When we walk down the supermarket snack food aisle today, we’re bombarded with supposedly healthy snack foods claiming to be good for us. Confused about what makes or breaks a healthy snack? Nutritionist and GoodnessMe Box Health Editor Melissa Fine shares some things to be mindful of when it comes to choosing what to graze on.
image via pinterest
1. High volumes of dried fruit:
There’s nothing wrong with a handful of dried fruit every now and then, but when it’s compressed into a bar, it’s easy to overeat. Eating four dried apricots in one sitting for instance is easy to do, but would you eat four fresh apricots in one go? Apart from being bad for your teeth, too much dried fruit might upset your stomach, as it’s a concentrated source of fibre and fermentable sugars. When choosing a snack bar, opt for one that is not entirely based on dried fruit, with extra ingredients like raw nuts, oats and coconut. Or, enjoy a piece of fresh fruit; Pair it with a handful of raw nuts or a dollop of unsweetened yoghurt to make it more satiating.
2. Anything labeled ‘low fat’:
Low fat yoghurts are the perfect example; Sure the fat’s been taken out of them, but to compensate for the full-bodied flavour and mouth-feel that fat provides, they’re loaded with things like refined sugar and synthetic thickeners. Diet yoghurts are no better; Although they’re sugar free, they also contain artificial sweeteners and a heap of other unnatural ingredients that you wouldn’t find in your pantry or the supermarket. Diet yoghurts also tend to have a chemically after taste, so you’re left feeling unsatisfied. When it comes to yoghurt, opt for the natural, unsweetened full fat varieties…Because they’re the real thing, you may just find that a small serving is all you need to feel content.
3. Anything that’s puffed:
Take rice cakes for instance; Because they’re so light and airy, it’s easy to lose count of how many of these we’ve munched on. Plus, both white and brown rice cakes have a high GI, so when eaten plain, they’re moreish without being satisfying. The good news is you don’t have to give up your rice cakes – They can be a good snack option provided you limit yourself to a couple and pair them with a tasty spread like hummus or almond butter for some healthy fats and protein.
4. Liquid snacks:
It’s easy to forget that things that come in a cup or popper contain kilojoules. Whether it’s a coffee or juice, it’s best to order the smallest size; Sip it slowly and enjoy it sitting down (not at the computer) so that you register that you’re having your snack. When it comes to coffee, avoid syrups and sugar – top your latte with cinnamon instead. And like dried fruit, it’s easy to consume too much when fruit juices and smoothies are concerned. Also, because the fibre in fruit is generally removed with juicing, you’re left with a lot of sugar, leading to a short-lived blood sugar spike and a grumbling stomach half an hour after you’ve downed your drink. If you’re a fan of fresh juice, opt for a one that is full of green vegetables like spinach and kale, and with just with a small amount of fruit; Pair it with a handful of raw nuts for some extra protein and fibre and see if you feel fuller for longer.
5. Your snacking behavior:
It’s not just what you snack on, but how you snack. Even if your snack is a healthy one, if you’re eating it on your feet, at your work desk, in front of the TV or while on your mobile, it’s easy to eat absentmindedly so that your snack has disappeared without you realising. When time permits, make a point of chewing each mouthful of your snack several times and acknowledging its colours, flavours and textures. Snacking mindfully means you’re far less likely to want to reach for a second serving.
If you’re feeling inspired to change your snacking habits, here’s Melissa Fine’s energising Green Smoothie Recipe to get you started on a new track.
Green Smoothie Recipe
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2 handfuls fresh spinach
Half a medium frozen banana, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup coconut water (I like the Raw C brand)
1 tsp greens powder, like Nu Zest’s Clean Green Stuff (optional)
1 tsp ground flaxseed/ LSA or a seed and grain sprinkle like MUMA (This stuff is awesome – You can buy it direct online)
Handful of ice cubes
1. Place the spinach and then the rest of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
2. Enjoy! This can easily be made in the morning and taken to work in a jar, drink bottle or protein shaker for a morning or afternoon snack.
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