Here’s the thing. We may do our very best to eat three sensible meals each day, but snacking is our kryptonite. With our spending hours in front of a desk five days a week, it’s all too easy to pass the time with food treats.
This can be bad for our health because all the mindless eating can lead to weight gain. Even worse, carbohydrate-laden treats like biscuits and chips can cause a spike in our blood sugar, sending our energy levels crashing afterwards.
Often, snack choice is down to what we have available around us. Therefore, step number one should be to eliminate unhealthy snack foods from your work and home environment, and stock up on healthy alternatives instead.
For starters, try a glass of water the next time you feel peckish; chances are you’re thirsty rather than hungry. If you’re still hankering for something to chomp on, try some of the ideas listed here instead.
All images: 123rf.com
Soda is terrible for your teeth, and diet varieties sweetened with artificial sweeteners, which may still make your body store fat, can be just as harmful as those full of sugar.
REPLACE – Sparkling water
If you love soda, it’s a great idea to keep a large bottle of sparkling water by your desk to sip on throughout the day. You’ll get the bubbly, fizzy hit with none of the calories, harmful sweeteners, excess sugar and additives.
Jelly sweets tend to be made with beef gelatin and additives derived from animals, which seems kind of strange when you think about the fact they’re meant to replicate the flavour of fruits. They’re also high in sugar; there is a reason why they’re called sweets, after all.
REPLACE – Berries
Berries are nature’s sweets; strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are the best choices. They’re chockfull of anti-ageing antioxidants and so satisfying. Indulge in a whole punnet; your colleagues may even envy you. If berries aren’t in season or if they’re too costly for your budget, watermelon is also a good, very low GI choice.
A glass of this sweet juice is by no means the most unhealthy drink – but it can cause problems in excess. Juice on its own – even with bits of “pulp” – is very sugary, with nothing to balance it out and slow down the release of fructose
REPLACE – An orange
Skip the juice and simply eat an orange as nature intended. With the whole piece of fruit you can reap the full nutritional benefits including fibre from the segment’s skin, pulp and any remaining bits from the inner part of the peel. These can help to keep your blood sugar in balance.
Seasonal flavoured drinks from large coffee chains can pack in half a day’s worth of calories in a cup. This is truly one of the worst ways to ‘drink’ our calories.
REPLACE – Soya latte or black coffee
Soy milk is high in protein and low in fat and carbs – so a soy latte can be a great snack and pick-me-up halfway through the day. Alternatively, black coffee or green tea will also provide a hit of caffeine without any additional calories.
Chocolate chip cookies, double chocolate biscuit sandwich, Oreos and more: chocolate biscuit permutations are seemingly endless. And they seem to be a staple of the office snack cupboard too, no matter your occupation, so they can be difficult to avoid.
REPLACE – Rice cake, apple and nuts
Try rice or corn cakes with a thin spread of smooth peanut butter (you tend to use less of smooth versus chunky, so that means fewer calories), with an apple on the side. The crunch and sweetness will keep you satiated, with the addition of vitamins, minerals and fibre to boot.
Cheese is full of unhealthy saturated fat and may come spiked with bovine growth hormones, while crackers are empty carbs which quickly turn to sugar in the body. They contain virtually no fibre and won’t keep you full for long.
REPLACE – Popcorn
Unsweetened popcorn, plain rice cakes, corn cakes, rye crackers or oatcakes are all great alternatives which provide that crunchy bite and biscuit-type texture with fewer calories, more fibre and minerals.
You can forget any beneficial nutrition from the humble potato when you slice it thinly, coat it in fat and salt and fry it. Chips or crisps are almost always very high in salt and fat and we can go through an entire packet and still want more.
REPLACE – Vegetable sticks and hummus
Carrots, cucumber and celery are all good choices. Chop up a big bag and bring them to work with half a pot of hummus (try not to go overboard with the toppings), and you can crunch your way through the day guilt-free.
Milk chocolate tends to be very high in fat, sugar and additives – sometimes containing double that found in darker varieties. It’s a snack best had a square at a time, but many of us are more likely to work our way through a whole bar.
REPLACE – Dark chocolate
Intense dark chocolate composed of 65 percent solids or more can be enjoyed slowly, which means you end up eating more. It has a higher melting point so it needs to stay in the mouth longer for it to melt. Plus, it contains anti-ageing antioxidants, minerals, and may help to improve heart health.
These tend to be really high in fat, salt and various other ‘artificial’ additives. You can get through a small bag quickly; whatever protein and vitamins you’re reaping simply isn’t worth the empty calories and excess sodium.
REPLACE – Trail mix
Try mixing up some unsalted mixed almonds and walnuts, raw pumpkin and sunflower seeds and some unprocessed dried fruit for a texturally interesting snack with a balance of fat, carbs and protein. Try to limit your intake so you don’t go overboard: maybe measure out daily portions and allow yourself one a day.
Milkshakes may be convenient and refreshing to down on a sweltering day, but they also tend to be loaded with fat and sugar. They’re a deceptively easy way to drink away a day’s worth of calories without even noticing.
REPLACE – Protein shake
Invest in protein powder and a shaker to create a sweet and filling snack drink in an instant; just add water or soymilk. Using a protein powder that boasts a vanilla, chocolate or berry flavour can make it taste like a milkshake but with lower levels of sugar and fat, higher protein and even some vitamins and minerals thrown in for good measure.