It’s all been a bit quiet on the blogging front at Rachel Clare Nutrition – please accept my sincere apologies. But isn’t it true that if you treat them mean you keep them keen? Hoping you’ve all been waiting passionately for my next post!
Anyhow, so that you and I know where we stand, I’ll be doing one post a month from now on – allows me time to work on other work projects whilst maintaining my writing work of creative and informative genius – always a humble soul.
We’ve just hopped over Easter (scuse the pun) and so I’m sure that many of you have bits of chocolate eggs lying around, or perhaps not, but you did have. So in a timely fashion, this month’s post is all about ‘snacks’. It may seem basic but it’s always good to strip right back and answer questions such as;
– what is a snack?
– why do we snack?
– is snacking a good thing?
– what are good types of snacks to have?
What is a snack?
From the mother of all definitions, the English Oxford Dicitionary:
“a small amount of food eaten between meals” – I’d like to put an emphasis on small and between meals.
Why do we snack?
There is a huge range of reasons as to why we might eat a small amount of food between meals. For instance…
Hunger – we feel hungry and it’s a while until our next meal so we have a small snack to have a boost of energy and to stave off the stomach churns until meal time.
Bored – needs little expansion as for fear of causing boredom.
Emotional – might be feeling upset, frustrated, anxious or even happy so we use food to soothe emotions or give us a comforting hug!
Opportunistic – man goes to petrol station, fills up car, stands in waiting line, picks up chocolate bar at conveniently placed position despite not even thinking about food, eats snack.
Habit – always have a biscuit with coffee in the morning so why would you not this time?
Social occasions – if you’re like me, you love a party. Lots of people together having fun with – if you’re at a good party – booze and a plethora of delicious food to gorge on. Although you’re not hungry, the food looks amazing and eating a slice of cake at the same time as your friends and just talking about how delicious it is, making those typical eyebrow phrases of appreciation towards the cake is just all part of the fun. Can you tell now that I like a party? And cake!
There are many other reasons why you might have a snack… Skipped a meal (going against the definition of between meals though), exercise, tired, hungover…
So now we know what a snack is and why we snack, it’s only right to answer the question…
Is it good to snack?
To put it simply, the concern of snacking is that it can lead to overeating, and particularly of foods that are high in fat and/or sugar which can be detrimental to your health and cause unnecessary weight gain.
The positive to snacking is that it can help contribute to your daily nutrient profile. For instance, if you struggle to get your 5-a-day in your meals then snacking on a piece of fruit or a mini salad can help with this!
It can also be good to snack if you are genuinely hungry!! Your brain is always thirsty for energy and so if it’s been a while since you last ate then you might find your short term memory to slip or find it more difficult to solve a relatively simple problem at work or in your family life.
Now for the crescendo, as in my line of work I’ve realised that people want to know what food they should or shouldn’t eat…
What are the better options to snack on?
A simple 3 point mantra will help you make a healthy choice day in and day out…
WHY? WHAT? WHEN?
Why are you going to have a snack?
Is it because you’re hungry? Great – eat!
Is it because you’re bored? Try something else first
Is it because you’re emotional? Try and wait a bit before having your snack as you may find the emotions simmer without a food fix…
Is it because you’re in an opportunity? Don’t let the food industry draw you in… Resist!
Is it because you’re at an awesome party? Absolutely go for it, I’m a keen believer in food brings people together and should be enjoyed in social occasions. Just don’t let it become the main party piece. Keep it in balance, have a laugh with your friends, catch up with the peeps and also indulge in some nice treats!
What type of snack is better for me?
If you’re hungry, think of what type of hunger you may have and tailor your snack to that.
Stomach hunger –your belly feels a bit empty and it’s growling a bit embarrassingly during a meeting with your boss. A protein/fat based snack will help with this – perhaps wait until after the meeting, or prepare well and have this before!
Example snacks: handful of nuts, small block of cheese, avocado, some chicken pieces, hummus & vegetable sticks.
These give you a bit of nutrition while also helping you to feel full.
Cellular hunger – this is where you feel a bit drained of energy, finding it difficult to concentrate or perhaps a victim of ‘hanger’. At this point, you need a carbohydrate based snack to bring your blood sugar levels back to normal.
Example snacks: fruit is perfect for this! An energy bar, small bowl of wholegrain cereal (yes cereal in moderation is OK it won’t bring unimaginable harm as some like to say).
If you find yourself both stomach and cellular hunger then go wild and mix it up… fruit and nuts! Toast with peanut butter, yoghurt with granola etc.
When will my next meal be?
As emphasised, a snack is a small amount of food between meals. Tailor the size of your snack to the time you will next have a meal. If you’re just starting to cook but are starving and don’t want to rush cooking, have a small number of nuts. If it’s like 3 hours until your next meal then maybe a small bowl of wholegrain cereal is what you need.
Remember: WHY? WHAT? WHEN?
Sometimes, you fancy something a bit more interesting and a convenience snack in the shops is pulling you much harder than that apple. That’s OK – I get that sometimes too! So here is my pick of convenient snacks that are ‘better’ options than chocolate bars or full fat, salty crisps…
- Energy bars. From Eat Natural, nakd, trek – these can be good options to keep you going on the run. Just be mindful of the sugar content as they can be quite high! As a rough figure, not based on any ground-breaking science – anything more than 10-15g of sugar is pretty high.
- Popcorn. Sales of this traditional cinema snack (there’s another reason for why we snack!) have rocketed in recent months. My personal fav is the coconut and vanilla flavour, just so delicious. These are relatively low in calories and sugar and do a good job of filling you up.
- Vegetable crisps. Still processed but slightly better than your average salt and vinegar bag.
- Protein balls, I hadn’t tried these until recently. I would say they’re an acquired taste, but if you are one of the acquired then sure!
- Rice cakes, I have been obsessed with the chocolate and orange covered varieties. Obviously, the plainer the better but sometimes a hint of flavour helps!
So there you go, April’s blog. I hope you have found it interesting, inspiring and life-changing – always aim high, right!
I’m happy to answer any questions via the comments box below so do feel free…
Until May – all the best and happy WHY, WHAT, WHEN? snacking 🙂
Healthy lives are fruitful lives