Although this seems like it should be a simple question, many people get confused about snacking. Unfortunately the answer is not a one size fits all. Whether you should snack or not depends on many factors; such as what you’ve eaten that day, how far away your next meal is or how much activity you’ve done and it may even change from day to day.
One easy way to find out is to just listen to your body. When you feel like reaching for something to eat, first ask yourself, ‘am I hungry?’.
If the answer is no then it’s worth double checking whether you might just be bored, stressed, thirsty, or any other reason we might want to eat. Instead of snacking in this case, you could try doing something to fix the real problem instead. For example, if you’re in the office and need a break from work then getting up and stretching your legs with a quick walk around might be better for boosting your productivity than a snack would have been.
However if you are genuinely hungry then having a snack is probably the best option for you to keep your energy levels up and avoid overeating at the next meal.
So if you do choose to snack, what should you snack on?
The best snacks are ‘real food’ ones that will sustain you appropriately until your next meal and provide you with nutrients. Having at least one of these on hand also means you’ll be less likely to reach for tempting less nutritious options when hunger strikes.
Here are a few examples of some healthy, nourishing snacks (choose one or combine a couple of them if you’re extra hungry):
- a piece of fruit
- a small handful of raw, unsalted nuts and seeds
- corn thins, vita-wheats or rye vitas with topping eg. low-fat cream cheese / ricotta / cottage cheese / hummus / fresh avocado + tomato or cucumber
- vegetable sticks with a healthy dip (eg. carrot / cucumber / capsicum / snow peas + hummus, tatziki, salsa or guacamole)
- a boiled egg
- a small handful of roast chickpeas
- small packet of air-popped popcorn
- a low sugar muesli bar
- plain Greek yoghurt with chopped fruit
The message is – listen to your body first, think about the best solution, act accordingly!