The purpose of a snack is to keep your blood sugar nice and even and is an opportunity to consume some nutrients. In theory, any food can be a snack food but in practice there are some traditional favourites that are quick and work well.
It’s great to get a couple of food groups into a snack as it will keep you going for longer.
Carbohydrate: Stick to slow-release carbohydrates to maintain a good blood sugar level. Avoid sweets and refined carbs as stand-alone snacks because these will cause blood sugar spikes. Save sugary foods for puddings, straight after a meal where the fibre will moderate the rate of glucose absorption.
Protein: Adding some protein will keep you fuller for longer.
Fruit/veg: Vitamins and minerals are needed for nearly every process in the body and you need to get at least five portions a day, so snacking on fruit and veg is a great way to boost your intake.
- Oatcakes, wholegrain crackers such as rice cakes or granary bread, with peanut butter / cream cheese / houmous / roast beef / salmon / tuna / mackerel
- Fruit (fresh or dried) – with yogurt or cottage cheese
- Vegetables – carrots, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap or mangetout peas, olives, celery, radishes all work well raw with minimal preparation to dip in soft cheese or houmous
- Nuts and seeds – mixed with fruit or yogurt
- Yogurt (preferably natural) with / seed / oat /
- fruit toppings
- Popcorn (unsweetened)
When deciding what the right portion size for a snack is, it’s good to take a couple of things into account.
Hunger: If you are really hungry then a larger snack might be more appropriate.
Time until next meal: If lunch is in half an hour then having a few grapes might be a better snack than grapes and yogurt.
Context throughout the day: Count up your portions throughout the day. For example, you need 4-6 portions of carbs in a day. If you have one portion at breakfast, one at lunch and one at dinner, that’s three portions. Depending on your hunger levels, half a portion at each snack might be appropriate, giving you four portions of carbs in total across the day.