Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Sensible Snacking Secrets

Snacks can be nutritious and round out our diets by providing us with an extra opportunity to achieve our recommended intakes. For many individuals snacking is a great way to pack in more vegetables. There is really no hard and fast rule for snacking. Snacking can help perpetuate weight loss or hinder your efforts, depending on the approach you take. Whether you are always on the go, work from home, or are a frequent flyer, there are a few main principles everyone should apply to make the most out of their snacking. 

Should I be Snacking?

  • Yes, if you are very active and find it challenging to meet your nutritional needs at mealtimes alone
  • Yes, if you find yourself to be hungry in-between meals or over eating at meal times 
  • Yes, if you are going more than 4 hours without eating 
  • Yes, if you are trying to control your food portions at meal times 
  • No, if you are bored or if it is out of habit 
  • No, if you are watching TV or on the computer (this can lead to mindless eating and overconsumption of food)

If you do wish to supplement your meals with snacks, there are a few key tips to try to keep in mind:

  1. Pre Portion Snacks: Snacks are not meant to be an extra meal, but rather a supplement to our diet.  Snacks should fall in between 100 - 300 calories depending on your individual nutritional needs. Try to avoid snacking from bags or mindlessly from packages of food, as it can result in eating much more than intended. Regardless of the snack you are choosing, pre portioning your snack ahead of time is key. Whether it is counting out the recommended serving of crackers, cutting off a slice of cheese, or washing a handful of fruit or vegetables, it is a great method to ensure your portion sizes stay on track and that your snacks are well balanced and nutritious.  
  2. Food Safety: For most of us, we reach for snacks when we are on the go and away from home for an extended period of time. For this reason, it is important to pay attention to food safety if you are choosing perishable snacks. Pack perishable foods in a cooler bag with ice packs or refrigerate immediately once arriving to work. Foods like yogurt, cheese, meat, leftovers, etc., are not safe to consume if have been away from refrigeration for greater than 2 hours. 
  3. Snack if you're hungry: Remember to rate your hunger before you turn to a snack. Eating out of boredom, stress, or habit can lead to weight gain. If you aren't hungry, save your snack for later on or the next day. 
  4. Balance: In order to get the most nutritional bang for your buck when snacking, aim to choose a snack that includes 2 out of the 4 food groups. For example: pair a grain (crackers, pita bread) with a meat/alternative (hummus, peanut butter), or fruit with a milk/alternative (yogurt, soy milk).

Here are a few snack ideas you can add to your rotation!

Classic Go-To's 

- Medium sized fruit + low fat plain yogurt

- 1/2 cup veggies + 2 Tbsp hummus

- 1/4 cup homemade trail mix (unsweetened dried fruit + unsalted nuts and seeds)

- Hard boiled egg and 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes

- 1/4 cup low fat, low sodium cottage cheese + 1/2 cup celery sticks

- 30g (1 oz) cheese + ~7 whole grain crackers

New Favourites

- 1/2 cup steamed edamame beans + 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

- 2 cups plain air popped popcorn +1 tsp turmeric + 2 Tbsp shredded cheese

- 1/2 cup roasted chickpeas + 1/2 cup roasted cauliflower

- 1/2 an avocado + drizzle of balsamic vinegar

- 1 unsweetened apple sauce + 1 Tbsp chia seeds

- 2 slices of zucchini + 2 slices of tomato: topped with 1 Tbsp goat cheese

- 3 medjool dates stuffed with: 3 almonds + 1 Tbsp low fat cream cheese

- 1/2 cup cubed melon + 30g (1 oz) feta

What is your favourite go-to snack?

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