We all have times when we snack and eating a few snacks throughout the day can be part of a healthy balanced diet. Snacks can give us energy between meals. The type of snacks you eat and when you eat them is key.
Snacking can be a problem if you eat when you don’t need to and the snacks you eat are less healthy. You might snack when you are bored or distracted doing other things, such as using your mobile, working at a desk or watching TV. This is sometimes called ‘mindless snacking’ and can affect your weight if you eat more over time than you realise.
If you think you might be mindless snacking, there are things you can do to eat more mindfully:
- Plan your snacks for the day or week.
- Stick to regular meal times.
- Drink regularly throughout the day to stay hydrated.
- Think about when you are snacking. Do you need to eat at this time?
- Think about why you are snacking – are you bored? Are you feeling sad?
- Is there something else you can do instead of snacking?
- Swap to healthier foods when you can.
You don’t need to give up the foods you enjoy eating. It’s more about getting the balance right by eating more snacks that are lower in fat, sugar and salt and having less healthy snacks less often.
Traffic light food labelling can help you make healthier snack choices. Try to choose food and drink with more greens on the label, which are low in fat, sugar and salt and have ones with more reds less often.
You may also be eating larger portion sizes than you need. Front-of-pack labelling often shows nutrition information per portion instead of per pack. So if you eat more than the stated portion size, you will be eating more than you realise. Try switching to smaller portion sizes when you can.
- Fruit or vegetables are the ultimate fast food. Try to choose a variety when you can.
- Smaller portions of your usual snacks, and less often.
- Plain low-fat yoghurt with fruit.
- Plain popcorn; add spices such as cinnamon for a different flavour.
- Cottage Cheese or reduced fat cheese on a wholegrain cracker with cherry tomatoes.
- Sliced banana on wholemeal toast.
- Crumpet with low fat spread.
- A few dried fruit (apricot/raisins) with unsalted nuts (almonds/walnuts).
- Baked crisps instead of fried.