Healthy snacks

 

Mixed nuts

Most of the energy and nutrients we get in our diet comes from meals but sometimes you find you need something to keep you going until the next meal. This is where a snack is needed.

Before the 1970s snacks were unheard of but that changed when chocolate manufacturers identified a gap in the market. Now there are many types of chocolate bars, crisps, snack bars etc. to tempt us in between meals. These types of snack are best eaten occasionally as they contain a lot of sugar or processed fats.

So what is a healthy snack and how do you ensure you always have one to hand?

It goes without saying snacks should be a small part of the diet. If you are relying on snacks for a lot of your nutrition, then you aren’t getting enough energy in your meals, so first of all check you are getting a good balance of each of the food groups in your meals and enough of each: carb-rich foods, protein-rich foods and veg.

If you are satisfied your meals are adequate, but you still get a little hungry in between meals and need something to keep you going, then here is my list of my common sense healthy snacks:

  1. Nuts

Nuts make an excellent snack. They contain fibre so it is difficult to overeat them and a host of nutrients such as good fats, iron, vitamin E and B-vitamins. Most supermarkets sell a re-sealable bag of mixed nuts.

  1. Dark chocolate

Sometimes a bit of a treat is needed and dark chocolate is a good choice for this. It also has some nutritious qualities with antioxidants, magnesium and theobromines amongst them.

  1. Fruit

Any kind of fruit is good but if you can get hold of it seasonal fruit is even better as it will contain more of the beneficial nutrients and more taste. At this time of year look out for raspberries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, and apricots. Fruit is a great snack to have in-between meals as the slow release sugars will help to bridge the gap until the next meal.

  1. Fruit scone

For those really hungry times I find a fruit scone is really useful to get you to the next meal. It is a kind of a cake but not too sweet or fatty. The bakery section of some supermarkets sell these singly so you can buy just one, when you need it.

  1. Plain yoghurt

Having a yoghurt is a good way to get one of your three dairy portions of the day. Fruit yoghurts contain a lot of sugar so I would recommend a plain one and just add your own fruit.

  1. Cheese and crackers

This also contributes to one of your dairy portions and can be a good substitute for a sugary snack. An ideal portion size for cheese is 50g.

The best types of snacks are as in the rest of the diet, whole foods such as fruit, cheese, yoghurt or nuts. These foods can supplement the diet with extra nutrients rather than providing so called ‘empty’ calories.

Keep these snacks to hand and you will be able to avoid more easily the temptation of milk chocolate bars, crisps and so-called ‘healthy’ snack bars.

 

Advertisements

The benefits of getting outdoors (or active) for 30 minutes a day.

Country side, UKYou may have started January with good intentions but now they have gone by the way. What’s more it is easy to find your energy levels dipping, at this time of year. The nights are longer than the days. It’s harder to motivate yourself to go out in the evenings. It’s harder to get up early in the mornings to go to the gym. You are busy at work. It seems a long time until summer. What if there was an easier solution to getting active rather than going to the gym or that Zumba class?

There is and that is to set the intention to do 30 minutes ‘activity’ per day. I myself have found massive benefit from this and I’ll explain why.

It gives you the flexibility to include chores such as ironing, cleaning the bathroom, hoovering, or washing the car, but also more focused exercises such as walking, stretching, running or going to the gym. The point is just to plan 30 minutes ‘activity’ in the day and see what happens. If you go to the gym three times a week but for the rest of the week, you don’t walk more than 100 yards, you could plan in a lunchtime walk or walk for 15 minutes to and from your place of work. If you couldn’t do that you could go for a 30 minute walk when you got home.

Only needing to do 30 minutes per day makes it far more likely that you will do it, whereas ‘going to the gym for an hour three times a week’ is more daunting. As success breeds success, starting small like this can help to make the shift from being inactive to active.

Research has found that going from no activity to moving around for as much as 20 minutes a day can have benefits to health. It gives you energy. It also has the benefit of making you feel better. It gets the blood moving around, which is good. Walking helps to clear the head and give you a different perspective. Cleaning can be very therapeutic. Ironing and hoovering may not be your favourite activities but if you see them as doing you good, then surely that makes it easier?

And what’s this got to do with good nutrition? Well, activity aids digestion of your food, which of course is part of getting good nutrition. Fresh air and sunlight also help your immune system (which is much-needed at this time of year). Sunny days have been few and far between this winter. If you can get out in the sun for 30 minutes at lunchtime this can be a great boost to your immune system, especially if it is a sunny day. Unfortunately in the UK we cannot make vitamin D from the sun until April (due to the angle of the sun’s rays) but the sun still does us good.

So don’t worry if your good exercise intentions for January have faded to nothing. Set this easier intention of 30 minutes in your day and test it to see if you feel any better. If you do, it will be easy to keep it going throughout the year and will give you the energy to make other changes, such as improved nutrition.

I hope you have found this helpful. Let me know how you get on.

 

5 Ways to Create Time For Your Health When You Feel You Don’t Have The Time

It is still November thankfully, but with Christmas just around the corner, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with the number of things you need to do at this time of year. So much so that health can seem to be a lesser priority. Food preparation needs to be quick and easy, and there may not be much time for relaxation and exercise. So what can you do to keep your healthy intentions on track?

  1. Make some goals for your health

Once you have decided you want to improve your health, energy, or lose weight the next stage is to make some goals. These may be short-term goals such as exercising twice per week, cooking a nice meal twice per week, or long-term goals such as dropping a dress size or being able to run up the stairs without feeling out of breath. Whatever your goals, it is important to give them a timescale (such as in one week, or in three months) and make them measurable (such as exercise for 45 minutes twice per week) so that you know when you have reached them.

2. Plan

Plan when you are going to do the work required to meet your goals, so each week, make some time to plan your exercise, plan your meals and your shopping list, plan your week so you have the time to cook your meals.

3. Record and reward yourself

Then mark on your calendar when you have met your goal (you may want to give yourself a gold star) and give yourself a monthly reward, such as a trip to the cinema. It is important to keep track of your progress, in any way you like, so that you can see you are making progress.

4. Make some time to eat

You may be rushing around for most of the day so breakfast and lunch could be a hurried affair, but in the evening, you may have a bit more time to slow down and relax and food can be a part of that. So twice a week, or more, depending on your schedule, plan an easy meal and take time to cook it and eat it (at a table). Make it a ritual: have a nice space to eat, use a table decoration or table cloth, have some relaxing music on and take your time to eat it. Really notice what you are eating.

5. If you don’t achieve your goal one week, go back to it the next week, instead of giving up.

Persist with your goals and allow for times when you give up, or don’t make the time to meet them. If you miss meeting your goals one week, start again on them the next week. If you really are struggling to meet your goal every week, review whether it is something you really want to do or the end goal is something you really want. If you are not motivated to do it, you will not find the time.

I hope these tips are useful to help you create some space, time and good health during the party season. Let me know which you have tried and what success you have had.

Relaxing sceneImage courtesy of winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net