Snacking is a topic I often get asked about because it seems there’s so much different information out there. So to help you out, I’ve put together a guide to balanced snacking to answer all your snacking questions. For me, balanced snacking is all about choosing snacks that are both enjoyable and sustaining to nourish me between meals. Here’s my guide to balanced snacking:
Should you snack?
If you’re hungry, yes! There’s lots of theories about how you should eat, but the truth is there is no one right way to eat. If you are hungry in between meals, then it’s completely fine to snack! Our body is great at telling us what we need – we just need to tune in and listen.
Hunger is a driver to eat so we can fuel our bodies – and our bodies don’t like to go hungry! Ignoring hunger eventually causes your hunger hormones rise to the point where you get ravenous – a type of primal hunger that you just can’t ignore. At that stage it’s far more common to eat past the point of comfort and feel uncomfortable afterwards. I think we’ve all had an occasion where you’ve been so hungry you just want to eat everything in the cupboard! So listen to your body and don’t be afraid to have a snack. You’ll feel better eating when you’re at a medium level of hunger rather than ravenously over-hungry.
For me, there are two requirements when it comes to choosing snacks. It should be enjoyable and provide me with energy and nourishment to keep me going till my next meal. The best way to choose your snacks is to go with what will satisfy you at that time.
There’s a bit of a myth that if it comes in a packet then you shouldn’t eat it, but sometimes it’s really convenient to have options like this available, especially if you need to quickly grab something on the run and there are definitely some great options available.
One of these options for me are the Nice and Natural Protein Nut Bars. The new flavours are totally delicious too – Arabica Coffee & Dark Chocolate and Coconut & Dark Chocolate with Freeze Dried Raspberries. So good! These bars are a source of protein contain 25% protein per bar and a source fibre which can help with satiety, plus if you’re looking for a lower sugar option they have approximately up to 5g a bar.
Other options I have are mixed nuts, yoghurt, fruit, bliss balls and if I’m at home good old peanut butter on toast. Other ideas include wholegrain crackers with hummus or pesto and, a smoothie if you feel like something more substantial.
All of these options both satisfy my taste buds, give me energy and provide nourishment.
The other important thing to know is that ALL snacking should be guilt free! Guilt has no place in a balanced diet, so if you really feel like something that might not be nutrient dense- have it and enjoy it guilt free. Feeling guilty doesn’t help us be healthier, in fact it do just the opposite. Food is for pleasure too!
The other part of balanced snacking (and eating in general) is how you eat. If you feel like your snacking is out of habit; or you find yourself eating without even really paying attention, then this is for you!
Hungry or habit?
Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between the feeling of actual hunger and the feeling of just wanting to eat because your bored or tired etc.
So here’s the easy thing to do to know for sure. Check in with your stomach and ask yourself ‘Am I hungry?’! It sounds obvious but it actually helps. If your stomach feels hungry, then you are hungry. This small step helps create awareness you give yourself time to actually assess if you’re actually hungry or if you’re bored, tired etc. Then you can choose if you want to eat, or if something else like a quick walk or a drink of water will better suit you.
It’s not always possible, but try and eat your snacks mindfully. I need to take my own advice here because sometimes if I have a bag of nuts in my drawer I’ll just keep eating them without paying much attention to what I’m doing then end up feeling just a bit too full. Mindful eating is about paying attention without judgement. As well as helping you tune into your body and it’s hunger and fullness levels to know if you’re hungry and when you’ve had enough, it helps make snacking more enjoyable. So take five minutes out, sit down undistracted and enjoy your snack.
I think we’ve all had those times where we’ve been super busy or not had food with us and we end up hangry. That’s where a bit of preparation can help. Keep some snacks in your handbag or office draw so you can eat when you get hungry. I like to keep nuts, fruit and some of the Nice & Natural Protein Nut Bars handy for those occasions so I’ve got a range of things to choose from when hunger strikes.
If there’s any other questions you’d like answered about snacking, then feel free to comment below!
WIN: I’m giving away a box of each of the Arabica Coffee & Dark Chocolate and Coconut & Dark Chocolate with Freeze Dried Raspberries Nice & Natural Protein Nut Bars. To be in the draw just comment below with what flavour you’d try first! Winner will be drawn on the 20th March and notified via email as well as their name being published on this post.
This post was sponsored by Nice & Natural