People are skeptical when advised to eat healthy snacks during the diet. The problem is that we healthy snacking as taking in more calories and not as a way to nourish your body.
So, often it happens you indulge in a snack anytime between your meals and end up feeling guilty afterward. There is no need to feel guilty because when done correctly, snacking has its perks.
This being said, we are talking about snacks that are healthy for you and not the unhealthy junk like chips, corn puffs or cookies which are laden with refined flour (Maida), sugar and fat.
Healthy Snacking and Energy
You may have experienced it, feeling tired and sleepy while at work or in a class, especially around midday or late in the evening. These are the signs that your body is working on low energy, and needs a refill.
What do you do when your phone shows a low battery warning? Charge it immediately, right? Similarly, we need to recharge our bodies too, and quick, nutritious snacks are what you need.
It is paramount that you choose snacks that are healthy for you. You will experience an energy spike on eating unhealthy snacks like chips or energy drinks too, but this burst of energy is short-lived, leaving you drained and tired just like before.
So, when down, recharge yourself with good nutrition. Choose healthy snack alternatives to chips and energy drinks. Natural and wholesome foods like fruits, roasted chickpeas, fox nuts, popcorn, dried fruits, yogurt, cheese, etc. are snacks that are healthy for you when in need of quick healthy energy.
Healthy Snacking and Mood Swings
Low energy and blood sugar levels have a direct impact on your mood, making you cranky, irritable and stressed. Your ability to concentrate and focus declines affecting your performance at work or school.
Under stress and pressure, people look for comfort through food and fall prey to unhealthy snacks like chips, fries, candy bars, chocolates, etc. Some of us even douse several cups of tea or coffee to combat pressures.
However, what your body needs is good nutrition. Wholesome and nutritious snacks, rich in omega-3 like olives, nuts, and seed mixes are way better when it comes to boosting your mood and battling stress.
Healthy Snacking and Diabetes
A long gap between meals adversely affects our blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels begin to drop 3-4 hours after a meal. A low blood sugar level is as detrimental as a high blood sugar level in people with diabetes. It leads to hypoglycemia, which can be very fatal.
Everyone should be attentive to their blood sugar levels as a sudden spike or drop in blood sugar levels gravely affects the body, leading to insulin resistance, PCOS, type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and heart diseases.
Healthy Snacking and Nourishment
We should start looking at food as our ultimate fuel and not just as a means to pamper our taste buds. When it comes to our bikes and cars we try to provide the best type of fuel but when it comes to our body, we don’t mind eating unhealthy junk food.
Our body needs several nutrients to work efficiently like proteins, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats. Healthy snacking ensures that you get all essential nutrients without adding to your weight or spiking your blood sugar levels.
Eating small, frequent meals (i.e. three square meals and snacks once or twice in between) allows you to add foods from different food groups. Diversify your diet and add snacks that are healthy for you, like popcorn, roasted chickpeas, nuts, dried fruits so that you don’t miss out on any nutrients.
Healthy Snacking and Weight Loss
Several studies show that healthy snacking helps you lose weight.
Aren’t we supposed to eat less to lose weight?
True, you need to cut down your calories to shed off the extra kilos and snacking helps you do just that. Healthy snacking works in 3 ways to promote weight loss:-
- Curbs cravings
- Helps to control portion size
- Speeds up metabolism
Cravings are one thing that messes up with your weight loss diet plans. Eating healthy snacks at regular intervals reduces the cravings for unhealthy junk, sugary and fried food. At the same time, it keeps you full, helping you to cut down your portion size, stopping you from overeating.
Going hungry for more than 4-5 hours can send your body into famine mode wherein your metabolism slows down. If you are trying to lose weight, slow metabolism is the last thing you want. Eating healthy snacks during diet revs up your metabolism so that you can beat the weight the right way.
Choosing a Healthy Snack
Snacking is extremely healthy and adopting this habit will help you go miles on the road to health and wellness. The critical part is to choose snacks that are healthy for you so that it contributes to your health and not jeopardize it.
Our markets are full of unhealthy junk and processed foods. If you are snacking on these unhealthy snacks then you are in for trouble. Several products and brands claim to be ‘healthy ‘and touted as the best snacks to eat on a diet. Just flip them over and check their nutritional label, you will be shocked!
Nielsen Global Survey of Snacking states that 67% of Indians replace their breakfast with a snack and 56% are consuming snacks instead of lunch and dinner. This necessitates that the snacks we choose are healthy.
The trick is to screen through the flimflam and see the product for what it truly is. Reading the nutritional label is one thing that helps you validate the authenticity of a snack. Here are a few pointers to help you select snacks that are healthy for you.
The total calories a snack provides is a prime deciding factor. A snack is not a complete meal but a mini-meal so, it should be low in calories.
Ideally, a snack should provide 100-150 calories; anything beyond that doesn’t fall under the category of a healthy snack.
Whether it is a snack for weight loss or a snack to power-up your workout, a healthy snack for kids for school or a simple tea-time bite, a small amount of protein is a good bargain.
Proteins are needed to boost metabolism, strengthen muscles, and build immunity. however, the Indian vegetarian diet is largely missing in proteins. Snacks with protein like yogurt, nuts, roasted chickpeas, and seed mixes are a few snacks that are healthy for you.
Both the type and amount of carbohydrates are critical to the health quotient of your snack. Snacks that are high in total sugars should be avoided. Screen your snacks for any refined sources of carbohydrates as they are the bad carbohydrates you need to watch out for.
Beware of snacks that claim to be healthy and yet have ‘added sugar’ in them. However, snacks with carbohydrates from natural sources are safe and healthy.
Firstly, not all fat is bad. Our body needs fat to work efficiently. look for the good MUFA and healthy omega in your snacks but be cautious of the saturated fat. The total calories from fat is also an essential criterion to screen for while selecting a healthy snack.
Whatsoever, ‘No Trans Fat’ is the rule you should stick to. All snacks available in the market are advertised to be free of trans-fat but they aren’t. Trans-fat in packaged snack food is often masked as hydrogenated vegetable oil. Therefore, check the food label and ingredient list before buying any snack or packaged food.
We love fiber, and we want fiber in our snacks. Why? Because fiber is everything you need to be healthy in the current scenario.
Fiber has been proven to be beneficial against heart diseases, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and digestive disorders. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, dietary fiber protects against cancer, especially colorectal cancer, as well as several other chronic diseases.
An average adult needs 20-25g of fiber per day. If you are looking for the best snacks to eat on a diet, a snack with 3-5gm of fiber is the one for you. Snacks like roasted chickpeas, dried fruits, seed mixes, and nuts are a few snacks that are healthy for you.
In the end, you are what you eat. Making healthy food choices will reflect on your physical, mental and emotional well-being. It is simple, if you eat crappy food, you will feel crappy whereas eating healthy snacks keeps you fit and happy.
A healthy decision
In an official circular passed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, on June 19th, mandates that the ‘biscuits served with tea, in all official and departmental meetings should be replaced by healthy snacks like roasted chickpeas, almonds, and dates.
This remarkable decision calls for applause. This step towards a healthier lifestyle makes a profound statement on the importance of healthy snacking.