Ah, the world of snacking. Healthy snacking. It sounds deceptively simple really, doesn’t it? But in the modern western world, trying to snack healthily can be ridiculously difficult, much more difficult than something as basic as a mid-morning snack ought to be. The problem is the wealth of convenience food available everywhere. It’s always the same, you’re at work or college, you’re in a rush, and so you nip into a shop and there in rows by the checkout are all kinds of chocolate bars, maybe some crisps, packets of sweets… The temptation to just grab some junk food and carry on with your day is always there.
However, healthy snacking isn’t as complicated as you might think, especially if you just follow a couple of tricks. Firstly, always prepare in advance. If you know you’re going to be out all day then pack yourself something to eat. Just make yourself a salad, an extra sandwich, a small pot of dried fruit and nuts, a banana or anything else that takes your fancy, then not only do you save money but you can also be sure that you are eating something nutritious. The second thing to remember is that if you do buy something, don’t always be drawn in by the promise of food labelled ‘low-calorie’/‘low-fat’, often all this means is that it’s high in sugar. Make sure you check the actual ingredients – they are listed proportionally so if sugar or oil comes up first or second on the list then you know it’s not going to be very healthy! Checking the nutritional information of a packet is important because not only can you make sure it has healthy levels of things like saturated fat, you can also make sure that the ingredients are relatively natural. The more natural the snack, the better.
My favourite healthy, easily portable snacks of choice are not in any way groundbreaking. I just know what I like to eat, what I have time to make, and what is good for me. Here are my top four favourites:
1. Bananas. So simple but they really do make great snacks. They fill you right up and are packed full of energy so can easily see you through a couple of hours.
2. Smoothies. If you have a tumbler of some kind then you can make your own before you leave – the combination possibilities are endless, just blend up whatever you fancy. Even if you don’t have a tumbler then you can buy smoothies in most food stores, just make sure they don’t have anything added to them (like extra sugar!).
3. Packed lunches. This is for days when you spend your time away from home and need enough food to get you through your work or other activities. I like to make myself a salad with a form of grain, protein and vegetable(s), take some fruit, and take a snack for the morning or afternoon like some almonds and crackers etc.
4. Snack bars. These are a good option for the days when you do not have time to prepare any food. There are plenty of healthy options; it is just a case of finding some that you like and always having a couple stashed away.
These are just a few ideas, there are plenty more options to choose from. Just pick something quick and simple to make that is also nutritious and filling. So don’t forget, just prepare ahead and if that is not possible, choose wisely!