Whether it’s the start of a new academic year or just returning to work after a summer of fun, September always makes me feel optimistic about being a more organised and productive me. I stock up on new stationary, pull out my ‘sensible’ shoes for walking around London again and (most importantly) decide which snacks I will be taking with me to keep me fuelled up during a busy day at uni.
Many of us often feel the need for a snack between meals to keep us going throughout the day, or if we are planning an exercise session. There are now lots of snack options in supermarkets and on the high street but unfortunately a lot of them can be high in saturated fat, added sugar and salt and don’t often contain many vitamins, minerals and fibre.
When choosing a snack, it is a good idea to focus on the four food groups which will give you a variety of nutrients;
- Fruit and vegetables – provide lots of vitamins and minerals and are often conveniently (and naturally) packaged for taking to work or on-the-go.
- Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other cereals – provide your body with carbohydrate to give you fuel throughout the day, and fibre if you choose wholegrain varieties.
- Meat, fish, eggs and beans – provide protein which is the most satiating macronutrient (keeps you feeling full). Most of us do eat enough protein at mealtimes, though, to meet our needs.
- Milk and dairy – provide calcium which supports normal bone and teeth health. Including a dairy based snack can help you reach the recommended target of 2-3 servings of dairy a day.
Here I have compiled a selection of healthier snack ideas that you could swap for your usual chocolate bar. (Although I believe everything should be in moderation so if you really fancy the occasional piece of chocolate or packet of crisps, go ahead.) You may also find it helpful to print out this list and stick it on the inside of your cupboard door so when the hunger pangs hit you know exactly what to rustle up for yourself.
- 1 carrot cut into batons with 1 tablespoon of hummus
- 3 celery sticks with 1 tablespoon of cottage cheese or hummus
- 30g of cheddar cheese with 7 cherry tomatoes
- handful of plain rice crackers or a rice cake
- 30g popcorn (you could add herbs or spices like cinnamon to it if you are making it yourself)
- half a bagel with 30g cheese spread
- a couple of celery sticks with a teaspoon of natural nut butter spread down the middle
- 25g of mixed unsalted nuts
- a boiled egg with a handful of spinach and a small drizzle of olive oil
- 25g baked vegetable crisps
- 1 slice of wholegrain toast spread with a tablespoon of nut butter
- a pitta bread with 2 tablespoons of salsa
- ½ avocado with a tablespoon of salsa
- A couple of plain crackers with cottage cheese
- 80g mixed berries, melon chunks, or grapes – try to look for fruit that is in season
- 1 banana, 1 apple or 1 pear
- 2 satsumas, plums or similar sized fruit
- 1 fruit yoghurt
- A handful of home-made trail mix (combine assorted nuts, seeds and raisins or dried cranberries)
- A handful of strawberries and 2 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt
- A small plain or fruit scone
- A small bowl (about 25g) of low-sugar wholegrain cereal with semi-skimmed milk
- A slice of toast with banana
- 1 apple, quartered with 1 tablespoon of nut butter spread on it
- A couple of tablespoons of Greek yoghurt drizzled with a little bit of honey
- 1 square of dark chocolate with a handful of cherries
- A handful of frozen grapes
- A frozen banana sprinkled with cinnamon
- 80g watermelon cubes sprinkled with 30g feta cheese
- A fruit and nut/seed bar (try for one with no added sugar)