To snack or not to snack, that is the question. Even when you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle with a good diet, 3 square meals a day, and an excellent exercise routine, those snack cravings can still hit. In fact, these cravings, particularly for junk food, can be even worse after an intense workout when your body needs an energy boost.
But is snack time really as bad as you think? Snacking has a bit of a bad reputation thanks to the sweet treats associated with the vending machines at work and bad habits snacking can result in. However, if you follow our guide to attacking snack time with preparation and nutrition in mind, you’ll find you can beat those cravings in a healthy way that fits into your lifestyle.
Understand the misconceptions
Many people believe that snacking is a bad thing – eating in between meals will ruin your diet or mess up your metabolism. In reality, this doesn’t need to be true. While studies have shown that eating every few hours doesn’t necessarily increase everyone’s metabolism, it may for some people, but for others, snacks can keep them satisfied between mealtimes meaning they don’t overeat when they finally reach the allotted time for their meal.
When you hit that 3pm sugar craving, rather than reach for something that’s going to make your sugar levels spike then dip, or will only satisfy you in the short term, try one of these ideas for healthy alternatives, all under 200 calories and with more benefits than a packet of crisps or piece of cake:
- Small bunch of grapes.
- 2 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt with mixed berries and honey.
- 2 tablespoons of hummus with celery and carrot sticks.
- Large hard boiled egg.
- Apple slices with a tablespoon of peanut butter.
- Mashed banana on wholemeal toast.
- 2 cups of homemade popcorn with spiced seasoning.
Understand your needs
Ask yourself the question, why am I reaching for a snack right now? Is it because your body is lacking protein after a big workout or is it simply because you’re bored and someone brought cake into the office?
If you know your personal propensity towards certain snacks and how your body reacts to them, it can completely demystify the reasoning behind your snacking, as well as finding you better alternatives to take the edge off that craving. Did you know that nutrition DNA tests can reveal what your body may be lacking in and what levels of different nutrients you need? As such, you can balance your predispositions towards craving certain foods – do you reach for the salty crisps and nuts or a huge bar of chocolate? – alongside what your body is really looking for.
One big problem with snacking is that when the craving hits, you’re most likely to grab whatever’s closest and easiest. If you’ve prepared a range of snacks in advance and have them on hand, you’re more likely to stay away from the vending machine and to stick to the plans you’ve made. After all, if you prepare a selection of snacks under a specific calorie limit or with specific cravings in mind, such as popcorn with spicy seasoning if you tend to go savoury, fruit if you go sweet, or nuts if you’re needing a protein boost, you’ll be able to factor these into a healthy diet.
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