There are always mixed opinions when it comes to snacking. Some think that snacking is a quick route to weight gain. However, numerous studies have proven that a good diet includes snacking as part of a regular eating routine.
Snacking can also help keep your hunger levels balanced, especially on those days when your meals are spaced apart.
Choosing the right snacks
Those with a negative view of snacking often associate it with fatty and sugary foods like crisps, chocolate, and sweets.
However, snacking simply means to eat or drink something between meals, and simply by choosing low-calorie, nutrient-rich food or drinks, you can maintain a healthy lifestyle.
In general, it is best to eat snacks that provide about 200 calories and contain at least 7-10 grams of protein to help you stay full until your next meal.
The added protein signals the release of appetite-suppressing hormones, helps slow digestion, and stabilises your blood sugar levels.
As for how often you need to snack, it may vary depending on your current activity level and regular meal intake.
If you're very active, you may prefer two to three snacks per day, while a more sedentary person may do best with one snack break a day to reduce the risk of overeating.
Remember to keep snacks that you can easily bring with you when you are out doing errands or travelling, in case hunger strikes you. You can pack a healthy snack for the office so that you are able to avoid the temptation of processed, high-sugar foods when you need a boost of energy throughout the day.
Healthy snack options
Here are 10 choices of snacks that you can much on without worrying about ruining your appetite in between meals. And best of all, they're completely healthy!
1. Mixed nuts - Nuts are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and may help prevent certain cancers. Nuts also provide the perfect balance of healthy fat, protein and fibre. On average, they contain around 180 calories in a 28 gram serving. (Shop premium quality nuts and superfood HERE)
2. Dark chocolate and almonds - Dark chocolate contains flavanols that helps lower blood pressure and reduce heart disease risk, while almonds are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and have beneficial effects on blood sugar control. About 30 grams provides about 300 calories.
3. Chia pudding - Chia seeds are loaded with fibre and antioxidants, and have a jelly-like consistency when soaked in liquid. You can make your own yummy snack by soaking chia seeds in water for at least 30 minutes, then adding cocoa powder, peanut butter and sweetener.
4. Greek yogurt - Packed full of protein, Greek yogurt is the simplest snack to consume if you're pressed for time. Try adding a drizzle of honey or cinnamon, mixed in with chopped up fruit.
5. Whole Grain Cereal - There's no reason that cereal should just be for breakfast. Pack a suitable portion to munch on while you go about your day. You can even add dried fruit like raisins and cranberries or even some nuts for some added nutrition.
6. Hard boiled eggs - Two hard boiled eggs contain 13 grams of protein and are rich in vitamin B12 and K. They also keep you fuller for longer, allowing you to control your food portions. Two eggs are roughly 140 calories.
7. Peanut butter - Just a spoonful of peanut butter, spread over toast or on apple slices, can satisfy your cravings while also providing you with healthy fats.
8. Hummus - If you're trying to get more vegetables in your diet, try dipping broccoli, celery sticks or chopped carrots into hummus for a filling snack that provides you with key nutrients for brain development.
9. Trail mix - Trail mix that contains nuts, dark chocolate, seeds and other healthy food can give you a variety of different nutrients to improve brain function and development.
10. Fruits - Both fresh and dried fruits are good as snacks. With dried fruits however, they are easier to pack, but are also more concentrated and packed with nutrients so moderation is the key. A single serving of fruits, such as an apple, banana, orange, or even a handful of dried dates or apricots, ensures you get a boost of vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants.
For more ideas on what healthy foods to include as part of your next afternoon snack, click here.