Snacking- friend or foe? I often ask an audience when I present. The response- mixed as always! Some people find that snacking keeps them going and stops them from hitting the wall and over eating at their next meal, whilst others find that when they snack, they go well over their energy requirements (calories / kilojoules) for the day very fast. So what is the answer? Is snacking a friend or a foe?

The way I like to explain snacking is that if used in your favour, then it is a friend, however if you consume what I call ’empty’ kilojoules, ones that do not fill you up but simply keep you going momentarily, then they are closer to a foe (as you are likely to still eat the same size meal at your next sitting and could potentially go well above your energy intake for the day which can lead to weight gain over time).

So how do we choose snacks that will fill us up enough that we can reduce the portion of our next meal? Simple- follow the same principles I have been speaking about in previous blog posts- higher protein, higher fibre, and low GI foods will together hold off the hunger pangs, and actually contribute to satiety for the day. This will mean that by snacking on the right foods, you can decrease your main meal portion sizes, and slowly lose weight without being hungry!

So what snacks come under this banner?

Put simply- reduced fat dairy, whole grains, fruit, vegetables, healthy fats and lean protein sources (sounds like I just listed all the food groups!)- I’ll nut it out a little for you (and I am guessing this is going to be the longest post to date); Starting with dairy foods:

Reduced fat yoghurt that have no added sugar e.g. Yoplait Forme, Nestle Diet, Jalna non fat, Vaalia (no added sugar) or Tamar Valley 98% fat free (no added sugar) with a small piece of fruit or a small handful of unsalted nuts

You may like to add in a couple of teaspoons of chia seed bran, our Goodness Superfoods Fibre Boost Sprinkles (get an extra resistant starch hit for the day!) or  psylium husk to the above mentioned yoghurts to bump up the fibre content. Yoplait Satisfy and Nestle Diet (AM /PM) range have fibre added into them already (about 4g) so you may like to try these too.

Why not make a smoothie if you have a blender available? Put a handful of frozen berries + 1/2 cup skim milk + 100g of the above yoghurts (I often freeze them to save me having to add ice in, this makes the drink thicker). You could also add in some of the Heart 1st cereal for a slightly thicker and crunchier texture.

As the weather gets colder, how about a hot milk drink e.g. make your own hot chocolate with some cocoa, natural sweetener e.g. stevia and skim milk. If you want to try something different, sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on the top- this gives it a spicy flavour and also make your blood sugar levels rise even more slowly, leaving you feeling energized and full.

You can also buy nescafe cafe style coffee e.g. skim latte or jarrah hot chocolates that you usually just add water too, I would suggest actually adding in some milk so that you get some additional protein and low GI carbohydrates from the milk and feel fuller for longer. Yes this may bump up the kilojoules slightly compared to what the packet claims, but it will mean you do not snack on extra foods after its consumption.

Protein shakes- be warned, they are not all great choices! Musashi has a couple good choices- high protein powder and fat metaboliser powder. These drinks both have quite a bit of protein and fibre per serve. Otherwise, buying a straight whey protein isolate powder and making it up with water or skim milk will be your other best option. These should definitely fill you up, and would mean that the protein serve at your next meal should be reduced substantially or even completely taken out. If you are out on the road, and do not have time to make up a drink yourself, musashis 30g of protein drink (grey carton) can often be found in petrol stations, or sanitariums Energize (grey version of Up and Go) will also hit the spot!

If you are not a milk drinker, use a reduced fat soy milk that is fortified with calcium, as soy milk also has a low GI. Rice milk has a high GI and is therefore not really the best switch in this case.

If you have a sweet tooth and like ice cream I would suggest the skinny cow range- these have added fibre and so will keep you full (the ice cream sundays and sticks, not so much the sandwiches).

Moving on from dairy, how about some vegies?

Cup a soups- just make sure they have a serve or two of vegetables in them (they will market this!)- you should also look out for fibre, make sure it has a couple of grams at least. Sodium is the other big player when it comes to packeted soups- be aware that you usually have around 200-250mls of the end product, so whatever the sodium is per 100ml, you are likely to get double, and this could equate to a lot if there is 300mg + per 100ml.

Fresh soups- even better than the example above: cook up a big pot of fresh homemade soup over the weekend, then take 1-2 cups with you in a container during the week wherever you go- heat and serve!

Chop up a range of vegetable sticks e.g. carrot, celery, cucumber and red capsicum and get 1-2 tbsp of a dip you enjoy that is not cream based e.g. hummus, tahina, salsa, tzatsiki (yoghurt based), spicy carrot, beetroot (the list goes on!) and consume them together.

Cook some broccoli and cauliflower and add a couple tablespoons of a stir fry sauce or tomato based pasta sauce that is warmed up over the top. Quick, easy, filling, and if using a sauce you like, I hope you also find it tasty!

Steam some corn on a cob and sprinkle it with seasoning, this with a small can of baked beans will be sure to bump up your fibre intake.

My favourite at the moment, sweet potato- pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees, leave the skin on and cut into thick circular slices, spray with oil and sprinkle with curry powder, tumeric or paprika, a dash of cracked pepper and iodised salt, bake / roast for 20 minutes, and enjoy! You may like to try butternut pumpkin or carisma potatoes in place of the sweet potato, again just having a few small pieces should be ample.

As you can see, I have only gotten through 2 of the food groups and have already listed a number of snack ideas. I will leave you with these snacks for this week, and in an upcoming post will continue to generate ideas for you around wholegrains, healthy fats, fruit and protein sources.

If anyone else has any snack ideas that are in line with my suggestion of high fibre, high protein and low GI, please do share with us all, I am sure everyone would love to hear them!

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