Wednesday 11 April 2012

Healthy Snacks

Sarah Walford, nutritionist at NW3 Nutrition has compiled some information for my gorgeous readers on healthy snacking.

Don't feel guilty about snacking - eating little and often is actually good for you as it can help to keep your blood sugar levels more even. When our blood sugar levels get too low our brains send out the signal that they need more glucose and we're more likely to reach out for a quick fix - chocolate bars, biscuits, cakes, coffee etc. The problem with sweet, sugary snacks and caffeine is that they cause a spike in your blood sugar levels: a quick high followed by a big dip, and when we hit the dip we're reaching out for more sugar and caffeine. By eating healthy snacks in between meals our blood sugar levels will stay more constant and we'll be less tempted to sugar and caffeine fixes.

There are two key nutrients that will help to keep your blood sugar levels more constant: protein and fibre. Both protein and fibre slow down the movement of food from your stomach into the next part of your digestive tract, making you feel fuller for longer, and slow down the release of sugar in to your blood stream. So the perfect snack would have both protein and fibre in it.

Some healthy snack ideas include:
- a small handful of nuts, seeds and fresh or dried fruits - nuts and seeds (not roasted or salted) are a good source of protein, as well as lots of other nutrients, and fresh fruit and dried fruit like dried figs, raisins or dried apricots are high in fibre.
- oatcakes spread with hummus, nut butter or tahini - oats a good source of fibre and also have some protein. Hummus is made from chickpeas, another good source of protein, and tahini is made from sesame seeds, also a source of protein. Nut and seed butters are delicious, and make a great substitute for butter and spreads. Give hazelnut butter a try - it almost tastes like Nutella!
- vegetable sticks (carrot, celery, peppers, cucumber, broccoli spears, cherry tomatoes etc) dipped in hummus, tahini, guacamole etc. Fresh vegetables are full of fibre, and snacking on them will give you a good intake of other valuable nutrients too.
- If you're out and about and looking for a convenient snack be wary of many of the so called healthy snack bars. All but a few have sugar added in various disguises, so double check the ingredients. Some bars that pass the test (no added sugar and taste delicious) are Nak'd bars, Trek bars and Bounce Balls, all available from good health food shops.


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