Losing weight with the help of snacks might not seem that plausible, but having some healthy high protein snacks to hand can help you keep a lid on bad habits and unhealthy cravings.
Rather like death and taxes, feeling the urge to have a snack is inevitable, even for the strongest willed people. You can have the best of intentions, but even if you’re super-disciplined every so often you’re going to see that packet of crisps you forgot about in your desk drawer, or spot a chocolate bar from the corner of your eye next to the supermarket till. There’s no harm in these as a one-off treat on rare occasions, but many of us will want a quick snack more often than that. Luckily, there are some health alternatives you can rely on when you get just that little bit peckish!
That's why chocolate bars and other classic go-to snacks don't really help in the long run – they're filled with mostly empty calories, and don't contain a huge amount of fibre and protein, which help you feel fuller for longer.
In terms of what healthy snacks you should go for, you can never go wrong with nuts like peanuts, cashews or almonds, although avoid ones which are salted or have additional flavours added.) They’re healthy vegan snacks packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals. There is no nutritionally complete snack out there, but these come close and won’t fill you with ‘empty’ calories the way most snacks will.
Dried fruits too are excellent, such as dried banana, apricots or apple, but these can trip you up with their sugar content, so keep an eye on them. Fresh fruit, especially bananas, grapes, raspberries or blueberries are also excellent snacks but again, watch out for the sugar content.
Another potential pitfall are that dried fruits and nuts tend to be small in size, and it’s incredibly easy to eat a lot of them in one hit. We’ll discuss portion control in a bit more detail later on.
Some other superlatively healthy savoury snacks include carrot batons, celery sticks, and chickpeas (roasted, for extra deliciousness). We've even come up with some 'snacks' of our own: the Huel Bar and Huel Complete Protein - a nutritionally complete, healthy vegan protein snack.
Certain foods get labelled as healthy when, at least in some contexts, that is not necessarily true. Here’s a few possible snacks which you might think of as a healthy option, which might not be the brilliant option you think they are:
Here you will find a few other snack choices. Some of them may be a little naughtier than others, but none of them are going to be as bad as classic snacks like chocolate, crisps or sweets.
There are a few other tricks and tips for managing your snack cravings.
It might feel like we're stating the super-obvious here, but the biggest step you can take into the world of healthy snacking is to have fewer snacks in your house. If you can maintain your willpower whilst shopping, you won’t have to stand as strong at home.
A simple way to help with this is to make sure you never shop whilst feeling hungry. It’s hard to resist throwing that multipack of crisps into the trolley when your stomach is growling! It’s not just your waistline that will be grateful, your wallet will be too!
Changing your environment can extend beyond your cupboards though. A lot of people take to snacking as a way of coping with stress, and that’s completely understandable. However, it can open the door for bad eating habits to form – next time you’re thinking about eating your way through a tough day at work, try going for a walk or reading a book for a bit of escapism. If going to the kitchen and munching on biscuits is how you get away from your desk for some much-needed headspace, try swapping the snacks for a drink of water or a cup of tea instead.
The most ubiquitous lie in the world is “serves two”! We all know that if you buy a bigger packet of crisps that supposedly for two that you’re going to eat them all for yourself. This is particularly acute if you hate the sight of wasted food. There is even a class element to this, if you grew up unsure of when the next meal will come you are much more likely to overload your plate as an adult.
It's probably not a surprise that weight gain and oversized portion go hand-in-hand. It doesn't matter if you've prepared a nicely balanced and nutritious meal – if you eat far more than your body can burn off with exercise, you’re going to put on the pounds.
Fortunately, portion control doesn't mean you need to be constantly reaching for the scales to measure everything that ends up on your plate, nor does it mean you have to starve yourself. Getting portion sizes right can be more of an art than a science, but at least when it comes to snacking much of the work has often been done for you.
Opt for multi-packs of snacks containing smaller 30g packs, as opposed to a tube of crisps or a 200g share bag, totalling six-or-seven servings in one go. Try and set some boundaries, for example if you must have some chocolate limit yourself to a couple of squares rather than the whole bar.
It’s treat day. You’ve gone to the cinema with some friends and damn it you’re having a big bucket of popcorn! The lights are down, you’re halfway through the trailers for the upcoming films… and your hand strikes the bottom of the bucket. You’ve eaten the whole lot without even realising it before the film even started.
We’ve all been there. Snacking without thinking about it is really common, and not just in the cinema! Try being more mindful when you eat. Really think about what you’re eating and how it makes you feel – does this actually taste good? Is it satisfying? Am I full? Asking these types of questions will help you keep you on the right track.
Try writing a food diary for a week, recording everything you eat and drink. You might well be surprised at just how much you graze between meals, especially as more and more of us are now working at home. This can help you to spot what times of day you’re more likely to reach for a little something and what the triggers might be, whether it’s needing to get away from the computer screen or fitting it in around family schedules, and help you plan strategies for better snacking at those times.
While switching to healthier snacking alone won't shed those pounds, keeping your habits in check and maximising your nutritional intake when you find yourself hungry between meals will most certainly help.
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