Snacking for most of us is part of our eating strategy. Snacking can give you a boost of energy mid morning or mid afternoon, especially when at work or looking after the children, that you actually need. The main problem for most people is that they snack on the wrong types of food like chocolate or crisps or that they snack far too often in the day: in the latter scenario it is not usually about an energy boost, but more usually about emotional eating. Occasionally, choosing some “unhealthy” snacks as a treat, perhaps for example when you go to the cinema, or on a Saturday evening having friends round for a glass or two of wine is fine, but what if you are choosing to snack on unhealthy foods the other six days of the week?
Snacking at work can be a big problem for many women, especially if they are bored, unmotivated or lonely (this can especially apply to mumpreneurs and small business women!) Running to the vending machine, or dipping into a packet of biscuits in the kitchen can offer a quick fix solution so it seems on the surface, but will inevitably lead to weight problems and long term health problems if this is a regular habit.
So how can you manage the snack attacks with some healthy choices?
Replace pastries, crisps and chocolate bars with crudities ie carrot sticks, pepper sticks, celery or cucumber sticks, which can be served with salsa, vegetable-based or a low calorie dip. Why not try fresh in-season fruit, popcorn, yoghurt and fruit juices for some variety and maybe for sweetness.
By all means indulge in a treat after your lunch, especially in that mid afternoon, 3 O’clock dip in energy, but think about the nutritional content of your choice before stuffing it down in one gulp. Be mindful of what you are actually putting in your mouth: it is so easy to munch your way through half a packet of biscuits on automatic pilot, without thinking about what you are doing or even really tasting what you are eating.
Make a conscious effort to swap some sugary high calorie snacks for lower calorie healthier ones that will still be sweet and tasty, and will fill you up more: For example a Danish pastry contains a whooping 349 calories and 17g of fat compared to a delicious sweet and quite filling desert like a rice pudding yoghurt, which has 108 calories and 1.5g fat. Or if you want to be really good have some fresh fruit – a banana will provide you with only 76 calories and less than 1g of fat!
Another option is to have a drink instead of something to eat when you have a snack attack. Try a nice big glass of water with a lemons slice, or a diet drink. If you are someone who has created the habit of having biscuits with a hot drink, avoid the hot drink and choose a cold drink to interrupt your pattern. It’s unlikely that you would want to be dunking chocolate chip cookies into a diet coke for example. If you fancy chocolate then perhaps choose a low calorie chocolate drink instead: full of chocolate flavour and a lot less calories.
If the snacks you are looking for don’t have the traffic light label, check out the nutritional information to help you choose a healthier option. Remember, a lower healthier choice, will have 3g or less per 100g of fat and 1.5g or less per 100g of saturated fat.