Day 18 of our 30-day nutrition challenge is to help you resist the urge to snack more than you need to, and to share with you some of our snack recipes.
It’s perfectly natural when feeling stressed, anxious or when you’ve not had a great night sleep to crave snacks and sweeter foods – our brain is programmed that way to look for foods which are energy dense giving us a quick energy boost from simple sugars. So yes, quite often these foods are comfort foods but they also can boost our levels of a neurotransmitter called dopamine which is all about reward and pleasure.
Stress and anxiety also effect decision making, making it more difficult to make a decision – even the simple ones!
Here’s some of our suggestions to help you resist snacking:
- Make a packed lunch even if you’re at home all day. Putting all the items in one container can help to remind you what’s to last until dinner time
- Don’t shop when you’re hungry, you’ll likely to pick the less healthy items
- If it’s not in the house you can’t eat it
- Schedule in breaks where you can catch up with a friend/colleague to distract you
- Have a glass of water as often we mistake hunger for thirst
When’s the right time to snack?
Ideally if you have breakfast around 8am you shouldn’t need to snack until lunchtime – that is assuming lunch is around midday. If there’s a gap greater than 4 hours then yes you may need to reach for a mid-morning snack. Hopefully breakfast had sufficient protein content to keep hunger at bay for at least three hours. If you’re hungry within three hours of breakfast check there was enough protein (milk, eggs, nut butter, seeded/granary toast). Check out our Day 4 challenge and our Bitesize Basics webinar which include further information about protein.
Mid-afternoon is a little different and the energy slump can often catch us off guard, leaving us hunting for snacks when concentration levels crash. There’s often snacks available – some healthier than others…. A mid-afternoon snack is a good time to include one of your 5-a-day, an apple or banana with nut butter, yogurt and granola, trail mix etc…
Here’s some of our favourite snack recipes which can tempt you away from reaching into the biscuit tin, leaving you feeling a little more virtuous:
Yogurt & granola
- 6tbsp plain (not flavoured) yogurt
- 2tbsp granola (low sugar variety)
- 1 x handful blueberries (or any red/purple berry fruit)
Add yogurt to bowl. Top with granola, and sprinkle on berries.
Hummous & crudités
- 2 x tbsp hummous
- 1 x peeled carrot/celery/red pepper
Dip crudités into hummous for a light healthy snack.
Click here to link to one of our recipe blogs
- ½ courgette (in thin slices using a peeler)
- 1tbsp pesto
- 2 x large eggs
- ½ tsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Coat inside of two deep muffin cake tin holes with olive oil. Line each muffin hole with courgette. Whisk egg and pesto with fork and pour on top courgette. Bake for 20mins.
Mini falafel burgers
- 200g can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
- 1 x small Spanish onion finely chopped
- 1 x garlic clove crushed/chopped
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Combine all ingredients into food processor and blend into thick paste. Preheat grill to medium heat, and roll small handfuls of the falafel mix into balls then flatten into burger shape. Place burgers onto baking tray and grill for 4-5 min on each side
- 3 x handfuls of mixed natural nuts
- 1 x handful mixed nuts
- 1 x handful dried cranberries
- 1 x handful coconut shavings
Combine all in an air-tight jar and give a good shake.
Nutty chicken skewers
- 2 x tbsp almond/cashew butter
- 2 x chicken breasts
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 2 tsp lime/lemon juice
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- ½ cucumber
- Sweet chilli sauce (to serve)
Preheat oven 200c. Combine nut butter, curry powder, lime/lemon juice, soy sauce in a bowl.
Cut chicken into strips and add to nut butter mix. Mix well. Place coated strips on baking tray into oven for 10 mins checking chicken is well cooked before serving.
If you’d like to find out more tips to improve your health check out our webinars and our Bitesize Nutrition podcasts. If you’re not (yet!) into podcasts listen free without registration on your phone or PC by clicking on the podcast link in this paragraph, or find Bitesize Nutrition on iTunes & Spotify.
Don’t forget to let us know what you think using #nutritionchallenge30
- The information in this article is for educational purposes and should not replace medical advice.
- The information is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.
- If you have a diagnosed medical condition, you should consult a doctor before making any major changes to your diet, and;
- Some supplements may interact with medications and you should check with your GP before commencing any supplement programme.