Let’s face it when it comes to snacking convenience is what we’re always on the search for. This can often lead us to consume high-energy-dense foods that are high in sugar and fat and low in nutrients. The continuous consumption of these foods, can lead to high cholesterol, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, weight gain, and many other negative side effects. Replacing these foods with tasty nutrient-fueled snacks will not only help reduce body fat but reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
It’s good to understand the reasoning behind why we often crave foods at certain times of the day. It can be caused by factors such as habit and hormones. Hands up if you just can’t go without your morning coffee. Is that coffee accompanied by something tasty, such as a muffin, banana bread, or a biscuit? Does that happen almost every day and around the same time? If you’ve answered yes then you’ve formed a habit. Your mind and body expect this to happen and without that little sugar kick you start to feel deprived. But no worries there are ways to trick your body by substituting that little sugar devil with something more nutritious that won’t give your body a sugar spike but will help it regulate your insulin levels.
Another factor that affects food cravings is your hormones, serotonin (feel good chemical that is released when certain substances enter the body- e.g. sugar) floods your body and gives you a mood boost. However, with continuous consumption over time, the brain adapts by anticipating the consumption of sugar therefore reducing receptors and producing less serotonin. This then creates powerful cravings which often lead to a greater sugar intake.
- Below are some tips to avoid those sugary snacks.
- Be prepared! Always have a healthy snack on hand for when hunger hits.
- Drink water. We often mistake hunger for thirst.
- Eat more protein. Ensure that you have a source of protein in every meal to keep those hunger pains at bay.
- Fight Stress. Stress can cause your cravings to go into overdrive, it’s important you monitor your stress level and tackle it through exercise and relaxation rather than food.
- Distance yourself from your cravings. Go do something that will move you away from the food source and distract your mind from the craving. For example, go for a walk or clean around the house.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation may disrupt normal fluctuations in appetite hormones, leading to cravings and poor appetite control.
- Don’t go to the supermarket hungry. Eating before you head to the supermarket helps reduce the risk of unwanted food cravings and impulsive buying.
Now that you know how to avoid those sugary snacks here are a few healthy snack ideas:
- Mixed Nut
- Greek yogurt with berries
- Vegetables eg carrots, cucumber, or celery with hummus
- Smoothie (rule- always include at least 1 green vegetable)
- Air-popped popcorn (no butter- try added spices)
- Stuffed avocados
- Protein/energy balls (2 per snack)
- Roasted chickpeas
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Homemade banana oatmeal muffin
- Nut butter on veggie sticks, rice cakes, or fruit
- Homemade dip and crackers
- Crispbreads with hummus and tomato/ ricotta and blueberries/ tomato, feta and basil
- Tuna rice cakes
- Stewed apples with yogurt
Remember plan to succeed or prepare to fail!