Snacking often gets a bad rap because it’s commonly associated with all day grazing and a trip to the vending machine.
However, the right kind of snacks can enhance our diet, help support energy, mood and concentration. This in turn allows us to break through the common afternoon slump.
If you are tired of feeling flat and hungry in the afternoons, especially during the cooler months, and think your snack choice may be to blame, here are some tips to help improve your snack game.
First up, avoid caffeine on an empty stomach – this can wreak havoc with blood sugar and despite giving an instant boost to energy and concentration, a crash is likely to follow.
If you must have your 3pm coffee, have it alongside some food containing protein and fat (like a a handful of raw nuts, boiled egg, hummus with seed crackers or can of salmon) to help stabilise blood sugar.
The same goes for snacks rich in refined sugar, like some muesli bars, biscuits, cakes and flavoured yoghurts. The sugar will provide an initial boost of energy but it won’t sustain your energy through the afternoon, so these are best avoided.
The most health-promoting snacks will contain a source of good quality carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats…and veggies are also an added bonus if you can fit it in!
Carbohydrates help to provide a sustained release of energy, provide us with b-vitamins, which aid energy production in the body and helps the body utilise amino acids which in turn can positively impact mood.
Side note – here’s a helpful rundown of what you can and can’t keep in the freezer. Post continues after video.
Protein is key in supporting appetite, slowing the release of sugars into the blood stream and providing us with amino acids to make neurotransmitters from.
Healthy fats also help to increase satiety and satisfaction from foods and support mood.
If you’re unsure which foods fit under each category, here are some good options:
Brown rice, quinoa, barley, buckwheat, fruit (banana, pear, apple etc), wholegrain crackers, sourdough/seeded bread, baked goods made from wholegrain flours (buckwheat, rye, quinoa, wholemeal etc), oats and root vegetables.
Eggs, tofu, legumes (also contain some carbs), dairy (yoghurt, cheese, milk), fish, nuts/seeds (also a fat), meat – chicken, turkey, lamb, beef etc.
Avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts/seeds including hemp and chia seeds, tahini, nut butter, coconut.
If your usual snacks just aren’t cutting it since the weather has cooled down, I recommend giving roasted chickpeas a go! Simply combine with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, spices of choice (I like turmeric, cumin and paprika), salt and pepper and roast in the oven at 180C tossing every 10-15min until crispy. Store in an airtight container for a few days….provided they last that long. Yum!
When putting the above together, a few afternoon snack ideas for the cooler months include:
- Natural yoghurt, warm homemade fruit compote and nuts/seeds
- Hummus with wholegrain crackers and vegetable sticks
- Slice of toast with hummus, tomato, avocado and nuts/seeds
- Warmed up mini roast vegetable and salmon/feta frittata
- Savoury muffin made using wholegrain flour, feta, roast vegetables, nuts/seeds
- Small bowl of vegetable and legume soup topped with pumpkin seeds or flaked coconut
- Packet of roasted chickpeas + optional piece of fruit
- Homemade oat, nut/seed and fruit slice or banana bread with nut butter or ricotta
Finally, if you don’t drink much water during the day, use your afternoon snack time as a reminder to hydrate.
After all, dehydration is often mistaken for hunger and negatively impacts concentration and focus.
For more healthy recipes and healthy living tips, purchase your own copy of Zoe’s Falling in Love with Food here.