How healthy are your snacking choices? Nutritionist Lowri Turner investigates snacking …
“The body is built to be able to withstand periods without food pretty successfully. Much of the snacking we do is about emotions, not hunger. Stress is a major trigger as we reach for chocolate, cake or biscuits to comfort ourselves,” says nutritionist Lowri Turner who has been investigating common snacking choices.
However, some of the snacks that people reach for to try to fulfil the craving whilst keeping a clear conscience, such as cereal bars and smoothies, may not be as healthy as we think.
Lowri has looked at the nutritional content of some of these choices. “We all want to get our five-a-day, but while it may be tempting to take a short cut and drink a smoothie, instead of eating the whole fruit, this can play havoc with your blood sugar. Eat a whole piece of fruit like a Pink Lady apple and the naturally-occurring fruit sugars enter your blood slowly, giving you sustained energy. Once any fruit has been processed into a juice or smoothie, it creates a fast sugar rush that can be followed by a crash. This can affect your energy, your mood, and set you up for sugar cravings later in the day.
“Cereal bars are also marketed as a natural, healthy snack. However, they can be high in sugar. Jordan’s Wild Berries Frusli cereal bar has as stonking 21g of sugar, that’s the same as eating half a jam doughnut!”
When compared to a fruit snack like an apple, cereal bars can have over twice the number of calories and a mango and passion fruit innocent smoothie has almost 3 times as many. And for those who enjoy a regular pick-me-up chocolate bar, switching to a Pink Lady apple three times a week can give the same sweet kick but save over 800 calories (which is almost a pound of fat in just a month)!
“Many of us crave something sweet when we’re feeling bored or tired or a bit stressed. Rather than going for chocolate or a cake, I advise my nutrition clients to get a hit of natural fruit sugar to lift their mood with a Pink Lady apple,” says Lowri.
“An apple is a great choice as its portable so you can always have one to hand. Successful snacking is also slow snacking. It takes 20 minutes for your body to trigger hormones to tell your brain you’re full. This is why you can gulp down a chocolate bar and still feel hungry. You have to chew each bite of an apple so your body and brain has time to get that satisfied feeling. I particularly recommend Pink Ladies because their natural sweetness also helps to kick that sugar craving”.
Lowri’s 5 top tips for snacking:
1. Swap a bar of chocolate for a Pink Lady apple just three times a week and you could save over 800 calories each week*. Add that up over a month and you could lose almost a pound of fat.
2. Many people crave sweet things in the evening. This is partly about the brain needing sugar to raise the happy hormone serotonin which is important for sleep. If you’re a night-time snacker, have a piece of fruit before bed. It will satisfy your sugar craving and help you sleep.
3. Healthy snacking is not just about looking after yourself. If you have kids, it’s also about setting an example to them too. At home time, rather than handing out biscuits or taking a trip to the sweet shop, hand out Pink Lady apples. Kids love the bright pink colour and the sweet taste and if you all eat them together you’re giving them a lesson in healthy eating too.
4. Successful snacking is slow snacking. It takes 20 minutes for your body to trigger hormones to tell your brain you’re full. This is why you can inhale a chocolate bar and still feel hungry. Eating a fresh and crisp apple takes longer. You have to chew each bite, so your body and brain has time to get that satisfied feeling. Plus, the act of chewing triggers the release of specific hormones that switch your appetite off.
5. The body is built to be able to withstand periods without food pretty successfully. Much of the snacking we do is about emotions, not hunger. Stress is a major trigger as we reach for chocolate, cake or biscuits to comfort ourselves. You can short circuit this automatic response by always carrying a Pink Lady apple with you. Then you have something sweet and healthy to grab in a weak moment.
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