We all know how tempting it is to reach for a bar of chocolate at work when that pesky 3 pm slump hits. Equally, it’s easy to over-indulge in an extra packet of crisps or a few more scoops of ice cream at home in the evenings. While difficult, it’s not impossible to break these habits for good. Here, we have gathered some useful tips and healthy snack ideas to help you beat the munchies when they strike!
Healthy Snack Swaps for Sugar
Sugar can be addictive as it gives you an instant energy boost – that’s why we tend to crave sugary snacks when we’re feeling tired. However, this energy boost doesn’t tend to last very long and it can leave us feeling more tired once it wears off.
Sugary snacks cause the pancreas to secrete insulin which in turn, tells your body to pull sugar out of your bloodstream. Since your brain needs that sugar, you will probably want to eat more. However, this type of behaviour could lead to type 2 diabetes.
Eating fresh fruit can be a good substitute for sugary snacks. Try eating natural yoghurt with a few of your favourite fruits to ensure you’re eating healthily whilst also satisfying your sugar cravings.
If you find that you’re reaching for sugar-heavy snacks when you’re feeling tired, try some protein-rich snacks instead. Protein is a great source of slow-release energy as our bodies take longer to digest it. This means you will get a long-lasting energy boost and you’ll feel full for longer.
Nuts and seeds are a wonderful source of protein so why not sprinkle some over your fresh fruit and yoghurt?
Healthy Snack Swaps for Chocolate Bars
Many of us are self-professed chocoholics and so, it can be tricky to cut down on Dairymilks and opt for a healthier snack instead. However, you don’t necessarily need to give up chocolate altogether. Try opting for dark chocolate where possible. Dark chocolate (the higher the cocoa solid percentage the better!) has less sugar than milk or white chocolate and has far more nutritional value.
If you’re not a fan of dark chocolate, all is not lost. Try making hot chocolate at home with plant milk (packed with protein) or low-fat cow’s milk. Alternatively, you could try making a protein smoothie using chocolate-flavoured protein powder. Similarly, you could try making energy balls with cocoa powder. That way you still get the chocolate flavour but with an added protein boost! Check out our Instagram and Facebook for our favourite healthy recipes.
Healthy Snack Swaps for Salt
Salt is a major ingredient in processed foods and fast foods. Without being aware of it, you can become addicted to salt. However, it is something to watch as high salt intake makes you more susceptible to heart attacks, stroke, dementia and kidney disease.
If cutting out salty foods completely is too difficult, try mixing salty snacks, like nuts, with unsalted snacks. Alternatively, if crisps are your kryptonite, try swapping potato chips for baked vegetable crisps. They’re super easy to make at home and they’re infinitely more delicious.
Managing Emotional Eating
We all have certain comfort foods that we crave after having a particularly hard day at the office – that’s completely normal. However, when we’re going through a tough time, it can be quite easy to lean into comfort-eating a little too much and it can be detrimental to our mental and physical health. For instance, for many people carbs = comfort. While carbohydrates are an essential part of a balanced diet, too many carbohydrates can leave us feeling tired and sluggish – this isn’t going to help if you’re already feeling low!
Everyone has emotional triggers that send them running to their favourite comfort foods and it’s essential that you identify these triggers to help break the unhealthy eating cycle. Once you have identified these triggers, it can be helpful to spend some time investing in your emotional wellbeing. Is there anything else that you can do to help make yourself feel better, besides indulging in unhealthy foods?
Finding outlets to increase your emotional wellness may help you feel more balanced and less likely to reach for the crisps. Yoga, for instance, is very easy to do at home or in a class and it encourages both inner and outer health. Additionally, practising mindfulness can help reduce stress and anxiety. This can help reduce the need for comfort eating right at the source.
Constant Snacking or “Grazing”
It’s difficult to cut back on unhealthy snacks when your cupboards are full of them. We believe in the old adage, “out of sight, out of mind”.
Smart shopping is key here. If you can’t see your favourite snacks, you’re less likely to crave them. Similarly, if you don’t have them in the house, you can’t eat them! The next time you’re doing your weekly shop, skip over the crisp/chocolate/biscuit aisles and the soft drink aisle. Instead, stock up on healthy snacks, such as unsalted nuts, veggies, and yoghurts.
If you find yourself constantly “grazing” throughout the day, it’s very likely that you’re not getting enough during meal times. Try to make sure you’re getting enough protein and try to avoid leaving long gaps between meals where possible – this increases the chances of feeling “snacky”.
If you tend to have a large gap between meals, (you might have breakfast at 7 am and lunch at 1 pm) it is wise to have some healthy snacks to hand in case hunger strikes. This will keep you going until lunchtime without spiking your blood sugar.
A Little Goes A Long Way
It really is the little things that will make a big difference in the long run. It’s always nice to cosy up with a cuppa and your favourite snacks, and with a little bit of creativity, that doesn’t need to stop. Swapping your usual unhealthy foods for more nutritious options will help you feel like you’re not missing out.
Maintaining a balanced diet is important for our overall health and for weight management. However, trying to make healthier choices can be overwhelming and the internet is full of contradictions when it comes to nutritional advice. That’s why it’s best to speak to a medical professional or nutritionist to help you form a healthy eating plan. If you need some advice, you can speak to one of our Irish-registered doctors from the comfort of your own home. Simply book an online consultation. Alternatively, you can check out our online prescription service for weight loss treatment.
If you’re following healthy eating guidelines to help manage your cholesterol levels, we can also help. Use our Cholesterol Home Test Kit to keep an eye on your cholesterol levels from home.