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Healthy snacking - tips and tricks

The thing is, snacking is actually great for us. If we do it properly.

I am a freelance journalist dedicated to travelling and keeping fit and healthy. A tragic (but proud) cat lady, I believe in the importance of staying strong, active and healthy in the most practical ways possible. I’m also committed to laughing every day, even if that means at myself…which is usually the case. Robyn Box

We're all guilty of snacking. Be it at our desks, in the car, with the kids...and let’s face it, we’ve all been members of the ‘Secret Snack Society’ - where we sneak in a little bit of leftovers after everyone else has gone to bed thinking if no one sees it, it never happened. 

The thing is, snacking is actually great for us. If we do it properly.

Unfortunately, that’s where we often trip up. For years we’ve been told to eat smaller portions more regularly, but in between working, cooking, chauffeuring the kids to a million activities and yelling at the dog for chewing the couch cushions, who has time to prepare healthy snacks every day?

Not having the time to eat properly flings us into this frustrating place where we want to do it, we know how to do it, and short of filling our bags with carrot sticks and mung beans each day, we’re doing our best to actually do it. But by Wednesday we’re running late for work, sewing a costume for the upcoming school performance and reminding ourselves to pick up the dry cleaning or risk having to wear pyjamas to work the next day.

Snack food? We don’t have time to prepare snack food! So in the ‘I’m trying to be healthy’ frame of mind we zip into Coles, grab a bag of sesame snaps and away we go. Healthy, right?

Not quite.

Welcome to what's known as the 'snack trap'. More than just a catchy name, the ‘snack trap’ lurks in the darkest corners of our hunger, and is essentially where we fall when we don’t plan ahead.

It’s those afternoons when we skip breakfast or lunch and eventually reach for whatever is closest. The dreaded vending machine at work offers chips, chocolates, oat bars or jelly snakes. ‘I don’t want fats or sugars,’ I hear you say, ‘I’ll get an oat bar. That’s good for me’. Makes sense - oats are great!

Well, yes they are. But not if they’re stuck together with butter and sugar. 

Dietician and Nutrition Advisor for Weight Watchers Emma Stirling says the best way to kick the snack trap is to plan ahead, and it need not take you any more than 20 or 30 minutes a week. “Bake a batch of your own healthy oat biscuits, that way you know what’s gone into them” says Stirling. Perhaps do this on Sunday night and pack one or two each day for convenient snacking. Or buy a bunch of bananas to keep at your desk for the week. Easy!

At night or on weekends get the family on board and have fun with some old favourites like popcorn. First, take the heavily buttered and salted pre-popped stuff and slam dunk it in the bin (note: slam dunks count towards your daily 30 minute workout routine). Then, grab the real stuff and pop it yourself. Once it's all done, dress it up with some Mexican spices or some other adventurous spice mix. For a sweet tooth, drizzle a little bit of honey on top instead.

And there you have it – snacks for the week done, and the family not only eating better, but learning to prepare healthy snack options. Use snacking as a chance to eat nutritious food that’s easy and quick to prepare in advance, and you’ll feel the results in no time, and probably save money to boot.

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