SNACKING & HYDRATION: ARE YOU DOING IT RIGHT?
Time to read 5 min
Time to read 5 min
With growing numbers of processed foods hitting supermarket shelves and a seemingly never-ending stream of sugar-filled snacks disguised as ‘health’ treats, it’s easy to see why many people struggle to differentiate between nutritious snacks and those that are going to lead them further away from their health goal than when they first started. In fact, here are a few common snacking pitfalls that many of us are unwittingly guilty of doing:
Choosing snacks that are the same portion size as a main meal
Choosing low-fibre and low-fat snacks that result in you feeling unsatisfied and reaching for more snacks
Snacking out of boredom rather than listening to the signals your body is giving you
Choosing snacks that appear healthy but are riddled with salt, sugar and fat
Sounds familiar? If, like many of us, you’re known to fall into one (or multiple) of the categories above, here are our top five snack hacks to up the ante on your health game in 2019:
Snack Hack #1: Listen to your hunger signals
Have you ever felt a serious sense of accomplishment by prepping all of your healthy meals and snacks for the week and stacking them neatly in the work fridge, only to find that you’ve inhaled them all by 10 am? You are certainly not alone. When it comes to organising ahead of time and planning your healthy snacks, it’s important not to eat on autopilot. Despite the age-old belief that we should eat every two to three hours to boost our metabolism and keep our body feeling satiated consistently throughout the day, it’s also important not to fall into the habit of eating unnecessarily if you aren’t actually hungry. Instead, look for your body’s hunger cues and if you aren’t sure, always test your ‘hunger levels’ with a glass of water or a piece of fruit prior to diving right into that three-course meal you convinced yourself was a snack.
Tip - Portion it out and only bring what you need. For example, instead of bringing a large bag of nuts to work to snack on throughout the week, portion them into separate containers and ensure that you can only see the snacks for that day. If it’s not yet a habit, don’t tease yourself by having extra snacks laying around!
Snack Hack #2: Learn to limit the processed stuff
From triple layered burgers and cakes to lollies, pizza rolls and loaded fries with all the extras, there’s no denying how delicious and tempting a life filled with processed food sounds. Yet, despite the cheesy mountain of fries and the mouthwatering slice of pizza that’s been staring right at you from the fridge, it’s no secret that the more processed food you consume, the higher the sugar and salt content, which will leave you with minimal energy and stronger cravings to continue eating.
The solution? Don’t worry, we won’t ask you to cut out all the good things in life, however, we will encourage you to learn to limit them. Instead of reaching for that doughnut in between healthy meals, why not trade it in for a rice cake with peanut butter, blueberries and cinnamon? Instead of devouring that leftover piece of pizza as soon as you get home from work, try making a healthy pizza pocket alternative with a thin wrap and all of your favourite toppings. Limiting processed foods doesn’t mean you need to restrict yourself entirely, it simply means you need to find smarter and healthier ways to enjoy the flavours you love most. Get creative with your snacks!
Snack Hack #3 - Location, location, location
Freshly washed linen and chocolate coated popcorn….name a better combo? I’ll wait! If you’ve fallen into the cycle of snacking from the comfort of your bed while binge-watching Married at First Sight or from your car while driving to and from meetings, guess what? You’re most likely eating mindlessly!
When it comes to healthy snacking and setting a routine, the most effective way of creating sustainable and healthy habits is to eat only at the table (i.e the dining table at home or in the office kitchen). Wondering why? Whether it’s in front of the TV, in bed, in the car, or even at your work desk, if you get used to eating anywhere besides the table, you will start to associate food with those places, which will result in you always opting to eat there. And as those places are generally riddled with distraction, you aren’t actually focusing on your hunger cues or the signals your body is giving you to let you know that it’s full, which means you’re almost always prone to eating more than you require.
Snack Hack #4- Be a smart snacker
If you’re looking to complement your healthy meal plan with equally nutritious snacks, it’s important to prioritise protein and fibre-rich snacks. As both protein and fibre take longer to digest and break down, they will keep you feeling fuller and more satisfied for longer, minimising the chances of you reaching for that chocolate bar at 3 pm.
Likewise, when it comes to snacking, it’s a great idea to plan ahead so you can use them effectively to hit your daily nutrition targets. Perhaps it’s healthy chicken bites to help you reach your daily protein goals or veggie sticks with low-fat cream cheese to increase your vegetable intake, there are plenty of ways you can use snacks to help you meet your daily goals.
Tip - If you can put aside a spare hour during the week, why not spend it preparing some healthy snacks? It doesn’t have to be as involved as preparing a whole meal, it can be as simple as prepping the ingredients. For example, boil up some eggs and slice up your vegetables so you have easy snacks that are ready to go.
Snack Hack #5 - Is it hunger or thirst?
How many times have you gone from the pantry to the fridge picking at foods trying to satisfy a hunger craving, to work out two doughnuts, one burrito and a packet of chips later that it was just thirst? When it comes to satisfying your body and those cues that you assume are hunger-related, it’s a great idea to get into the habit of testing for thirst first. Why? Well, if it wasn’t already obvious before, there’s little point feeding your body with food it isn’t asking for, nor requires, if it’s just after a little hydration. Especially where mindless eating and nutritional goals are concerned, those extra calories you consume while trying to work out what your body is after can send you miles away from your health goals when done repeatedly.
The solution? It’s simple...Drink up! Not only will it keep you feeling fuller while simultaneously minimising mindless eating, but it’s also incredibly important for maintaining the function of every system in your body, including your brain, heart and muscles. While hydration requirements will vary from person to person, a good rule of thumb is to aim for anything over two litres of water a day, generally more if you live an active life as it’s important to replenish the water lost during a workout. If you’re not a huge fan of water or just simply forget to drink it, try making it more exciting. For example, infuse it with fruit (lemons, grapefruit, orange etc.) and herbs (mint) to add a kick of flavour.
Still struggling to stay atop of your snack game? Whether you’re unable to find enough hours in the day to meal prep or simply aren’t sure how to differentiate between the healthy and unhealthy snacks, we’ve got you sorted for the month of March with The ASN Snack Pack. Containing a snack a day for one working week, the ASN Snack Pack proves that snacks can be as delicious as they are nutritious. Click here to find out more!