Snacking is good for you. When you snack, you’re not only curbing hunger but also helping to regulate your blood sugar levels.
“That translates into maintaining energy throughout the day,” says Jayda Siggers, a nutrition consultant and owner of Eat Whole, Be Vital, in Ottawa.
However, keeping that energy up during a busy workday depends on choosing healthy snacks.
Siggers suggests three ways to fulfill your snack cravings in a healthier ways:
> Indulge your sweet tooth with fruit — not candy
Instead of jumping to chocolate for your sugar fix, try some juicy fruits such as strawberries, apples and grapes.
If you enjoy apples, Siggers says, add a tablespoon of peanut butter, almond butter or another nut butter of your choice. This mixture is a good way to combine nutrients, which results in a more nutrient-heavy and filling snack.
If you’re looking for an even sweeter snack, have some dried fruit, such as dried apricots or dates.
“Dates are extremely high in sugar,” Siggers says. “But you do get the added fibre and other nutrients that go along with them, so I don’t see them as too terrible.”
However, you should modify your portion size. Siggers recommends sticking to two dates as a snack.
> Load up on carbs through whole grains
“Carbohydrates are necessary as part of our diet because that is where we get most of our sugar,” Siggers says. “Sugar is the main source of fuel for our brains.”
However, you should look for carbs in foods that will also provide nutrients, so snack on whole grain crackers that are higher in fibre. Whole grains are also a source of vitamin B, which provide energy and are necessary for our bodies’ metabolic processes.
> Get your salty fix from nuts and seeds
Sodium gets a bad rap but our bodies actually do require a moderate amount. Sodium helps maintain the balance of fluids in our bodies and is involved in the contraction and relaxation of muscles, according to the Mayo Clinic Rochester, Minn.
Instead of filling up on potato chips, try some salted nuts. Nuts are high in calories but are still a healthier alternative, thanks to their protein and healthy fats. Just limit your snack size, sticking to 10 or 12 nuts.
“Because nuts are so nutrient-dense, you’re going to feel more full after having a handful of nuts compared to a bowl of chips,” Siggers says.
Another way to combine nutrients is to cut a ripe avocado in half, remove the pit and fill the gaps left by the pit with salted sunflower seeds. This snack gives you healthy fat from the avocado and carbohydrates from the seeds.
If you really love your chips (or your sweet chocolates or cookies), use them as a way to treat yourself during a long day. So, if Mondays are your craziest day of the week and having that guilty pleasure makes you feel better, indulge a little, Sigges says. Just don’t use the salty or sweet foods to satisfy hunger.