Read this quick article and learn how to make healthy and balanced snacks which you can take with you anywhere! This is a very important skill, especially when you want to maintain or lose weight and when you want to focus on food’s nutrient density.
Moreover, having balanced snacks will provide your body with all the required antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and will make you feel full for longer and avoid sugar cravings. There are many people, who struggle when they are on holidays, or travelling to know what to snack on. Also it can also be hard to be aware of what to make at home which will stay fresh, and can be consumed even a few hours later whilst being tasty and nutritious. Our nutritionist, Anna-Maria explains how to make balanced snacks (aka aim to contain lean protein, complex carbohydrates, good fats, fruits or vegetables) and how to combine the foods, will help you improve your overall eating habits and vitality.
Snack #1: Tortilla wraps
Choose a brown tortilla (or make your own one). Combine it with a bit of cottage cheese or a mixture which contains low-fat Greek yogurt and a bit of mustard. Add some vegetables like baby tomatoes, cucumber, carrots or celery. Top up with seeds like pumpkin or sunflower seeds. This way you will make a complete meal which will keep you full for longer and which can be kept in a cool bag and can be consumed within a few hours. If you are an athlete or a very active individual you can top up with extra protein by adding chicken, smoked salmon or falafel. Make sure you keep the snack in a cool place such as a coolbag, or store in a fridge at the office.
Snack #2: Consider vegetables with cheese or tofu.
Vegetables contain a variety of vitamins like vitamin A, C, and K and they are a good source of fibre. Fibre is important to keep blood sugar levels stable, to bring satiation (make us feel full), and it can improve bowel movement and digestion. Also people who follow diets high in fibre tend to have healthier body weights (1). Our top tip is to consume more colours and a variety of veggies in order to provide your body with more antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds which can help fighting the free radicals and may help in disease prevention (2).
Especially for your little ones, try making homemade crisps (in the oven) like carrot, sweet potato, avocado or kale chips. Popcorn is another good snack idea which also contains a good amount of fibre. You can snack on any vegetables you like and you can actually have as many as you like! Make a mixture with a variety of vegetables, combine it with a brown cracker, an egg, a bit of cottage or tofu cheese and you will have a complete snack. If you are vegan consider adding nuts, seeds, or soya cheese. Our nutritionist Nourhan explains how to make eating veggies fun in this handy article.
Snack #3: A fruit salad with yoghurt.
Yoghurt is a good source of protein and calcium and a food which contains probiotics. Aim for the natural Greek yogurt option or for the ones which have written on them that they contain live active cultures. Probiotics are otherwise known as ‘’friendly bacteria” found in foods like yoghurt or foods which have been fermented. Probiotics seem to boost immunity, help in disease prevention, improve the bioavailability of nutrients, the gut function and bowel movement (3, 4). Have one yoghurt a day either for breakfast or as a snack so you can see the real benefits. Combine it with fruits, honey or maple syrup, seeds (e.g. flaxseeds or chia seeds). It’s a quick and complete snack which you can buy or make anywhere you are!
Snack #4: Healthier cereal bars
Most of the bars you find on the market are high in sugars, saturated and trans fatty acids. It’s very important to learn how to read the food labels Here is a great resource from the NHS on food labels. Try and consider bar options which are lower in sugars and salt and which contain a good amount of protein and fibre. Aim for the options which specify on their package that they are low in sugars. Often bars may contain a higher amount of fats if they contain nuts - if this is the case that's okay, if it's high in fat and doesn't contain nuts then please avoid.
If you have time though, you can look for healthier homemade bars, which you can make within 10 or 15 min. By making your own homemade bar, you know exactly the ingredients it contains and you can add natural ingredients like nuts, seeds, nut butter or non-dairy milk options that you like. Searching for healthier and quick recipes which you can make at home or while you are on holidays can be a fun hobby, but we appreciate most of you may not have the time.
Snack #5: Nuts and dried fruits
Nuts are a good protein and omega 3 fatty acids source. They are definitely the easiest option you can carry with you or the one you can buy from any shop, either in your home country or abroad. They are also a great idea to have when you are travelling by plane or boat. Nuts are high in antioxidants and have been shown that when they are consumed in moderation, they can help in losing or maintaining a healthy weight (5, 6). They also seem to have lots of other health benefits such as preventing from cardiovascular disease (5, 6). Definitely consider them for anywhere you are and combine them with dried fruits such as apricots, strawberries, papaya, sultanas, blueberries, pineapple etc. Aim for the no added sugar dried fruit options and try and avoid having them on their own ( as they can be bad for our dental health).
We hope this suggestions give some examples of how to snack smarter, often many of you may need a personalised session with our nutrition team for more tailored advice. Please remember we are here to help, if you would like to speak to us please complete our nutrition form and we can get back to you shortly.
This article was written by Anna-Maria our sports nutritionist. Anna-Maria is a registered sports nutritionist, (SENr, INDI), with 8 years of experience. Anna-Maria trained at Oxford Brookes University and National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece. She is also a sports scientist and a Yoga teacher and offers nutrition consultations online.
1. Anderson, J. W., Baird, P., Davis, R. H., Ferreri, S., Knudtson, M., Koraym, A., Waters, V., Williams, C. L. (2009). Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutrition Reviews 67, 4, 188-205.
2. Hajhashemi, V., Vaseghi, G., Pourfarzam, M., and Abdollahi, A. (2010). Are antioxidants helpful for disease prevention? Res Pharm Sci, 5, 1, 1-8.
3. Nagpal, R., Kumar, A., Kumar, M., Behare, P. V., Jain, S., and Yadav, H. (2012). Probiotics, their health benefits and applications for developing healthier foods: a review. FEMS Microbiology Letters, 334, 1, 1-15.
4. Kechagia, M., Basoulis, D., Konstantopoulou, S., Dimitriadi, D., Gyftopoulou, K., Skarmoutsou, N., and Fakiri, E. M. (2013). Health Benefits of Probiotics: A Review. ISRN Nutr, 2013, 481651, 1-7.
5. Ros, E. (2010). Health Benefits of nut consumption. Nutrients, 2, 7, 652-682.
6. Machado de Souza, R. G., Schincaglia, R. M., Pimentel, G. D., Mota, J. F. (2017). Nuts and Human Health Outcomes: A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 9, 12, 1-23.