Health What type of snacker are you?
Match your habits with one of the samples below, then see how to snack smarter.
GRAZER “When I work from home at night, there are no distractions – except for all the junk food I keep,” says Amy Schlinger, 27, a writer. Sample day Breakfast Bagel with cream cheese. Lunch Nothing. Afternoon snacks 5 baked cinnamon sticks, handful of sunflower seeds, a 1 674kj bag of popcorn. Supper Spaghetti with tomato, grilled calamari and zucchini. Evening snacks Tomato and cucumber salad, 3 mini peanut butter chocolate cups, 2 biscuits, sunflower seeds. Snack totals 8 255kj, 90g fat, 71g sugar
The problem Amy’s bagel breakfast is the equivalent of nearly five pieces of bread, and has little satiating protein or fibre, setting her up to be hungry all day, says dietitian Stephanie Middleberg. “She’s getting a sugar high, crashing, then reaching for sugary snacks to boost her energy levels.”
The fix Grazers think that skipping meals saves kilojoules, but Stephanie says that they’re more likely to binge-eat later. Amy could’ve had a satisfying burrito bowl ( brown rice, beans, steak, veggies, salsa and cheese) for lunch, and a banana with Nutella as her snack, and still saved 4 720kj.
MEAL REPLACER “I hate preparing food,” says Michelle Malashock, 32, a communications manager. “I only have a real supper if my husband cooks.”
Sample day Breakfast Peanut butter meal-replacement bar. Lunch Saucy chicken enchiladas with sweet potato chips. Supper Chicken breast, 2 naartjies. Evening snack Strawberry nutrition bar with Greek yoghurt coating. Snack totals 1 715kj, 12g fat, 32g sugar
The problem The total snack kilojoules aren’t crazy, but they lack nutrients. “Michelle grabs whatever’s convenient when she’s hungry,” explains dietitian Rachel Beller. “Most of what she’s eating is devoid of filling fibre. Those bars are processed junk.” Even Michelle’s supper is unsatisfying.
The fix “Michelle doesn’t have to cook,” says Rachel. “She just needs to make better choices that are equally convenient.” If she eats a good breakfast, like peanut butter on wholewheat bread with a banana, she can have a lighter lunch. And at night, she could swap the bar for easy, pre-cut vegetables.
NIBBLER “I’m addicted to string cheese and homemade oat bars,” says Susan Patch, 33, an animal trainer at a zoo.
Sample day Breakfast Oats with milk, brown sugar, walnuts and cranberries; slice of wholewheat bread with butter and honey. Free lunch at work Hot dog, chips, 2 biscuits, string cheese, apple, oat bar. Afternoon snack 2 oat bars. Supper Roast chicken, Brussels sprouts, slice of bread with butter and jam. Snack totals 3 243kj, 24g fat, 61g sugar
The problem “Between lunch and supper, Susan is guilty of what I call a diet DUI: dining under the illusion that what she’s eating is good for her,” explains Rachel. The bars have healthy ingredients, like flax seeds, “but three of them add up to 2 510kj, 18g fat and 42g sugar.”
The fix Susan can enjoy the occasional freebie lunch, but she didn’t have supper until seven hours later. Of course she needed a snack! If Susan had planned to eat a satisfying, healthy supper sooner, (for example, 100g chicken, 2 cups veggies and wholewheat bread) advises Rachel, she could’ve tided herself over with one bar.