‘Healthy Snacking’ by Dr Claire Madigan & Jessica Honeywood published in upcoming Great Health Guide (Sep 2016). Do you often experience the dreaded 3pm slump? That noticeable drop in attention and energy levels and manage this drop, by (shamefully) reaching for a sugary snack or popping out for a caffeine hit? Snacking doesn’t necessarily have to be unhealthy. Read this article for some healthy snack ideas.
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NUTRITION: Healthy Snacking
written by Dr Claire Madigan & Jessica Honeywood
Do you often experience the dreaded 3pm slump? That noticeable drop in attention and energy levels and manage this drop, by (shamefully) reaching for a sugary snack or popping out for a caffeine hit?
Well, you’re not alone.
A recent study into Australian eating habits found one in three of us snack between meals. Shockingly, this mindless snacking now accounts for a third of our total energy intake!
In 2015, over half of Australian women were found to be overweight or obese, with approximately one in six Australian adults over 25 to be suffering with pre-diabetes, a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Of those diagnosed with pre-diabetes, 10% each year will progress to developing type 2 diabetes.
We live in an environment with constant encouragement to eat and this can lead us to gain weight. On average, people snack 14 times per week; with the snacks that are being consumed tending to be readily available, processed, high-energy foods. If people simply reduced their snacking by half, they could save themselves 2344 calories (9800 kilojoules) per week – this equates to a 2.1kg weight loss over eight weeks!
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So to lose weight or maintain a healthy diet, is cutting out all snacks the way to go?
‘Not all snacking is unhealthy. It can actually help us control our weight. High energy and high fat snacks should be limited and healthy, more filling snacks should take their place. The simple act of planning your day before you leave the house can make a big difference to the number of snacks you consume over the day. The real challenge people face is understanding the difference between being hungry and thirsty, or knowing when they need a quick break.’
Tips to help beat the 3pm slumps and limit snacking:
Start the day with a filling and nutritious breakfast – ‘Oats are a great example of a healthy, low GI breakfast which keeps you feeling full and powered throughout the morning.’
Be aware of your snacking habits – ‘Make a conscious decision to have healthy snacks.’
Plan your snacks – ‘Just like planning dinner, plan snacks in advance to help save time and avoid easy-access sugary snacks.’
Choose fruit and low-fat dairy snacks – ‘Fruit and low-fat dairy foods are often missing in our daily diet. Fruit contributes to your daily intake of stomach-filling fibre and dairy is a great source of calcium and protein.’
Don’t shop hungry – ‘Isn’t it funny how product packaging seems to influence our shopping decisions more when we shop hungry? Avoid the trap and eat before you go food shopping, even if it’s just an apple.’
Keep healthy shelf-stable snacks on hand – ‘Having healthy snacks, such as unsalted nuts available at home and work can help you manage your energy intake.’
Buy in bulk and in season to save money – ‘The cost of pre-packaged snacks can be very expensive. Buy fruits and vegetables in season and bulk-buy nuts that you can then portion into snack-able portions.’
Stay hydrated – ‘Visible cues such as a drink bottle on your desk can remind you to drink water.’
Take a break – ‘Sometimes a short walk with exposure to natural light and fresh air are all you need and can help you avoid reaching for a snack.’
But what does a healthy snack look like?
Accredited Practising Dietitian Jessica Honeywood recommends choosing high fibre snacks with at least 3g dietary fibre per serve, since ‘fibre helps slow down the digestion of food and keeps you feeling fuller for longer’. Also look for snacks that contain between 100kCal (420kJ) and 150kCal (600kJ) per serve, ‘this calorie or kilojoule information is available from the Nutrition Information Panel found on labels of packaged foods.’
Here are some of Jessica’s examples of healthy snacks, aim for two per day:
1 medium size piece of fruit
20g unsalted nuts
4 Vita-Weats with 1½ tablespoons low fat ricotta and sliced tomato
1 small 130g tin of reduced salt baked beans
Raw veggie sticks with 2 tablespoons low fat hommus
So beat that 3pm slump and maintain a constant energy level by eating these healthy snacks above and see the difference this will make in your day.
Author of this article:
Dr Claire Madigan PhD, is a Clinical Trials Manager and Research Fellow. She oversees clinical trials at Boden Institute that investigates diabetes prevention, cholesterol reduction, probiotics, exercise and behavioural change. Jessica Honeywood APD & AN, is a Research Study Coordinator and Dietitian providing dietitian consultations as part of the weight loss and cholesterol reduction trials at Boden Institute. She also runs a private dietician consultancy. Both Claire & Jessica are based at the University of Sydney’s Boden Institute.
by Kim McCosker
Paperback. Published 2016.