We all snack between meals whether we are hungry, bored or just for habit, but are we snacking correctly?
There is nothing wrong with a bite between meals, in fact snacking may be the missing ingredient that will help you reach your weight loss goals! How I hear you ask?
Well snacking doesn't serve to replace a meal but by eating little and often and the right things this will satisfy you and keep you feeling fuller for longer. By eating at regular intervals your blood sugar levels (and therefore your energy levels) remain stable leaving you feeling energized and ready for the day ahead. Eating every few hours can also help add extra nutrition that might be missing from other meals.
When snacking you should avoid processed items such as biscuits and crisps etc. and shouldn't be consuming enough calories to constitute a meal. Instead you should be steering to foods that will satisfy you and keep you fuller for longer.
Processed foods are those that have been altered from their natural state. This is done to make them cheaper and more convenient, look and taste better and to extend their shelf life. Usually these foods are prepared in factories and are stripped of their natural goodness and pumped full of additives and preservatives.The worst offenders are things such as frozen food and ready meals, tinned and canned foods, crisps, cakes and biscuits, cereals, white bread and rice and processed meat. All these foods are not only high in fat and sodium but contain a high amount of sugar too. People don’t often believe this but it’s not fat that makes you fat, its sugar! Sugar has an effect on the brain, a bit like morphine. It gives us an instant feeling of pleasure and satisfaction but at the same time is increasing our weight, expanding our liver, ageing us inside and out and making us unwell, whilst draging vital nutrients out of our bodies.
Good fats are what we should be eating in order to drop fat! Many of us have a fat phobia and try and cut this out of our daily diet in order to lose weight fast, but this isn't the case. When I say fat though I mean good fats (mono-unsaturated). These fats are found in foods such as nuts and seeds, meat, fish, seafood, avocado and olive oil. These fats prevent you from overeating, by telling your brain when to stop, are good for the hair, skin and nails and cushion the joints. They also slow the rate at which sugar hits the blood stream, which allows your blood sugar levels to remain steady leaving you feeling fuller for longer and feeling more energized. If you were to eat sugar without good fats then a spike in the blood sugar would occur, causing the pancreas to produce to much insulin which causes us to crash and feel exhausted in a matter of hours. This is why we should never eat a fat free snack, so even if you are just having an apple make sure you have a handful of seeds or nuts with it.
Steer clear of foods that state they are low fat too. These labels make people think they can eat more because its better for you, when in actual fact the fat has just been replaced with sugar.
Munching between meals can actually reduce your overall caloric intake by curbing overeating at your next meal. By controlling later binging, snacking can help you stay on track. You can actually use this to your advantage, for example if you know you are going out for a meal with friends, by eating a healthy snack before you head out may stop you ordering a starter or a side dish.
We must remember though, Snacking isn't Grazing…
Mindless eating is often the downfall of many snackers. You may start with only a handful of something, only to finish the entire packet without even thinking about it.
Some tips to avoid grazing:
Fill a small plate with your snack, and leave the kitchen. When your plate is empty, snack time is over.
Never bring the entire container with you in front of the television or computer. Enjoy your snack without distraction and you won’t be tempted to reach for more.
Limit yourself to a single serving.
Plan out your snacks just like you would a meal. Is one cookie worth the calorie cost, when you could eat a plate of fresh fruit instead?
Check out a couple of great snack ideas below.
FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
Fruit and veg are nature’s wonderful medicines packed with vitamins and minerals that help the body stay fit and healthy! Fruit and veg will boost you instantly and is something which can quench your thirst and satisfy your hunger at the same time. They are also good on the go if there isn't time for a meal.
NUTS AND SEEDS
Nuts are rich in energy, nutrients and protein and packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts and seeds can be eaten as they are and are handy on the go. They can be consumed with almost anything and are particularly good with salads and mixed with yoghurt. Just munch a handful of nuts a day and you will be doing more than good to keep yourself healthy and stay fit.
Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. They also act as a "nutrient booster" by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein, in foods that are eaten with the fruit. They also protect against liver damage and their thick skin protects them from pesticides.
Remember don’t sabotage your diet with unhealthy nibbles throughout the day; stick to nourishing foods whenever possible and always add good fats in order to slow down the sugar release, to feel fuller for longer and avoid overeating. If you know you have a weakness for junk food, do yourself a favour and don’t purchase these items when shopping, then you won’t have to fight the temptation when hunger pangs hit.
Any questions you know where I am.