… snack !
I’ve been asked to write a post about snacking, because what happens when you skip breakfast ahead of a day at work or school, run around like a mad thing all day and eat lunch on the go without really thinking about it ? You get hungry at 3pm. It’s not lunchtime anymore. It is not yet dinnertime. Your mind wanders dangerously close to the biscuit tin, and 9 times out of 10 your hand follows.
This is an example of an eating pattern that I am WHOLLY AND UTTERLY against.
So before I begin my righteous healthy snack post, I will say this, please, just indulge me…
How to snack less in the first place
1. Eat a proper breakfast before you start your day. I’ve always been brought up to understand that breakfast is important, so much so that it slots into my morning routine as easily as cleaning my teeth; the same as most people would never consider leaving the house without doing so, I will NEVER consider doing ANYTHING except shower before I have my breakfast. I am hungry in the morning, and who can blame me, I haven’t eaten for 7 hours ! I don’t understand people who say they can’t stomach food in the morning (although there is rarely a time when I can’t stomach food; if there is, you know the hangover is bad and should probably leave me alone for at least a day). So try and eat something before you start your busy, busy day; get up 15 minutes earlier, that’s all it takes. It won’t take long before your metabolism adapts to the change and your body will begin to reward you by actually wanting breakfast when you wake up ! (Life hacking, I’m a pro.)
Incorporate some protein (eggs, bacon, nuts, yoghurt) as well as some fruit and a little slow-release carbohydrate; this should keep your change in your pocket and out of the vending machine until at least lunch. “Slow-release” carbs (bananas, porridge, Weetabix are good examples) release their energies into your body slowly, so you retain your full feeling for longer. The opposite – too sugary a breakfast – will cause an insulin spike and subsequent blood sugar dip, which causes sugar cravings (vicious cycle, hey ?) and ultimately pre-lunch cake.
2. Savour your lunch. Continue in much the same manner as breakfast – wholewheat carbohydrates, protein; fill up on vegetables and fruit if you’re still hungry. Often I find grabbing lunch in the midst of a hectic schedule can mean you don’t spend enough time making sure your brain has actually registered that you’ve fed yourself, leading to mindless snacking later on in the day because your mind has tricked your stomach into not believing it is full, even if it is. So take your time and choose wisely (not being starving because you skipped breakfast will help you make informed choices, instead of rushing headlong into a giant plate of chips).
3. Eat enough in your meals. I’m guilty of this when I’m trying to lose weight (a few Christmas/Birthday pounds here and there, for example); in that I purposefully cut back my meal portions because I think this will cut back on calories. Obviously it does, but it just leaves me feeling unfulfilled, hungry, and I (or a combination of my ultimately under-fed brain and stomach) end up making up the calories I saved skipping the second slice of toast by gorging later on in the day.
4. Know how to tell the difference between being bored and being hungry. I am SUCH a sucker for eating when I’m bored. I think it’s because a second rarely passes when I’m not thinking about eating, so when my mind wanders from the task at hand, it immediately jumps to its background runner: food. If you feel the urge to snack, have some water or a cup of tea. Failing that, go for a walk. If you still want to eat, chances are you’re probably genuinely hungry and should eat one of the delicious but nutritious snacks outlined below. Plus you’ve had a walk, so it’s fine !
If you get a combination of good carbohydrates (that’s wholewheat starch, fruit or veg) and protein the snack will serve to tide your energy and hunger levels over until the next meal. I tend to follow this daily pattern: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack, where the main meals are not big and the snacks are not small. This keeps your energy levels up throughout the day, as opposed to your blood sugar spiking and dipping (this not only leads to sugar cravings, but can also cause mood swings, and nobody wants that).
Any fruit, dried or fresh. My personal favourites include bananas, apples, plums and cherries. Or pick the hardest fruit to eat that you can find, for example, a pomegranate. Picking the seeds out will ensure you take your time over it and keep you entertained for a while.
Nuts. Our good friend, protein, to the rescue again ! Half a handful will do.
Peanut butter. Put it on a piece of wholewheat toast or dip some apple slices in 1-2 tablespoons.
Seeds. Work in much the same way as nuts.
Natural yoghurt. By which I mean unsweetened, unflavoured, plain yoghurt. It may seem a little sour at first if you’ve never had it before, but it’s absolutely perfect on a sliced banana with a little honey.
(This is a good one for boredom snacking; I find that it helps to make a meal, for want of a better phrase, of your snack. Not literally; I mean choose a snack that takes a little time to prepare. Chop up your fruit and make a fruit salad, for example. Do the baked apple, or the frozen banana thing. Taking time over any food allows your brain to feel satisfied, as well as your stomach.)
Invest in a weekly or bi-monthly Graze box. And use this code – 7N1PQH2 – on sign up for your first box free and your second half price ! (Graze should totally pay me for this, but sadly they don’t… but I get £1 off one of my boxes if you do this, so do it.) Their website speaks for itself…
Bake the apple oat bread-cake. But don’t eat it all at once.
Olives. For monounsaturated (healthy) fat (like the stuff in avocados !). Aim for about 10.
Hummus. Dip some carrot sticks, cucumber, pepper or a toasted wholemeal pitta in 1-2 tablespoons of the stuff. Beautiful.
Low-fat cream cheese. Again, dip vegetables or bread sticks, or spread on 2-3 oatcakes/ricecakes.
2 squares of dark chocolate. 70% cocoa and above. Satisfies your chocolate craving, but because it’s stronger than milk, you shouldn’t really feel like gorging on it.
A hard-boiled egg. Crack some black pepper on that bad boy.
Edamame beans. If you can get them in their pods, sprinkle a bit of sea salt over before literally popping them out into your mouth. They’re so fun and satisfying !
Glass of milk. Soy or semi-skimmed.
Wasabi peas. Low calorie but high flavour, so you won’t need to eat loads anyway. Great instead of crisps due to their salty-spiciness and crunchy texture.
Hope this helps. I’m off to bake an apple in the microwave…
Next time we speak I will have baked MUFFINS !
(This is for Lizi x)