Guest Post by Allyson Connors, Dietetic Intern
One of Vincci’s 4 Foundations of Healthy Eating is to eat every 3-5 hours. Eating regularly can help control your blood sugars and energy levels by providing your body with a more consistent stream of carbohydrates (our bodies’ preferred source of energy) and other nutrients throughout the day. You might find that your breakfast, lunch and dinner are timed in a way that you are eating every 4-5 hours and feel satisfied in between. Otherwise, you might find that adding some snacks, or having smaller “mini meals” is what works best for your body in terms of energy and satiety.
You may have heard that eating more regularly helps to “stoke the fire” and boost your metabolism, but that is a myth. While you might see a teeny increase in metabolism, the real benefit to snacking is hunger control.
Think about the last time you were really hungry, (or hangry, as some would say.) We have all had those moments where hunger seems unbearable and we grab at the closet and easiest thing possible, which is often that cookie sitting in the jar or on the kitchen counter, not the vegetables that need to be washed and peeled in the fridge.
Although hunger is a natural cue from the body that it is time to eat, being over-hungry can lead to cravings, impulse decisions on what to eat, and over-eating. Planning snacks ahead means you are making the decision beforehand, not acting on impulse.Planning snacks ahead means the decision is already made, so that you're not eating on impulse. Click To Tweet
Snacks can also be a great opportunity to add foods and nutrients that might be “missing” from your diet, like fruits, vegetables and calcium-rich foods. Don’t miss out the opportunity to add extra nutrition into the day by trying to decide when you’re starving and just want something fast!
What Makes a Good Snack?
If the key to snacking is hunger control, then ask yourself – do your snacks truly satisfy, or do they leave you wanting more? It’s so easy to grab something quick, like that sugary muffin from the café, or a bag of chips or pretzels from the nearest vending machine, but they often leave us feeling hungry within minutes.
Combining a source of carbohydrates and a source of protein will make a snack with more staying power. Carbohydrate-rich foods, like vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, can provide fibre, which in combination with the protein can help you feel satisfied and delay hunger until your next meal.
A good example of this would be a snack like fruit and yogurt; the fruit would provide the source of carbohydrates and fibre, while the yogurt is providing the protein.
Foods like legumes, nuts and seeds give you the best bang for your buck, as they contain both fibre and protein. In vegetables and hummus, for example, the chickpeas in the hummus provide both fibre and protein, and you get an extra fibre (and antioxidant!) boost from the vegetables.
Is it Better to Have 5 or 6 Smaller Meals?
This is really a matter of personal preference. Everyone has different schedules and appetites. Sometimes gaps between meals can be lengthy and a small snack just won’t fend off hunger, sometimes you feel more energized eating small amounts at a time as opposed to a big meal. Whatever the case may be, there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. You may find that thinking of all your eating occasions as “mini meals” instead of meals versus snacks may change the way you decide what to eat, and might help you pack some extra nutrition into your day.
And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for…
40 Healthy & Filling Snack Ideas
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth…
- Plain Greek yogurt with frozen berries and oats sprinkled on top. Add chia, hemp, sunflower or pumpkin seeds to make this more filling
- Cottage cheese with a handful of grapes or a banana
- Plain Greek yogurt with bran cereal and raisins
- Strawberries with ricotta for dipping
- An apple with a handful of nuts
- Fruit plate with a yogurt dip (Plain Greek yogurt sweetened with brown sugar, honey or maple syrup, with a pinch of cinnamon)
- Fruit salad topped with pumpkin seeds
- ½ banana length wise, with peanut butter spread over the banana. Freeze for a frozen treat!
- Trail mix (mixed nuts and seeds, dried fruit, cereal)
- Dates stuffed with almond butter or ricotta cheese
- Cereal with milk and a banana sliced on top
- A glass of kefir with a sliced pear
- Steamed milk or a latte with a bunch of grapes
- 1 slice whole grain toast with peanut butter and banana, to add more protein add 1/4 cup cottage cheese on top
- Boosted oatmeal: Make oats with milk and add skim milk powder, topped with frozen berries and hemp hearts
- Kale Ginger Berry Smoothie (or visit the Dairy Farmers of Canada website for more smoothie recipes)
- Homemade granola bars (Like my Apricot & Almond Granola Bars)
Try Something Savoury…
- Hummus with raw veggies (carrots, celery, zucchini, snap peas, cucumber, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, radishes, etc.)
- Whole grain crackers with cheese
- Cottage cheese with cherry tomatoes and freshly cracked black pepper
- Large bell pepper slices with hummus or cottage cheese spread on them
- Raw veggies and chili dip (mix 2 parts chili to 1 part Greek yogurt)
- Edamame beans cooked in the shell with a pinch of salt (you can buy frozen edamame beans)
- Veggie sticks with homemade tzatziki (greek yogurt, dill, garlic, lemon juice, shredded cucumber)
- Tuna salad or flavoured tuna on celery sticks or cucumber slices
- Boiled eggs with raw veggies
- Roasted Chickpeas
- Cherry tomatoes with small mozzarella balls, pinch salt and balsamic vinegar drizzled over top
- Whole grain pita with chickpeas or hummus, mixed greens or diced veggies with lemon, olive oil and pinch of salt
- Rye crackers topped with avocado and pinch salt and lemon or lime juice
- Tuna salad (tuna, greek yogurt, celery, pickles) or egg salad on whole grain toast or crackers
- Mini salad with boiled egg or chickpeas
- Canned bean salad
A Little Bit of Both…
- Celery stalks (cut in half or thirds) spread with peanut butter (add a few raisins to make ants on a log)
- Cheese and grapes or figs
- Apple with peanut butter or cheese
- Boiled eggs with a pear
- Whole grain crackers, apple and cheese slices
- Mini charcuterie board: small amount of meat, or boiled egg, cheese, dried figs or dates, apple, cucumber slices and whole wheat pita or crackers