After the indulgences of Christmas, your belly soon wonders where all that food’s gone and why you’ve suddenly swapped Christmas cake for carrot sticks.
By February, your resolve to eat healthier this year is probably already waning as your tummy rumbles between meals.
But instead of giving in and reaching for the biscuits, try one of these nutritious snacks to help you over that hunger hill.
Mix up a bowl of yoghurt and tick off your daily dairy allowance while you’re at it. You can go for a low-fat or fat-free yoghurt if you’re concerned about calories, but be sure to check the sugar levels as these often sky rocket in low-fat versions.
Why it’s great: dairy products provide calcium, which is essential for strong bones and teeth, muscle performance (including heartbeat) and to ensure the blood clots normally. It’s also linked to lower blood pressure.
Serving suggestion: stir in a large spoonful of granola, nuts, fruit or unsalted sunflower seeds as energy-boosting extras.
Sweet potato fries
Many people believe that carbohydrates such as potatoes, rice and pasta are to be avoided, but you just need to switch for the healthier versions, like sweet potato, wholewheat pasta and brown rice. You could also try quinoa, which is a tasty and healthy substitute for rice.
Sweet potato fries are a great example of a healthy switch that tastes delicious.
Why it’s great: carbs are essential to keep you healthy and energised – think of them as batteries for your body. Sweet potato is low-calorie and super-rich in vitamins A and C as well as calcium, iron and potassium.
Serving suggestion: simply cut the sweet potato into chips, drizzle with a little olive oil and bake for 30-40 minutes. If you’re short on time, you can pop slices in the toaster instead and top with a poached egg and some tabasco sauce. They’re also great baked whole with a healthy topping, such as tuna and a blob of sour cream or turkey chilli for a heartier meal.
Cut fresh veggies into bite-sized pieces to make them easy to graze on – these are great as a homework snack for the kids, too. Try carrots, peppers and celery cut into little sticks, handfuls of cherry tomatoes or slices of avocado.
Why it’s great: veggies are rich in vitamins of various letters of the alphabet and this snack will help you fulfil at least one of your recommended five a day.
Serving suggestion: enjoy your nibbles with a hummus dip for a protein boost that’s rich in iron, vitamin C and fibre, too.
Savvy sandwich fillers
To avoid the desire to snack, pack in your protein at lunch by filling your sarnie with lean meats such as chicken and turkey or try tasty tuna.
Why it’s great: protein is essential for growth and body repair but it also keeps you feeling fuller for longer so you don’t have to keep stopping to refuel.
Serving suggestion: top up your sandwich with fresh salad and a light spread of low-fat mayo. If you’re cutting down on wheat, skip the bread and have a salad or switch for a light wholemeal wrap. If you don’t eat meat you can still get an easy protein boost by topping your sandwiches with almonds, low-fat cheese or a mix of sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds. For more great sandwich ideas, read our article on Lunchbox ideas the kids will love – we think these ideas are great for grown-ups too!
More snacking tips
If you’re on the go, carry a small pot of mixed unsalted nuts with you for grazing on. This satisfyingly crunchy snack is rich in healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. Almonds, cashews and pistachios are particularly good options.
We all know we should eat five fruit and veg a day, so to make this easier keep a varied and colourful bowl of easy-to-eat fruits within reach on the kitchen table or in the fridge to encourage effortless good snacking habits.
For further inspiration, see our article on Healthy snacks for all-day energy.
What’s your favourite healthy snack? Let us know in the comments section below.