Smart snacking

Laura Mappas
Monday, June 23, 2014
Smart snacking. Image: Getty

Need an afternoon pick-me-up? Here are some simple snacks that will boost your blood glucose levels and keep you going until home time.

Getting over the afternoon slump
For good health and productivity you should be eating about 200 calories every two to four hours — that means lots of snacking. In fact, 90 percent of overeating can probably be avoided if you eat small meals more frequently, rather than holding out and then binge eating when the hunger kicks in.

Snacking essentials
There are a few must-haves when searching for the perfect healthy, keep-me-going-all-afternoon snack. First up, it must have a low glycemic index (GI) to keep your blood glucose levels in check. If your blood glucose levels become too high, your body will release insulin to bring it back down, and this will leave you feeling tired and hungry. Low-GI foods contain low carbs and more fat and fibre.

The rest of the healthy snack guidelines are logical. Choose something that's filling and something that's interesting, although it shouldn't be too interesting as you want to be able to control yourself. That means only eating a couple of rice crackers, not the whole packet!

Here are some ideas:

Spicy peanuts
They're crunchy, which makes them interesting to eat, and they're full of fat, fibre and protein — but because they're spicy you're unlikely to eat the entire packet.

Boiled eggs
They taste great, they're filling and they have no carbs, which means they don't even register on the GI. If you're taking them to work as an afternoon snack it's unlikely that you'll eat more than one as you will need to pre-prepare them in the morning — and let's face it, eggs aren't the easiest thing to carry in your handbag!

Half a toasted peanut butter and honey sandwich
Sounds a bit disgusting, I know, but give it a try. The key here is to only eat half of the sandwich, as the whole thing is more of a meal rather than a snack. Here's why it's a good choice: the peanut butter has got enough fat, protein and fibre to keep it low GI, the honey adds sweetness but has few calories, and toasting it keeps it interesting.

Homemade popcorn
It tastes great, is full of fibre and carbs, and has a low GI. It's reasonably healthy (as long as you don't add butter) and it keeps for a day or so. If you haven't eaten it by then, try adding milk — popcorn makes great cereal!

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