Wow, this week has flown by. I’ve just finished my first week of clinical placement and boy it’s been a full on, interesting and stressful week. How do people handle working full-time? I’m absolutely shattered. Snacking has come up in conversation quite a bit this week on the wards and at morning tea, so it’s something I’ve thought about each day after finishing work famished.
So to snack or not to snack? This has to be one of the most common questions I get asked and unfortunately it doesn’t have a straightforward yes or no answer. You see like so many things with nutrition, this depends on you as an individual. So let’s break it down… I’ll first chat about what you should consider before snacking, the pros and cons, then share some examples of some nutritious, yummy snacking choices.
Things to consider when deciding if snacking is right for you…
- Are you getting enough protein, fat and carbohydrates in your main meals? If you’re feeling hungry within 2-4 hours of eating one of your main meals it may be that you’re not consuming enough protein or healthy fats to keep you feeling full until that next meal. The most common downfall I see is carbohydrate heavy breakfasts lacking protein and fats. Don’t worry you don’t need to go out and buy a protein powder (although the addition of a high quality protein powder to oats and smoothies can be an excellent way to boost your protein intake). Protein containing foods include nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy products and meat. Obviously not everyone has time to make a savoury breakfast in the morning (if you do try making an omelette, scrambled eggs or frittata) adding 1-2 tbsp of nuts & seeds and/or yogurt to your breakfast is an easy way to increase your intake of protein and healthy fats.
- Would you prefer to eat five smaller meals or three main meals a day? Remember a snack is meant to be a snack not another meal. Consider this when you’re next munching away, is this a wee portion to tide you over until your next main meal or could this be considered a meal? Some people are better suited to eating five smaller meals rather than three main meals with the addition of a few occasional snacks here and there. I hope you can see from this post, how it really does come down to you -learning how to tune back into your hunger cues and figure out what suits you best can be harder said than done, especially if everyone’s having morning tea and afternoon tea in the office. Try experimenting for a few weeks and see if you can work out what suits you best. Before reaching for that mid morning snack or afternoon pick me up, consider are you actually hungry or are you just munching away because it’s almost expected of you? Obviously occasions such as birthdays and whatnot are different and sometimes you just really feel like a mid week treat and that’s completely okay too!
- How physically active are you? Unless you have an active job and are on your feet all day, you most likely won’t need to be snacking throughout the day. Although I’ve definitely found that just because you’re not physically active at work doesn’t mean you’re not starving by the end of the day… I’ll touch on this later.
Pros and Cons of Snacking…
Pros: If you have a highly demanding and busy job, healthy snacks can provide an ideal way to keep your energy levels sustained throughout the day, without over-eating later on in the day. Snacking can also help keep your blood sugar levels stable and prevent you from over eating later on in the day. If you struggle with emotional or binge eating, snacking can help overcome this. If you finish work ravenous (as I have been this last week), having an after work pre-gym and dinner snack may be just what you need to prevent you from demolishing half the pantry while you prepare dinner.
Cons: With the large amount of highly processed, high energy snacks available, snacking can wreck havoc on our blood sugars, focus, sleep and can lead to weight gain. If you’re constantly munching throughout the day, feeling tired and flat, having difficulty sleeping or shedding those pesky few kilos this may be an indication that your snack choices might not be suited to meeting your energy and lifestyle demands.
Nutritious Snack Ideas…
My top tips for when snacking would be to include a source of protein, a little healthy fat and to try and keep the refined carbohydrates (biscuits, crackers, chips) to a minimum. Don’t forget to try and keep it simple -there’s no reason to complicate things, grabbing a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts is an ideal snack in my book! A wee note on bliss balls, bliss balls can definitely be a quick and easy snack to grab -just keep in mind store bought ones are often 90% dates, containing minimal amounts of fibre, protein and healthy fats. Instead of suffering from a blood sugar crash an hour later you could try pairing a bliss ball with some peanut butter or one of the options below.
Ten Snack Options:
- A piece of fruit & nut butter.
- Veggie sticks and hummus.
- Boiled eggs -I love jammy eggs, give them a quick google search.
- Homemade popcorn and a small handful of mixed nuts.
- Mini frittata’s -make a batch at the start of the week to grab and go.
- Roasted chickpeas -toss chickpeas in your choice of spices (I like paprika and cumin) and roast in the oven until crunchy.
- Yogurt with a small handful of nuts and seeds mixed through.
- Cheese with fruit and veggie sticks.
- Seedy crackers (I use this recipe here) with your choice of dip or guacamole.
- Chia seed puddings –these don’t just have to be a breakfast food, can be prepped well in advance and contain healthy fats and fibre.
BONUS: A cheeky piece of dark chocolate and Pic’s smooth peanut butter -because sometimes only chocolate will do.
I hope you found this post a wee bit helpful, let me know how you get on or if you have any questions or delicious snack ideas -I’d love to hear them! Disclaimer -I have absolutely nothing against snacking and I think if it suits you go for it!
Have a great week,