet
As mentioned, the desire to snack can be due to not fuelling up adequately at meal time, which results in blood sugar levels going awry and affecting your concentration levels, energy and mood. It could also be down to habit, boredom or emotional eating.
By being more aware of the food you consume, you will naturally improve the choices you make. For example, it pays to know that the best snacks are high in protein, nutrients and healthy fats.
Some people find that it helps to write out everything they eat and then evaluate the nutrition levels each day. Looking at the protein, fat or sugar levels and patterns can help you figure out where you need to make changes.
Pick the healthy snack options
Armed with this knowledge, it then becomes easier to spot the healthier snack options. For some extra protein and fat that will help keep you full, a small handful of nuts or seeds are a fantastic choice. Simply pop them in a container and eat a few throughout the day whenever you crave a snack.
Boiled eggs, although a bit stinky, are an affordable option and easy to prepare in advance. Seaweed is another option, which may seem a bit quirky but it’s high in protein and minerals and can be eaten alongside nuts and seeds. NZ Karengo is a firm favourite. And in the cooler months, a thermos of hot homemade soup can be like a cuddle in a cup.
For other on-the-go options, consider those commercial ‘snack balls’ or nutrient-dense snack bars you can find in all good health food stores. Packed with nuts and seeds, cacao and other delicious ingredients, with only small amounts of dried fruits and sweeteners. These snack balls and nutrient bars make a healthy alternative to processed chocolate and muesli bars, which can be very high in sugar.
To get through your sweet cravings, take a handful of fresh fruit and berries to the office for a quick hit in the afternoon. Dried fruit is another option but it’s generally higher in sugar. It’s also much easier to eat 6 dried apricots than 6 fresh apricots, so serving sizes should be considered. These are a better option than your bog standard sweets like M&Ms or Skittles. There’s nothing wrong with a small amount of chocolate in your normal diet, especially if it is over 70% cocoa, and even better if it is organic.
A lot of people don’t associate vegetables with snacks but some raw vegetables with a hummus or alternative dip makes a fantastic snack. Even choosing kale crisps over a packet of normal potato chips helps. Biltong is making a resurgence thanks to those following paleo diets, and gelatin gummies have been taking up a lot of space on Instagram feeds around the world lately.
Go to the supermarket prepared
What you buy at the supermarket is crucial and will obviously dictate a large proportion of your diet. As Elora states here, it pays to avoid the processed foods filled with hidden sugars, salts and preservatives by skirting around the middle aisles, where these snacks normally reside, as much as possible.
Sticking rigidly to your shopping list and to never go to the supermarket when you’re hungry are good tips, or else your stomach will overrule your head and leave you with a lot of impulse buys! Online shopping can be useful for solving this problem.
Hopefully these tips will help you snack better. For more about diet and many more health and wellbeing tips, don’t miss HealthPost’s Expert Health Tips, which includes some great advice from Elora herself!
Liz Jury, HealthPost Naturopath
Healthpost’s Liz Jury is a Registered Naturopath with 16 years of experience in natural health. Liz has an extensive background within the Natural Health Industry and has enjoyed commercial and voluntary roles, including as a practitioner in a community clinic, a tutor at Naturopathic schools, a co-host of a radio show on Mind-Body wellness, and within the industry helping formulate product and advise on policy. Liz enjoys making information easy to understand for busy people wanting a healthy happy life and believes coffee and dark chocolate play an essential role.