When it comes to eating healthy, you know what your daily diet should look like. But do you know what your snack should look like when you want to achieve the same goals? With all the focus on the main meals, snacking often goes unnoticed or unchecked. According to research, 25% of your daily calories now come from snacking, which makes it an integral part of our diet plan. When it comes to snacking, most of us face two scenarios – either we save calories in meals and then overspend them in snacking or we totally refrain from snacking, feel hungrier and as a result, overindulge at the mealtime. Both scenarios highlight the role of snacking in weight management. Snacks are multifunctional as they can fill nutrition gaps as well as satisfy biting hunger that leads to overeating. With some easy tweaks in your snacking habits, you can bring big results in your overall fitness.
We suggest, before you fix your diet, assess your snacking habits! Ask yourself – Is it adding to your waistline and hurting your health or does it bring nutrition benefits and make you feel more energized than sluggish? This will also help you see ‘snacking’ in a different light. The difference between an unhealthy and healthy snack makes a huge impact on our overall health. While an unhealthy snack can derail even the strongest of the meal plans, a healthy one plays a key role in fine-tuning your entire food behavior. Next, you should look at other aspects of snacking such as ‘type’ of snack (fresh or packaged) and ‘timing’ of snacking (during the day or late at night). When you fix these two, you empower yourself with positive food behavior.
Once you switch to healthy snacking, your food choices automatically improve altogether. Snacking can be an excellent way to increase energy and nutrient intake when approached with the right mindset. Picking a healthy snack like fruit, some nuts, or something made of fresh ingredients is far easier and healthier than you think. It can help improve hydration status, boost performance, and reduce hunger (motivating better choices at mealtime). All you need to do is add little ‘mindfulness’ to your snacking and reap big benefits.
To help you achieve this, we bring you 5 Principles of Healthy Snacking, which will make snacking a good way to ensure good health & nutrition: `
Principle 1. Think high volume, fewer calories
When it comes to healthy snacking, size does matter. By size, we don’t mean a bigger portion. Instead, it implies a higher volume. Put simply, a high volume snack is one in which the amount of food outweighs the calorie density. Typically, the more fiber, protein, and water a good snack contain, the higher its volume is in relation to its calories. For example, there are 240 calories in an average burger. It is high in calories, low in nutrients, and takes longer to digest. On the other hand, jhal muri is a zero-calorie snack, which gives you more satiety than a burger. So, if you are looking for a snack to satisfy your hunger, go for the one that scores a hundred on fiber, protein & water, and zero on calories.
⮚ Jhal muri
⮚ Grilled vegetables
⮚ A bowl of watermelon
⮚ Vegetable soups
Principle 2. There is a ‘right time’ to have a snack
We are snacking throughout the day. Whether we are watching TV, socializing, cooking in the kitchen or working on an important presentation, snacking goes on as smoothly as the background music in a movie. Yes, we agree that it is tough to control your sweet and salty cravings all the time, but you can always try and have them at a better time than late-night kitchen raids. Morning is the perfect time to satisfy your sweet cravings and evenings are good to indulge in some salted fun. Again, the key is to draw a line between healthy and unhealthy options. Most importantly, do not overindulge. The mid-morning and mid-evening snacks also prevent you from overeating during lunch and dinner.
⮚ Sweet Cravings: Makhana Kheer, Lauki Kheer, Banana, Fig, Raisins, and Jaggery.
⮚ Salt Cravings: Paneer Besan Cheela, Vegetable uttapam, Vegetable jhal muri, buttermilk plus flax seeds, and hummus with carrots.
Principle 3. Keeping the snack in sync with your emotions.
Snacking takes on different meanings & purposes throughout the day. A big, fat snack feels like your ‘fundamental right’ after a draining day at work or a tiring game of sport. It looks like an indulgence when socializing or watching TV. It becomes a good distraction at work or when you are feeling stressed or upset. There is a close connection between the timing of snacking and our mood. Whether we are happy, stressed, or sad, we seek comfort snacking. While it is not always possible to reign in your emotions, you can switch to a healthy snack to scoop yourself out of these tricky situations. Focus on nutrient-rich, whole-food snacks.
Principle 4. Go fresh and nutrient-wise.
Who says a snack must come out of a packet? Snacking on packaged foods is the unhealthiest. Packaged snacks are loaded with sugar and salt, and can make any diet plan go haywire. A banana is a better snacking option than a pack of French Fries. It is more satisfying, nutritious and gives you heaps of energy without adding numbers on the weighing scale. So next time you feel hungry and want to have a snack, don’t reach out for a packet. Try out traditional Indian foods for some super satisfying snack-time. You can try these:
⮚ Dahi Chaat
⮚ Lemon water or Sattu instead packaged juices
⮚ Carrot coconut stuffed Khandvi
Principle 5. Snack is not a substitute for main meals
Snacks provide quick, convenient mini-meal options for meal skippers. The breakfast is often swapped for a quick coffee and a grilled sandwich or the lunch is sacrificed for fried, high-fat snacks and sweet treats in the evening. Snacks are a good grab & go option but they aren’t good enough to replace your main-meals. In fact, healthy snacking can help you control your overeating at meals. If you have been trying to downsize your big meals for a long time, snacking can show you the way. Think of high protein, fiber-rich, and hydrating snacks, which also help lift mood by boosting a brain chemical called serotonin. The healthy mid-meal snacking also helps maintain blood sugar levels, control mood swings, improve metabolism, and increase mental alertness & concentration.
⮚ One cup of dahi or 1 bowl of Papaya/Watermelon
⮚ Sweet potato chaat,
⮚ Paneer Kebabs,
⮚ Vegetable Idli with coconut chutneys
⮚ Handful of soaked nuts and seeds
For more healthy snack ideas, check out our recipe section