Snack­ing smart

There’s no need to de­prive your­self be­tween meals – you just need to choose your snacks wisely, ex­plains Sharon Hunt.

The Australian Women's Weekly - - Health -

The days of three square meals are long gone. A thought­fully-cho­sen snack can tide you over be­tween meals and keep your me­tab­o­lism fir­ing on all cylin­ders. How­ever, where many of us come un­stuck is our snack se­lec­tion. Ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralian Bureau of Sta­tis­tics, more than a third of our av­er­age en­ergy in­take comes from “dis­cre­tionary foods”, in other words bis­cuits, chips and con­fec­tionery. In or­der to snack smarter, di­eti­tian Jes­sica Spendlove says our per­cep­tion of snacks as “guilty treats” needs a read­just­ment. “When done well, snacks can add much nu­tri­tional value and boost en­ergy lev­els,” Jes­sica says. “But when done poorly they of­fer min­i­mal nu­tri­tional value and ex­cess kilo­joule in­take, lead­ing to a drop in en­ergy lev­els.” Be­fore your next snack at­tack hits, con­sider these nu­tri­tion­ist-rec­om­mended cri­te­ria.

Pow­ered by pro­tein

“The ben­e­fit of a pro­tein-rich snack is to man­age ap­petite, sta­bilise blood sugar and keep you sat­is­fied into the af­ter­noon and evening,” Jes­sica ex­plains. They also ward off those 3pm sugar crav­ings. “When our en­ergy and blood sugar drops we crave sugar to pick us up,” says nu­tri­tion­ist Fiona Tuck. “Pro­tein helps main­tain en­ergy and prevent these drops.” A hand­ful of nuts or a boiled egg does the trick. Crav­ing choco­late? Try a low-sugar pro­tein bar like Aussie Bod­ies Lo Carb Whip’d, $3.99 (left).

Go for grains

When true hunger pangs strike, you need a whole­some snack that’s go­ing to sat­isfy. (Oth­er­wise you’ll in­evitably find your­self reach­ing for the bickie tin!) Whole­grain foods do just that, but Fiona warns against heav­ily-pro­cessed grain snacks such as white bread or sug­ary ce­re­als “Look for prod­ucts where you can see the whole seeds, nuts and grains,” she ad­vises. Whole­grain foods fill you up and boost en­ergy, with the bonus of a fi­bre hit.

Tally up

Health guide­lines ad­vise women con­sume five serves of veg­eta­bles and two of fruit daily – yet most of us are way off the mark. “Snacks are a great chance to top up on foods or nu­tri­ents which peo­ple are of­ten lack­ing in their diet, such as veg­eta­bles and whole fruit,” says Jes­sica. Grab-and-go fruits like ba­nanas and ap­ples are clas­sics, or mix it up with veg­gie cru­dités and ice-blended smooth­ies.

Un­lock the com­bi­na­tion

The holy grail of snacks com­bine pro­tein, fat and car­bo­hy­drate, which when con­sumed to­gether keep you sat­is­fied for longer. “Pro­tein main­tains en­ergy, fats help us feel sa­ti­ated and slow the re­lease of sug­ars from the carbs (as do pro­teins) help­ing prevent blood sugar highs and lows which can af­fect our en­ergy, hunger, mood and hor­mones,” says Jes­sica. Think cheese on grain crack­ers, peanut but­ter and ba­nana whole­meal toast or yoghurt with berries and muesli.

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