What do you do when the 3pm energy slump hits? Do you grab a biscuit from the office stash or ignore the slump and hope it passes? For me if I don't make the effort to have a small snack at this time I get very hangry and snap at everyone around me.
Before I have my snack I make sure to have a glass of water, just to make sure I’m genuinely hungry. Of course, you don’t need to snack - for some people 3 meals a day is plenty. On the other hand if you are snacking more than 3 times a day you might want to check that you are eating enough, and the right mix at your main meals. Your aim is to have a snack that’s filling, satisfies your hunger and doesn’t leave you hungry again in less than an hour, but you don’t want it so big that it is going to spoil your next meal.
Ideally you should choose snacks that help you top up the main food groups that you know you don’t eat enough of. For most people this would mean including some veggies in their snack because most people don’t eat their 5 serves of veggies each day. Another common food group needing to be topped up is dairy (or calcium fortified alternatives). If you eat grains (eg cereal, bread, rice) with most meals then it can be a good idea to choose a snack that isn’t grain based.
Here are some ideas I like:
- Small tin of tuna, ideally paired with some veggies like cherry tomatoes, cucumber
- Corn thins (preferably multigrain) with ricotta or cottage cheese, sliced tomato and salt and pepper. Steer clear of rice crackers they have high GI and a stack of carbs (10 rice crackers have the carbs of 2 slices of bread) and you just can't stop eating them
- Humous and vegies, I like the pilpel hummous from Coles or Woolies as it's made with olive oil rather than canola. We all need to eat more veggies and including some in your snack means you are far more likely to meet your target of 5 serves a day
- Instead of potato chips, try some homemade roasted chickpeas - drain, rinse and pat dry a tin of chickpeas, toss with a mix of cumin, ground coriander, paprika, some chilli flakes, sea salt and 1 tablespoon of EVOO and roast at 220°C for about 20 minutes. You can also buy roasted chick peas and fava beans as a snack in the health food section at the supermarket
- A small pack of nuts. I love snacking on nuts but have to watch my portion size as they are easy to over eat. I usually buy the little premade boxes that are about 30g each. I love to mix my nuts with some berries. If you have high cholesterol, nuts are a great snack as they deliver heart-smart nutrients like monounsaturated fat, fibre, magnesium and vitamin E.
- a small full fat coffee can make a great snack, or a small hot chocolate made with cocoa (I like the one by the healthy chef) and sweetened with a little honey.
- yoghurt – I’m a big fan of yopro. I usually top it with some extra berries and a tablespoon of homemade granola
- sliced apple with 100% nut butter, or a sliced peach with cottage chees
- a hardboiled egg, you can roll it in dukkah to make it fancy
- a small nut bar. If you are picking up something in a package like a nut bar or a protein ball aim for one that is less than 600 kj (150 cals), has more than 6g of protein, less than 10g of sugar per serve and ideally contains more than 3.5g of fibre.
Are you confused about what to eat? Let me help you.
Struggling with breakfast? Here are some ideas
Need some lunch inspiration? I've written about 5 easy office lunches here.
Any other great snack ideas? Let me know!
Rachel is a university qualified Clinical Nutritionist based in Balmain. She is also the busy working mum of two teenagers, so is practical and realistic with her advice . Rachel offers private consultations to improve your family's health and well-being. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram for more healthy tips and tricks.