There’s nothing wrong with eating something that we know isn’t the best for our bodies on occasion, because all too often it’s so good for our minds! Hence, the term “comfort food”.
However, if you’re struggling to come up with some alternatives to your favourite sweet and savoury snacks, I’ve got your go-to list to take your snack game to the next level!
Did you know that potato products are actually the food most associated with obesity? The more processing a potato undergoes, the less nutritious it becomes. So, bagged potato chips being the most processed are high in fat and also loaded with salt. Excessive salt over time can increase your blood pressure which in turn increases your risk of heart and kidney issues down the line.
Swap your favourite salty savoury treat for some popcorn (made in some vegetable or olive oil) with just a pinch of salt and rosemary for the perfect afternoon snack! Packaged ones, look for three ingredients (corn kernels, vegetable or sunflower oil, sea salt). You could also try roasted chickpeas with your favourite spices – they provide a lot more protein, fibre and counts as a vegetable compared to potato chips. Plus, you can roast them up at the beginning of the week and keep them in an air-tight container for snacking or sprinkled on salads too. I promise, you won’t even miss potato chips with these snack ideas.
When 3:30-itis strikes, it’s hard to resist some chocolate! The afternoon slump is common and often where goals for the day may go out the window. In my opinion, there’s no replacement for some good quality dark chocolate. However, if you’re looking to kerb the cravings without the extra fat and sugar you can try a skim hot chocolate and perhaps a few nuts such as almonds or cashews for something crunchy too! Keep the nuts in your drawer and a tin of hot chocolate powder close by in the office for a quick fix. The protein from the milk well help keep you full until dinner and leave you feeling focused through the afternoon.
Muesli bars are a snack food that has been marketed as a “health item” filled with oats, fruit, nuts or seeds and often drizzled with chocolate or yoghurt. However, in a very small bar the calories can creep up easily with lots of honey or sugary syrups to keep the bar together plus dried fruit which also send the sugar content sky high. On occasion, a lower sugar muesli bar is fine – especially before a workout, however if you’re reaching for these often try out some untoasted muesli with low-fat Greek yoghurt and some fresh fruit or a small handful of unsalted nuts or seeds. The protein from both of these will keep your appetite at bay without all that extra sticky chewy sugary stuff. BONUS: these are both great pre-workout snacks as well.
Crackers & Dip
Some dip and crackers is a platter staple at any function. However, they’re so easily over-consumed as you chat, sip on some wine and next thing you know the platter is empty! Giving the classic a bit of a makeover and thinking about how much of them you’re eating can help to keep things in check. Changing from a salty and high-fat biscuit (such as Jatz or Ritz) to something on the lighter side such as wafer or a wholegrain cracker (such as Vita-Weats) will help to slow you down, and using a yoghurt based dip or a homemade guacamole will also help keep you full. The protein from the yoghurt and the fibre from the biscuits make it a winning nutritional combo! You can also replace the crackers with some veggie sticks to count towards your 5 a day.
Grabbing a muffin at the cafe can seem like a simple breakfast or snack option with your morning coffee. However, muffins pack more of a punch than you think with fat, sugar and little fibre it can leave you wanting more before lunch time. Muffins from cafes tend to be much larger in size compared to homemade ones which also contribute to their higher calorie value. A better option is to, of course, make your own at home with some wholemeal flour and using fruit to sweeten mostly with smaller amounts of sugar. These mini-versions are also great for school lunchboxes! Alternatively, opting for a couple of pieces of wholegrain toast with some margarine or oil-based spread or even some fruit toast are better options over the muffin.