More often than not, snacking is what makes or breaks a healthy diet. You might be ticking the boxes with your main meals and physical activity, but little things can sneak into our seemingly healthy routine and become engrained habits … and before you realise, these little habits can add up and counteract our good intentions. That creamy latte in the morning, chips and chocolate bar from the vending machine at work and buttery banana bread from the café… Old habits die hard and it’s important to have some healthy snack options handy as a safety net against less healthy choices.
As dietitians, we’re not bulletproof to hunger pangs and snacking either. We actually think snacks can be another opportunity to fuel your body. That’s why we’ve put together 5 healthy snacks to keep you fuelled for the day and give you a good dose of nutrients.
1. Low fat yoghurt
A fantastic source of calcium for bone and muscle health and also a hunger-busting hit of protein. Did you know that young adults are recommended to have 2 ½ serves of dairy foods per day to hit their daily calcium target? Unfortunately, less than half the Australian population actually do so. So why not try yoghurt as part of your morning or afternoon tea? Choose varieties that are unsweetened and low in saturated fat, like plain Chobani yoghurt (which is also high in protein). For a little sweetness, add your favourite fresh fruits like berries and banana for a high-fibre plus.
2. Homemade hummus
Ahhh, our beloved hummus. Chickpeas (the main component of hummus) are nutritional powerhouses. High in protein and low GI, which both work to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Pair them with veggie sticks or wholegrain crackers for a perfect snack that is high in added fibre and a host of vitamins and minerals. Hummus is super easy to whip up, so why not try to make your own? You’ll also avoid the excessive oil, salt and additives found in some store-bought varieties. You can try our easy peasy recipe here.
A great moreish snack! The trick is to choose plain air-popped popcorn, rather than the flavoured oil-popped popcorns to avoid unwanted kilojoules from fat and salt. Try adding your own flavouring by tossing through smoked paprika or garlic powder for savoury popcorn, and cocoa powder for a sweet snack.
A quintessential summer treat, but be careful of store-bought varieties as they can be laden with sugars from frozen yoghurt and honey. Make them at home with skim milk for added calcium and add nuts or chia seeds for some healthy fats. It can be easy to go overboard with fruit, so try to stick to one serve of fruit per smoothie. Try our delicious smoothie recipe here.
5. A handful of nuts
Another nutritional superstar. Nuts are high in protein, healthy fats and fibre as well as micronutrients such as selenium and vitamin E for bouncy skin and lush hair. A handful of nuts five times a week may also reduce your risk of heart disease by half. Be sure to choose a low-salt varieties and stick to a small handful (about 30g) – even though it can be very tempting to eat a whole bag!
So that’s 5 healthy snacks we love – but what about foods we avoid?
As dietitians, we live by the mantra that all foods can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy balanced lifestyle. No individual food should be deemed ‘bad’, but there are some foods that should be eaten less often. They could be called ‘sometimes’ foods since they provide little nutritional benefit to us. That’s right, we’re talking about chocolate, chips, lollies, cakes, biscuits, fries, ice cream, soft drinks… while these ‘sometimes’ foods can add to the enjoyment of eating, we should be mindful that they’re often high in saturated fat, salt and sugar and therefore rake in a whole lot of kilojoules and inches on our waistline. It is important to limit saturated fat and sodium in your diet as they both contribute to the development of heart disease. It is also key to limit sugar intake to manage blood sugar levels and prevent tooth decay.
So get creative and spare a few minutes on the weekend or evening to plan out your weekly stash of healthy snacks! It will boost your health AND help you stick to your good intentions. While these are only our top five fave snacks, we’d love to hear some of your favourite healthy snacks below!
Check out some of our healthy snack recipes here!
This post was written by Melissa Meier and edited by Michelle Hsu, who are interns at The Biting Truth and are currently studying their Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics at The University of Sydney.