Is Snacking Bad For You?

Kathleen Alleaume, Nutritionist & founder of The Right Balance gives us the downlow once and for all about whether it’s okay to snack and what you should reach for first when you do.

Is snacking bad for you?

No, not all all! But it depends on what constitutes a snack. For some, a “mini–meal” can keep you on track until lunch to avoid temptation to overeat or inhale your next meal. But, for some, snacking can be an opportunity to eat more food. So, it’s very important to keep in mind that portions matter — a lot. Especially, if you’re concerned about weight management. Research has shown that whilst snacks may delay the next meal, they do not reduce the overall energy intake of that next meal. Therefore, snackers are prone to consume greater total energy than non-snackers. Also, many snack foods and beverages are highly energy dense. Point: If you do snack, aim for snacks which contain less than 400 kilojoules (in an ideal world).

How many snacks should women have a day?

Aim to have no more than 2 snacks per day. If breakfast is high in fibre and protein, usually you can by-pass the mid morning munchies.

What are some healthy snack choices?

The key is to get the right mix of nutrients in each snack. Eating a snack high in carbs alone (e.g. rice crackers, crisps) is not going to do much for you. Your blood sugar levels will soar, then to only plummet back down again. Aim to mix a protein–rich food with a fiber–rich food. See examples below:

• Fresh fruit (with skin for added fibre)
• Plain nuts (small handful)
• Low-fat natural yoghurt (150 g)
• Low-fat fruit smoothie (small serving)
• Dried fruit & nut (mini box)
• Small bag of roasted chickpea nuts
• 1 slice of raisin toast (Burgen) –lighltly spread margarine

• Plain popcorn (1 cup)
• 2 whole grain crackers with hummus or cottage cheese or salmon or tuna (spring water)
• vegetable sticks and low-fat dip
• small uncoated muesli bars (Carman’s bite sized bars or B-Natural trail bars)
• hot soups with a few noodles or rice
• Up & Go milk beverage

What are some healthy snacks for work?

At work you have the benefit of cold storage. So snacks like yoghurt, cheese and dips and veggie sticks are always handy to have close by (to avoid trips to the vending machine). Examples include:

• Wholegrain crackers hummus or low-fat cheese or avocado
• Vegetable stick and hummus
• Vegetable soups

What are the worst snacks you can eat?
• Muffins
• Banana bread
• Chocolates
• Chocolate/yoghurt coated museli bars
• Breakfast bars
• Processed/high in fat, sugar and energy.

What are your thoughts on popcorn? Dried fruit? Juice?

These are healthy options because they contain beneficial nutrients and fibre, but again watch the amount because they are calorie dense; but certainly a better choice compared to worst snacks listed above.

By Kathleen Alleaume, Nutritionist & founder of The Right Balance

For more great healthy eating tips, check outEat Yourself Sexy on LifeStyle YOU.

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