Next time you reach for a stamina-boosting snack, load up on energy, not fat. Dietitian Joanne Turner serves up your best options.
It’s 4pm, and as you feel your concentration flagging, your tummy starts to rumble and thoughts of tasty snacks spring to mind. You try to resist at first, but the thoughts keep nagging at you, so what should you eat?
Snacking has a bad reputation, but not every between-meal bite leads to weight gain. Yes — the wrong snack gives you only a fleeting moment of pleasure (a moment on the lips), which may well linger as unwelcome weight gain (a few kilos on the hips?). But the right snack not only gives you the energy and brainpower you need to make it to the next meal, but also stops you from becoming so ravenous that you overeat at that meal. Try these easy tips for smarter snacking.
Nourish with nibbles
Prepare a healthy platter that’s packed with energising nutrients. Dip cucumber, carrot and celery sticks, grape tomatoes and pickled vegies (such as onions, olives or artichoke hearts) into tomato relish or low-fat tzatziki for extra pizazz!
Listen to your body’s cues
It’s easy to mistake thirst for hunger. Before you snack or go back for seconds, drink some water or herbal tea and wait for 10 minutes. If your stomach’s still growling, choose one of the snacks on these pages.
By label savvy
It’s important to read food labels so you know what you’re putting in your body. Nutrition information can be tricky to decipher, so keep it simple: Choose a snack that’s 400 to 600kJ (about 100 to 150cal) and ensure that your portion isn’t larger than the recommended serving size.
Stock up on frozen fruit
Bring a little sunshine to your winter: Stash frozen summer fruits, such as berries, pineapple and mango, in the freezer for an instant snack. Love smoothies? Blitz frozen fruit in a blender with skim milk and a dollop of low-fat yoghurt. You can also buy in-season fruit in bulk and freeze it in snap-lock bags or airtight containers.
Build strong bones
Choose two or three of these options to get your daily serves of dairy: a glass of reduced-fat milk, a tub of low-fat yoghurt, or a few crackers topped with two slices of reduced-fat cheese.
Put your portions in proportion
Can’t stop munching ’til the packet’s empty? Portion control could be a problem. Buy snack packs, small tubs of yoghurt or pieces of fresh fruit. Budget tip: Stock up on mini plastic containers and divide your bulk-buy items into single serves to store or take to work.
If you suspect your main meals are lacking in vegies, drink some of your day’s veg as an energising smoothie! Whiz any combo of cucumber, celery, baby spinach or kale, ginger, mint, lemon juice and coconut water — they’re all filled with so many vitamins and minerals, your body will want to jump for joy!
Pop your own
Don’t drown your popcorn in butter and salt — the healthiest popcorn is full of hot air! If you don’t have a popcorn maker, simply place 1/4 cup of popping kernels in a brown paper bag, fold the edges to seal and microwave it on high for two minutes, or until most of the kernels have popped. Add a sprinkling of curry powder or Mexican seasoning, or just enjoy it au naturel!
Outsmart salt cravings
Overindulging in salty foods can overstimulate your taste buds, making you crave even more salt. If you love chips, try our quick and easy Kale chips ADD LINK /recipes/2014/july/kale-chips for a tasty, crunchy (and healthy!) fix.
Plan your snack attack
If stress or boredom at work finds you at the biscuit jar come 3pm (irrespective of your appetite!), distract yourself with a brisk walk or a cup of herbal tea.
Toast your health at happy hour
Like to kick off the weekend with a few Friday-night drinks? Swap your cocktail for a mocktail, and your spirits for a spritzer. The less alcohol in your glass, the more you’ll cut sugar and kilojoules. And you can always sip sparkling water with a wedge of lemon or lime. Cheers!
Cherish your choc
Chocolate cravings can strike at any time, particularly in the afternoon and after dinner. Again, portion control is key, as three squares have about the same number of kilojoules as an apple does. So eat it slowly and mindfully — savour every melting mouthful!
Slim your coffee run
If your mid-morning snack is a large milky coffee, you could be consuming more fat and kilojoules than you think. Opt for skim milk and switch to a sugar substitute or forgo sugar altogether. If your morning coffee run isn’t complete without a sweet bite, share a slice of raisin toast or a small fruit scone with a friend.