I definitely agree with snacking!
So many of my clients say to me that they enjoy stopping for a snack during their day, or that on the way to the gym they need to eat something so they don’t pass out, and I agree that this is a great time to snack. The old fashioned mentality where snacks were frowned upon has changed dramatically now that we understand the difference between how a processed box of chemicals wrecks havoc on our health, versus a quality whole food and nutrient dense snack that will help our health goals.
Like everything in nutrition, whether or not you should be snacking comes down to your own goals, your genetics, your situation and of course your habits. Are you snacking because you need fuel, or are you snacking because you’re bored?
Personally, I find snacking on quality whole foods in my busy day means I can function better and I’m not left craving anything mid-afternoon. For you, if it means you can head to the gym, if you feel more in control over emotional instability or boredom eating when you snack on something nutritious, if you work shifts or have higher energy needs than most (children, pregnant women, athletes, gym instructors and physical job workers all fit into this category) then snacking is most likely going to be a beneficial way to keep your energy levels where they need to be.
What are some snacking guidelines?
Firstly, ensure you’re drinking enough water and some herbal teas throughout your day to make sure you’re hydrated. Sometimes people are simply thirsty and mistake this for hunger. Secondly, don’t make snacking your habit to remove yourself from a stressful office, meeting or work. Take a 5 minute walk or simply make a herbal tea instead so you don’t over eat just to get a break. Finally, make sure you’re prepared. Healthy and whole food ingredients for snacks are encouraged, but not processed and nasty convenience foods. Your snacks are there to fuel and nourish your body, offering another boost in vitamins and minerals, so make sure that’s what they’re made of. If you’re unsure, it’s probably not a good choice.
In no particular order, I have written out some of my top snacks. There are both options you make yourself, and of course for ease and convenience some options you can purchase when you need to, that I actually approve of.
Veggie sticks and home made pesto and hummus
I love blending chick peas with fresh basil, walnuts, some baby greens, and plenty of olive and hemp oils for dipping with raw carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery and capsicum. You can make a large batch with ease on a Sunday night and enjoy all week.
Power balls and bars
I make my own all the time. Balls for when I can bothered, and simply pressing the same mixture into a tin and slicing into bars for the days I can’t be bothered rolling them. For emergency options I love Tom and Luke, Tasti, and Pure Delish paleo nut bars. If you make them yourself, have a couple with a piece of fruit or herbal tea. If you buy them, and you’ll do so only occasionally, then one pack every now and again is the key. Not every day.
So easy and such a forgotten snack. Boil a whole pot up on a Sunday night and leave in the fridge to simply eat on their own during your week with some nuts or a piece of fruit, or slice in half and make devilled eggs with home made mayo or basil pesto and egg yolk mixed.
Coconut chips or nuts and fresh fruit
I love combining fibrous fresh fruit like pears and apples with a handful of organic coconut chips or with simple raw nuts. The coconut chips are crispy and a good source of fat to keep you feeling fuller for longer, and the nuts are packed full of protein and fat for that same satiety.
Soups and hot pot meals
Left over soup is great for a snack, and a hot mug in the afternoon really does provide a wonderfully nutrient dense option. If you’re stuck at work with nothing healthy to eat then Tasty Pot do great options that as a snack option will create two serves. Leave in the office fridge with your name on it and eat alone, or with boiled eggs and toasted kumara like in the main image of this article. These are also great for days where you forget your lunch, or for when you come home late from work. I reheat mine in a pot and always add some fresh herbs.
Seaweed snacks and nuts
I love the Ceres Organics seaweed snacks with some mixed nuts. Seaweed is a rich source of iodine and since our soils are deficient in NZ, and we don’t get enough, we risk thyroid issues because of it. Make sure you add 2-3 brazil nuts for selenium which is crucial for iodine to function correctly, and again because our soils are deficient in NZ therefore we get none elsewhere.
Greek or coconut yoghurt with nuts and berries
A few tablespoons of unsweetened greek or coconut yoghurt with a small handful of nuts and some fresh or frozen blueberries is the best. Protein and fat will keep your energy levels stable and antioxidant rich berries are always a good idea in the afternoon.
Fruit and vegetables with nut butter
How many people are obsessed with carrot and celery sticks and almond or peanut butter? For great reason too. Not only is this a snack rich in nutrients, but the fat in the nut butter will help absorb and convert beta-carotene into vitamin A in your body. Great for reproductive and eye health. You can also have apple or pear slices with nut butter.
Organic liver pate, avocado and paleo bread
Making your own nut bread (see my recipe here) and having slices stored in the freezer to take to work makes a perfect snack option. Smeared with avocado and organic liver pate means not only a rich source of micronutrients from the pate, but healthy fats and fibre from the avocado. These toppings on one or two pieces of this bread will help curb cravings all afternoon.
Small smoothies with added protein
A small smoothie with half a banana, berries, some avocado, milk of your choice and either a scoop of protein powder or some nuts may be enough to keep you from reaching for the chocolate biscuits. Many work places now have blenders or bullets around in the kitchen, or make something you can take yourself. You can get fancy and add some super food powders like cacao, maca or spirulina or keep it simple. Up to you. Especially great pre or post training.