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Smarter snacking

Reviewed by our expert panel
Smarter snacking

Healthy Food Guide nutritionist Claire Turnbull makes healthy snacking easy.

When you get in from a busy day and are ridiculously hungry, it’s all too easy to wolf down 20 crackers and a quarter of a block of cheese, along with wine, before you have the chance to catch your breath.

The types of food that so many of us gravitate towards at this time of day make it easy to eat more kilojoules than you would normally have in a full meal. And you haven’t even started on dinner yet!

If you are someone this happens to regularly, two things can stop this habit in its tracks.

1. Commit to a healthy snack

Often people don’t have an afternoon snack because they don’t want to eat too much and feel they should wait for dinner instead. But, if three days out of five you end up demolishing a bag of chips when you get home because you’re starving, you have defeated your goal. Instead, plan to have something healthy in the afternoon. Or have something when you get home, and then have a slightly later, maybe smaller, dinner. This is better than pretending you don’t need anything, when really you do.

2. Have healthy options in reach

Make healthy options the easy choice. Have chopped up veges at the front of the fridge in a clear container. In winter, have a batch of vege soup at the ready so you can grab a mug of it.

Smart snacks

Except for the no-kilojoule drinks, these snacks add protein and fibre to help you feel full on fewer kilojoules. They’re also low in saturated fat and sugars.

  • Homemade iced/herbal tea or water: 0kJ
  • 1/2 cup edamame beans: 500kJ (119cal), 10g protein, 6g fibre
  • 1 cup carrot sticks, 2 slices cucumber, 2 stalks celery and 3 tablespoons hummus: 550kJ (130cal), 5g protein, 8g fibre
  • 3/4 cup plain unsweetened yoghurt, 3 tablespoons frozen berries, 1 tablespoon muesli: 540kJ (130cal), 10g protein, 2.5g fibre
  • 4 Vita-Weat 9-Grain crackers and 4 tablespoons cottage cheese: 670kJ (160cal), 12g protein, 3g fibre
  • Green smoothie with 1/4 cup spinach, 1/2 banana and 1 cup trim milk: 610kJ (147cal), 10g protein, 1g fibre

Snack traps

These snacks are higher in kilojoules, with the energy coming from fat, added sugars or alcohol, and most are low in protein and fibre.

  • 3 Original Tim Tams: 1230kJ (295cal), 14g fat (8g sat), 28g sugars
  • 2 x 150ml glasses red wine: 1010kJ (242cal). Yes, there are sugars in here, but it’s the alcohol that really adds the kilojoules
  • 45g (1/3 135g pack) kumara chips: 940kJ (224cal), 15g fat (1.5g sat)
  • 10 rice crackers with 40g cheddar cheese: 990kJ (235cal), 14g fat (9g sat). Although there’s no fibre here there is 11g protein. Halve the serve for half the kilojoules and 5.5g protein.
First published: Nov 2017

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