Healthy High Dos ‘n’ don’ts of snacking!
Luke Coutinho drags snacking under the nutrition lens and decodes its dos ‘n’ don’ts.
IS SNACKING GOOD OR BAD?
Not all snacking is unhealthy and it is important to get the right balance – which is to choose the right snacks, keep the portions small and snack at appropriate times. Eating healthy snacks like nuts and granola bars can be good for you, but most people choose the unhealthy options like chips, biscuits and oily food.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SNACKS
— When you’re out in the market buying readymade snacks (granola bars, trail mixes, nut butters etc), watch the amount of fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar in your snacks, as well as calorie content – look at the labels very carefully before popping that snack into your shopping basket. A lot of times, innocent looking ‘healthy snacks’ are loaded with some really nasty ingredients.
— Opt for simple variants in snacks. For example, trade your microwave popcorn (which is loaded with salt and butter) with the unsalted variant. Trade salted trail mixes with their unsalted variants. Simple swaps like these go a long way in managing weight and other lifestyle diseases.
— We make some really poor decisions (and food choices) when we’re hungry, so plan ahead – if you tend to need a mid-morning or 4 p.m snack to satisfy your hunger until the next big meal, then planning ahead may help you make wiser choices.
SNACKS YOU CAN EAT GUILT-FREE
Poha is easily digestible and a highly energizing breakfast option. This snack is rich in iron and carbohydrates, is packed with various vitamins and minerals, and has low gluten levels. To pack in more nutrition, you can also throw in some chopped vegetables. Addition of green peas, soya nuggets and peanuts would make it a wellbalanced and a high-protein meal.
Dhokla, being a fermented food, is very nutritious and easy to digest due to the digestive enzymes present. Incorporating fermented food in your diet increases the bio-availability of minerals present in food, helping the body assimilate more nutrition. Apart from helping digestion, the lactic acid bacteria present in fermented food also restores the PH balance.
Moong Dal Chilla is often referred to as a vegetarian omelet. Moong dal is extremely light
“Poha is rich in iron and carbohydrates, is packed with various vitamins and minerals, and has low gluten levels.”
and easy to digest – it is also an excellent source of protein. A 100 gm serving of moong dal can provide you with 24 gm protein. This dish is also extremely versatile, so depending on your preferences, you can spruce it up with tomatoes, chopped onion, some grated paneer/ cheese etc.
Mini Carrot Coriander Idlis are another fermented favorite. I prefer my idlis as bite-sized snack options with the goodness of carrots and coriander along with some coconut chutney.
Apple Slices With Peanut Butter... well, people tell me that eating a fruit does not satiate their hunger. That’s when scooping a slice of fruit with some homemade nut butter can be great. Apples are high in fiber and polyphenol antioxidants that improve gut health and reduce heart disease risk, while peanut butter has been shown to increase HDL cholesterol and reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. That being said, remember portion control is key here, as peanut butter has a fairly high calorie content.
HOW TO PICK HEALTHY OVER UNHEALTHY?
— Choose your snacks wisely.
— Avoid eating fried snacks at any cost.
— Keep a bowl of unsalted nuts next to you, this will make it easy to switch over to healthy eating.
— Have baked food rather than fried snacks.
— Eat 4 meals a day, 2 small meals between your lunch and dinner.
— Keep a strong will and learn to say no to temptation. Easier said than done, but this will immensely benefit you in the long run.
“People tell me that eating a fruit does not satiate their hunger. That’s when scooping a slice of fruit with some homemade nut butter can be great.”