If you get up early and have a full-on day and keep on going until you flop into bed at night, then it’s not surprising that you might grab a few snacks along the way. While you might want to cut down on snacking over mealtimes, you can also not ruin your diet by coming up with some healthy snack ideas.
Why do we snack?
Let’s face it snacking isn’t really about filling up on food; it’s about topping up your energy levels, perhaps during a mid-morning or mid-afternoon slump. However, it can also be about force of habit, trigger situations and environments, as well as emotionally lead. Often people snack out of boredom or because they are stressed or frustrated. If you are used to a certain routine then you might have built-in snacking into your schedule and view a snack as a treat.
It’s also the case that you might think you are hungry but actually you are just dehydrated. And another factor influencing snacking has to be availability. It’s so easy to grab a chocolate bar or some candy without thinking, and it’s also quite tempting too as snacks are designed to appeal and can take willpower to resist. Busy stay-home parents or those under pressure at work, can sometimes end up skipping meals and filling up on unhealthy snacks when they are too hungry to wait for their next meal.
Look at how you snack
Before you tackle your snacking you need to be aware of how you snack and what you snack on and why. Try keeping a food journal for a couple of weeks to get a clearer picture of when bad eating habits attack, so you can counter-attack. You might decide to change your lifestyle and become more active, and you might make sure that you have healthy snacks at the ready.
There are lots of intricate recipes for restaurant style snacks but to really sustain a healthy snacking diet you can actually keep it simple. The key is to have snacks at hand which are easy to prepare and grab:
Carrots & hummus: Peel a carrot and cut into small sticks or go for baby carrots instead, served raw with a hummus dip. Keep the carrots in a little water so they don’t dry up. All kids love carrots too so it’s a great snack for youngsters.
Peanuts & cranberries: These are so moreish. You need plain, unsalted peanuts and dried cranberries – fill a small tub and keep this with you so that you can grab a handful of natural protein and vitamins.
Nuts & raisins: They are juicy and sweet and a powerful antioxidant and with a selection of healthy nuts such as walnuts, almonds and cashews they make a great snack food that really gets your digestion working well.
Celery sticks & cottage cheese: Put some celery sticks in a jar of water in the middle of the table and you’ll be amazed at how tempting it is to grab one as you pass. A sprinkle of salt and some low fat cottage cheese adds some flavor too.
Chicken skewers & no fat Greek yoghurt: Marinade chicken breast in soy, honey, ginger and garlic, with some chili if you like a kick, and then thread on pre-soaked wooden skewers before grilling. You can eat these warm or cold and all they need is a cool dip. Fish works well too.
Sweet potato fries: Cut the sweet potato into fries and sprinkle with paprika. Bake in the oven on a tray until soft in the middle and a little crunchy outside. Not only are they healthier than deep-fat fried fries but so much tastier too.
Hard boiled eggs: Keep hard boiled eggs in the fridge so that when you go looking for easy snacks they will be there in sight. Shell and add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Because they are filling you will find that you don’t go looking for other snacks. When you’re hard boiling eggs put the eggs in cold water straightaway to stop that brown and purple discoloration.
Fruit bowls: A fruit bowl with a couple of past their best apples in is not going to tempt you so load it up and make your fruit bowl look like a veritable work of healthy art. That way it will really tempt you when you’re tempted by unhealthy grazing.
Perhaps the top tip is to make sure that your home is a snack-free zone too so that even if you want to indulge it’s not so easy.