There's nothing wrong with having a snack either mid-morning or mid-afternoon. Often, it can help you out of a slump and, if you snack mindfully (as we suggest in one our tips), it also gives you a reason to focus on something else for a few minutes.
But there is always a but ... have you upgraded your snacks in the interest of healthier eating?
It’s a great idea to choose snacks wisely. But many foods that seem to be a great nutrition value aren’t. For example, bran muffins and cereal bars can be packed with unhealthy fats and added sugar, and fat-free foods often contain lots of added salt and sugar.
So here are seven tips for smarter snacking suitable for you or your children.
1. Go for grain
Whole-grain snacks — such as whole-grain low-salt pretzels or tortilla chips and high-fibre, whole-grain cereals — can give you some energy with staying power.
2. Bring back breakfast
Many breakfast foods can be repurposed as a nutritious snack later in the day. How about a slice of whole-grain toast topped with low-sugar jam or ricotta cheese? Low-sugar granola also makes a quick snack.
3. Try a 'hi-low' combination
Combine a small amount of something with healthy fat, like peanut butter, with a larger amount of something very light, like apple slices or celery sticks.
4. Go nuts
Unsalted nuts and seeds make great snacks. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, cashews, hazelnuts and other nuts and seeds contain many beneficial nutrients and are more likely to leave you feeling full (unlike chips or pretzels). Nuts have lots of calories, though, so keep portion sizes small. The ideal size is around 20g.
5. The combo snack
Try to eat more than one macro-nutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrate) at each snacking session. For example, have a few nuts (protein and fat) and some grapes (carbohydrates). Try some whole-grain crackers (carbohydrates) with some low-fat cheese (protein and fat). These balanced snacks tend to keep you feeling satisfied.
6. Snack mindfully
Don’t eat your snack while doing something else like surfing the Web, watching TV, or working at your desk. Instead, stop what you’re doing for a few minutes and eat your snack like you would a small meal.
7. You can take it with you
Think ahead and carry a small bag of healthful snacks in your pocket or purse so you won’t turn in desperation to the cookies at the coffee counter or the candy bars in the office vending machine.