food

A dietician shares the best healthy snacks that will actually fill you up.

Let’s be honest – eating healthy in summer can be seriously hard work.

There’s Christmas, New Years and a dozen wine-fuelled celebrations and parties to attend in between.

But with loads of fresh fruit and vegetables available at this time of year, it’s not hard to incorporate some healthy snacks into the mix.

Although snacking often gets a bad rap with some people concerned about overeating or stacking up on “empty calories”, Accrediting Practising Dietitian Rachel Scoular says that snacking comes with loads of positives.

“Eating smaller, more frequent meals allows you to spread your total calories out over the day, helping to stabilise your appetite, boost nutrient intake and be a craving controller,” Rachel told Mamamia.

healthy snack ideas
Summer is the best time of year to load up on fruit and veggies. Image: Getty.

What makes a snack healthy?

The right kind of snacks can help support energy and mood and enhance our diet too.

But on the other hand, the wrong kind of snacks can leave you feeling flat or even wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels.

Rachel, the founder of @healthyhappyhabits, explained a foolproof way to make sure you're selecting snacks that are good for you.

"The best way to look at snacking is to think about nutrients or food groups that you might be missing out on," she said.

"For example, many women struggle to reach the recommended 2.5 serves of dairy a day while lots of Australians also struggle to reach the recommended two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables – which are all great healthy snack options," she explained.

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"Make the most of your snack and choose something sensible that will tie you over until the next meal."

Side note – as a parent, what can you do if your parents or in-laws refuse to stop feeding your kids unhealthy food? We speak to Butterfly Foundation Founder, Christine Morgan.

When it comes to finding healthy snacks that'll actually leave you feeling full and satisfied, Rachel says it's important to look for a good combination of carbohydrates and protein.

While it's easy to reach for generic, heavily processed 'snack foods' like a biscuit or a muffin, these types of snacks are often high in carbohydrates and low in nutrition, which means it won't be long before you're reaching into the pantry again.

Rachel recommends steering clear of these processed snack foods and "saving them for more special occasions".

"In replacement [of heavily processed snack foods], the best choice is a combo of slowly digested carbohydrates, paired with high protein foods," Rachel explained.

"These foods are low GI, meaning they will be digested more slowly by the body.

"As a result, you're left feeling fuller for longer and it's great for weight control and stabilising blood glucose levels."

Don't use the microwave when reheating these five foods. Post continues below...

But what about my afternoon sugar cravings?

Many of us struggle with late afternoon sugar cravings, leading us to make some not-so-healthy choices when it comes to snacking.

Although it's easy to reach for snacks high in refined sugar, like some muesli bars, biscuits and cakes, the sugar included in these products won't sustain your energy throughout the entire afternoon.

In fact, if you reach for a snack high in refined sugar, you're more likely to experience a crash in your energy levels later in the day.

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But fear not – sugar is definitely not off limits when it comes to snacking.

"If you're craving some sugar, you can have some sugar, it's not off limits," Rachel told Mamamia.

"I'd recommend you start with a serve of fruit – yes, fruit does contain naturally occurring sugars in the form of fructose, but it also contains fibres and essential vitamins and minerals," Rachel explained.

"Other options could be a tub of yoghurt (either YoPro or Chobani) or a skim milk coffee. Dairy foods are high in protein and the body takes longer to break down protein and digest it, so it's a great option for you to fill up between meals."

Healthy snack ideas

The most health-promoting snack foods contain a source of good quality carbohydrates, healthy fats and lean protein.

Fruit and vegetables are also an added bonus to add to your daily snacks to help up your daily fruit and veg intake.

healthy snack ideas
Wholegrain crackers and hummus make for an easy, healthy afternoon snack. Image: Getty.

When combining carbohydrates and protein, Rachel suggested the following snack ideas for the warmer months:

  • Wholegrain crackers with low-fat cheese
  • Corn Thins with ricotta cheese
  • Two boiled eggs
  • One tub of yoghurt with a piece of fruit
  • Tzatziki dip with crispbread
  • One slice of low-fat cheese on seedy toast
  • A small handful of roasted nuts
  • Natural peanut butter and a banana
  • Hummus and wholegrain crackers

Well, there you have it.

Happy snacking!

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