Ever sat at your desk at work and demolished a whole container of nuts that were meant to last the week, or come out of the movie theatre amazed at the fact you ate all the popcorn that you got to snack on? This is called distracted snacking and almost all of us, have done it before.
Snacking is a topic I get asked about a lot by clients and there is conflicting information out there. Do we need to snack or is it best to have only three meals a day? The answer is, listen to YOUR body. If you are hungry then, yes, snack!
Due to the fast pace world we live in, we sometimes forget to tune into our needs and this can lead to over-consuming during the day, or the opposite, skipping meals and coming home to realise you could eat the whole pantry in one sitting!
This is why it is so important to practice mindful eating and especially mindful snacking. Here are some of my tips to healthier snacking to help glide you through to the next meal.
How to manage distracted eating
Often, snacking is non-mindful eating and when we are distracted, we can consume more calories than our body requires. This is when we gain unwanted weight. Think about the movie popcorn experience or the bag of chips we can consume in front of the TV in one sitting.
Research shows that when you are distracted or not paying attention to our eating behaviours, we tend to eat more. Most of us know this, but how often do we practice mindful eating and take 10 minutes away from our computers, TV screens or phones, to slowly enjoy a snack and savour the taste?
The next time you reach for a snack, ask yourself these mindfulness snacking questions:
Am I really hungry?
Could I reach for a piece of fruit or am I wanting something in particular to eat?
Have I had enough water to drink today? Is my urine a ‘light yellow’ colour?
Am I eating out of boredom?
Am I craving sometime sweet, savoury or salty?
Am I snacking because it is morning or afternoon tea and everyone else is snacking around me?
These questions will not only help you towards understanding your eating habits better, but may also help you make healthier choices and manage your distracted eating behaviours. Learning how to snack mindfully can help you create a healthier relationship with food and propel you towards your health goals.
When it comes to choosing snacks, look for foods that will nourish you and give you sustained energy throughout the day. I know for myself, that when I have snacks that are high in fibre and protein (such as fruit, nuts or a quality muesli bar) I am more likely to have sustained energy and satiety to help me through to my next meal. If I compare this to when I have high sugar/ refined snacks, these leave me low in energy and hungry 30 minutes after consuming them.
Additionally, choosing snacks doesn’t mean you have to eat ‘clean’ and all non-packaged goods. Sometimes having healthy packaged foods can be convenient and still lead towards making healthier choices.
One such option for me are the new OSM Everyday Nutrition muesli bars. These come in 3 delicious flavours (Salted Maple Ancient Grain & Seed, Crunchy Peanut Butter and Blueberry & Blackcurrant) and contain high amounts of dietary fibre (9.6g per 100g) and good amounts of protein (16.0g per 100g). They are delicious and an easy healthy snack option that contains less than 10g of sugar per bar compared to a standard muesli bar which can contain more than 50% of their ingredients as refined sugar. Choosing these is a nutritional no-brainer when it comes to convenient packaged snacks and they are in line with the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code.
Other snack options that I love are a palmful of mixed raw nuts, unsweetened yoghurt with a sprinkle of home-made muesli and blueberries, protein balls and fresh fruit! Other great options that I recommend to clients are high fibre crackers with protein based spreads (such as hummus or peanut butter), chopped vegetables with protein based spreads (hummus again and pesto) and healthy baking ideas.
Snacking guilt free
The Western world seems to be consumed by the latest diet fads and the newest superfoods and we are often told to eliminate certain foods and eat ‘clean’ and take away the ‘bad’ foods from our diets. I get frustrated when I hear people talk about ‘eating clean’ or taking the ‘bad food out of their diets’. Food is neither ‘clean or dirty’, ‘bad or good’. Food is nourishing or none nourishing, simple!
When it comes to snacking, we should avoid using these phrases to identify our food choices. Food guilt has no place in a balanced diet, so if you really feel like something that might not be nutritiously dense then have it and enjoy it, and leave out the guilt. Food should be enjoyed and if we consume foods that majority of the time are nourishing, and we understand that sometimes we will have non-nourishing foods, then we will gain a better relationship with food and live healthier, happier lives.
Because we live in such a fast-paced world, we can forget, sometimes, to plan meals ahead of time or take snacks with us to work or school that will nourish us. Food prep is so important when it comes to making healthier choices and propelling us towards our health goals.
When it comes to snack prep, have snacks available in your lunch box, office desk or handbag that you can eat when you identify you are hungry. Try to keep these snacks in portion size amounts, such a palmful of nuts in a small container, a boiled egg, 2 tablespoons of hummus with 1 cup of carrot sticks or an OSM Everyday Nutrition bar!
Lastly, enjoy your food!
By managing mindfulness snacking, choosing snacks that will sustain your energy and fullness the majority of the time and not placing guilt on foods you eat, you will live healthier and happier lives and have a better relationship with food!
For more tips on mindfulness snacking, please get in touch.
Love from your OSM Nutritionist- Abby Shaw