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Snacks can be an important part of a healthy diet by providing an energy boost throughout the day, helping us stay satisfied between meals and preventing overeating at mealtimes.  However, eating too many snacks throughout the day or choosing energy dense snacks (those are high in calories, sugar and fat) can lead to unwanted weight gain. There are many factors that influence our desire to snack, such as: hunger, boredom, distracted eating, emotional eating, cravings and socialising.  

Understanding our motivation for snacking can help us make better choices to help maintain a healthy weight.                                                               

How can I reduce snacking throughout the day?

  • Out of sight, out of mind- keeping food behind cupboards will help resist temptation
  • Don’t buy or keep junk/ ultra-processed food in the house
  • Ensure you are drinking enough fluid as sometimes thirst can be mistaken for hunger. Aim for a total of 2 litres a day
  • Eat nutritionally balanced meals 3 times a day- don't skip meals and eat on a regular schedule where possible
  • Determine if you are hungry or eating due to an emotions (bored, stressed, upset ) Mindfulness strategies and meditation can help with emotional eating
  • Ensure you get enough sleep- a lack of sleep affects the hormones that control appetite which can cause you to eat more throughout the day
  • Include protein rich foods in your diet as these keep you feeling fuller for longer – aim for a minimum of 50g protein daily
  • Snacking at night when tired and in front of the television can be a huge weakness for many. Be mindful of this.

Healthy snack ideas

When trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, try to stick to snacks that are roughly around 100 calories. It is important to consider the nutritional quality of the foods not just the overall calories – choosing foods rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre, protein and healthy fats can contribute positively to our overall health. Some suitable healthy snack ideas have been listed below:

  • Vegetable sticks with hummus        
  • Apple slices and peanut butter                  
  • Yoghurt and berries
  • Cooked seasoned chickpeas                    
  • Mixed Nuts                                     
  • Avocado on multigrain crackers
  • Edamame beans                        
  • Oat and date energy bites                                   
  • Olives  

Snacks to limit:  

Ultra-processed foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar including chocolate, biscuits, crisps, cakes and sweets should be avoided where possible, however if consumed they should be in small portions and not too often. Consuming too many of these foods will affect your weight loss and won't give you the results you are expecting.

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