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Healthy Snacking: Smart Choices for Satisfying Cravings

By Lex Barber

Healthy Snacking_ Smart Choices for Satisfying Cravings during a Busy Work Day

While undoubtedly we’d all love to be eating three well-balanced and flavorful home-cooked meals a day, modern life gets in the way and this is now considered a rare treat for many. When in employment and in an office or on-site, or travelling for business, such self-care is often easily overlooked and nutrition waylaid in favor of quick fixes and snacks; not least because if you don’t indulge in such sustenance, you don’t know when you’ll be able to eat at all.

Sure, we all know we should be doing what we can to consume the right balance of vitamins, minerals and nutrients and offset this with a healthy degree of appropriate exercise – but if you’ve got bills to pay, deadlines to meet and projects to complete, such societal-based pressures simply can’t be kept up. Those in full-time employment or with other time- and effort-consuming responsibilities often admit that their nutrition can’t be prioritized as they’d like, and with FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) brands stepping in to alleviate our hunger with a vast range of quick and easy (yet not often healthy) snack options, it’s no surprise that so many people reach for something that works to quell their appetite temporarily. But if you are busy, and hungry, what options do you have for grabbing a snack in between meals during the day? There are decently nutritional options available, and here, we cover off just a few for you to consider.

A Movement Snack

The first snack on this list isn’t really a snack, but it can certainly provide an energy boost through improved blood flow, focus enhancement and decreased joint stiffness. For those in sedentary or largely seated roles, a ‘movement snack’ is a small burst of movement or light exercise that offsets the effects of staying in one position for a prolonged period of time. Indeed a lot of food consumption by individuals in these circumstances is believed to be habitual or even out of boredom – so switching up a routine may find these people able to better resist reaching for some junk food. Furthermore, the benefits of exercise are very much proven to be cumulative, so the enhanced impact on wellbeing should improve overall health, too.

Of course, if stood in an office space or at a factory line, opportunities for what we think of as exercise may be limited (through space and facility as much as through self-consciousness!). A movement snack can instead consist of a short, brisk walk, some subtle yoga stretches or even bodyweight resistance exercises to tone muscle. These will all help to build strength and enhance cardiovascular health, and should be considered for inclusion into a daily routine even if not as a true ‘snack’ within it.

Pick wholegrains

When we discuss wholegrains and their benefits, many listening or reading the information immediately default their thinking to cereals. Now, while this may be largely true – and indeed there are a great deal of cereal-related snack products such as breakfast bars that can be healthy – there’s a lot more to this dietary group than people realize.

Wholegrains are high in fiber and release energy over a sustained period of time, making them a great snack because they can genuinely create a full feeling until the next scheduled meal. Wholegrain snacks can be picked up fairly cheaply and don’t necessarily involve eating handfuls of cereal. Instead, consider oatcakes with toppings, wholegrain chips or granola.

Go on… indulge in chocolate

Well, dark chocolate, that is. Dark chocolate can satisfy sweet cravings and is indeed chocolate but has a distinct nutritional profile that really sets it apart from its white and milk siblings. As the most cocoa-heavy of the trio, dark chocolate boasts a high antioxidant content. This provides mediation of free radicals and anti-inflammatory properties.

Although dark chocolate is an easy ‘switch’ from regular chocolate choices, selecting a bar with 70% cocoa solids or higher is the optimum option to ensure low sugar levels.

Shake it up

A snack needn’t be a food item and can be a filling drink. Artificially protein shakes are designed to prevent snacking but naturally blended drinks such as a peanut banana and smoothie or banana almond milk can have the same effect without the synthetic chemicals often included. Low-calorie yet still thick, the body feels full without having to stuff itself full of solids – and it’s considerably more professionally acceptable to enjoy a soft drink in a meeting than it is a bag of chips!

If protein-based shakes and smoothies don’t really fill the void, consider protein bars. With so many now available on the market most tastes can be catered for simply and easily.

Substitute the sugar in home baking

If there is opportunity for snacks to be baked at home, substituting the sugar with an alternative sweet ingredient can help cut back on excess consumption and avoid a sugar ‘crash’. Honey, maple syrup, applesauce, molasses and stevia can all be used with various recipes to avoid pouring in lots of sugar. When combined with fruits and wholegrains in say, a banana muffin, the result can be a delicious and nutritious homemade snack that keeps the individual fuller for longer and stops them reaching for chocolate or candy to cure their hankering for sweetness.

The pressures of modern life and full-time employment for all adult members of a household are certainly such that nutrition during the day can rarely be prioritized, however much the intention may be to do so. On top of that, with FMCG brands looking to make a quick buck and putting affordable sweet treats on eye-level shelves wherever possible, it’s no surprise that so many opt for a quick fix over well-balanced sustenance. But if you know how and know where to look, there are switches and substitutes that can be made; so, bear the info in mind and pass on those in kind – their health, and yours, will thank you for it!

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