If there’s one time where people find it the hardest to eat healthy, it’s snack time. When I say “snack” most people think of vending machine staples like crisps and chocolate. Even those who make an effort to cook healthy meals at home will often have an afternoon biscuit habit, or be unable to resist the office doughnuts. Not only are these foods high in fat, sugar and salt, most are going to give a quick sugar rush followed by a crash soon after. Plus buying junk food on the fly can quickly add up. Rather than swearing off eating between meals, accept the afternoon slump is a real thing and plan for it. And the cheapest and healthiest option is to make your own snacks.
Planning regular snacks so you never go move than 4 hours without eating can really help with energy levels. Of course, quality counts. Many snack foods such as crisps, chocolate, biscuits and granola bars are high in fat and simple sugars, which are broken down quickly, leading to large blood sugar spikes. Large blood sugar spikes cause the pancreas to release large amounts of insulin in response. This in turn clears the sugar from the blood quickly, leading to a sugar “crash”. Leaving you feeling tired, brain fogged and moody.
The best way to avoid sugar highs and lows is to eat your carbohydrates with some protein, healthy fats and fibre, all of which slow down digestion. That way the energy is slowly released over several hours, giving you a more constant supply. More balanced snacks will also keep you feeling full for longer, and can help you get your five portions of fruit and veg a day. It can be hard to find all this in a single food, but making your own snacks allows you to pair foods to get the balance right. Some healthy options include:
- Fresh or dried fruit with a small handful of nuts (raw not salted)
- Oatcakes with hummus or peanut butter
- Plain yoghurt with added fresh fruit and a sprinkle of seeds
- Carrot and celery sticks with hummus
- Homemade flapjacks or muffins (check out my muffin recipe here)
Making your own snacks is much cheaper too. You could consider the increasingly popular healthy energy bars (or flapjacks). Just remember to check the label for the amount of sugar and fat. In many natural bars the main ingredient is nuts, which are high in fat (and calories) and dates, which are high in sugar. They may also contain a variety of “natural” sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup. I’ve seen bars with 25g of carbohydrates where 21g of these are from sugars! The other problem with these bars is the cost. A pack of Trek Protein flapjacks costs £2.50 at the grocery store, and individual bars sold in shops can be £2.00 each!
Once again, planning and preparation is key for both healthy and low-cost eating!
If you are enjoying this blog, don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.