Asnack or two can help us get through the day, but it’s easy to make unhealthy choices.
Snack sensibly, though, and your health and waistline could benefit.
Snacks are seen as ‘bad’ when people are trying to lose weight, but ditching them altogether could be counterproductive.
‘Snacks are certainly not the enemy,’ says British Dietetic Association spokesperson Sioned Quirke, whose website (quirkynutrition.co.uk) is full of useful information on healthy eating.
‘Of course, if we snack on unhealthy foods and drinks regularly, such as chocolate, sweets, biscuits, crisps and fizzy pop, these will significantly affect our weight.
‘That doesn’t mean we can never have these foods, we just need to look at the frequency.’
Ben Pratt, from leading health and fitness training provider Premier Training International (premierglobal.co.uk), agrees that letting yourself get too hungry can be detrimental.
‘The hungrier you become the less wise your food choices are likely to be,’ he adds.
Being snack savvy could be beneficial to your waistline – and your health!
If snacking’s a problem for you, start by looking at your main meals. If you’re completely ravenous just an hour or two after a meal, then chances are that meal wasn’t adequate.
‘If we have a healthy, low GI (Glycemic Index) meal, this should sustain us until our next meal, but if we have a long gap between some meals, then it’s okay to have a snack to sustain us if we make a healthy choice,’ says Quirke.
Instead of vowing that you’re only going to eat salad, or cutting out carbs altogether, look for a good balance of food groups and micronutrients.
Quirke’s ‘Quirky Portion Plates’ – aimed at helping people trying to lose weight – feature a handy portion guide design, with half the plate reserved for vegetables and/or salad, a quarter for carbohydrates (potato, brown rice or pasta) and a quarter for protein (meat, fish, pulses, shellfish, egg).
Though a mid-morning and afternoon snack is advisable, Quirke cautions against snacking late at night if you’re slimming.
‘Your evening meal should satisfy you,’ she says, ‘and have plenty of fluids – lots of people forget to drink in the evening.’