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Attack the Snack

What we eat matters. Food is fuel for life. And there’s no doubting the data: the better the fuel, the healthier the life. (It’s not exactly rocket science.) So, if you’re serious about getting healthy, you need to think about what you eat. First up though, a couple of tips:

  • Forget about diets – they don’t work
  • Don’t starve yourself – famine leads to feast
  • Don’t skip breakfast – you’ll be hungrier earlier and more likely to snack
  • Eat plants – fruit and veg are low in calories but high in fibre, vits and minerals
  • Small is cool – a smaller plate will help control portions
Why not try healthy eating for a week?

Britain is becoming a nation of snackers. For a bunch of reasons – we’re busy, we’re on the move, we’re surrounded by snacks – nearly two out of three of us regularly swap a meal for a snack. One in three of us does it daily.

Let’s be clear – there’s nothing wrong with a healthy snack. Grab an apple, crack open a handful of nuts, pop some raisins – all part of a healthy diet.

But too many of us reach for the other stuff: the sweets, the cakes, the croissants, the crisps, the salted nuts.

Wolfing sweet and salty snacks packs away the calories. And because they’re only a short-term hunger fix, we’re all too likely to reach for some more.

Even worse for the waistband are snacks between meals. Over half of us, a whopping 57%, are guilty. Eat three good meals a day and you shouldn’t need to snack.

So how to say no to the snack?

The snacking hour

Research says prime times for snacking are 10.00-11.00am and 3.00-4.00pm. That’s when blood sugar dips. If you’re serious about taking control of those calories, that’s when you need to be canny. And if you can’t say no, here are a few tips to help you snack healthy.

  • Read the label – unless it’s fresh fruit, make a note of salt and fat content – and the calorie hit. When it comes to health, less is more.
  • If you like to keep snacks close, try swapping sweets and crisps for unsalted nuts or plain old popcorn.
  • Portion proportion – if you’re attacking the snack, keep it small – but remember: if it’s fruit and veg, size doesn’t matter so much.
  • Listen to your body – do you really need that snack? Are you hungry? Or is this more about comfort and reward?
  • Think ahead. Know your routines. And if know you’re going to snack, buy healthy in advance.

Here’s our myth-busting guide to healthy eating for an active lifestyle – with thanks to the NHS and the British Nutrition Foundation.

  • Eat only what you need – this means eating the same calories you burn.
  • Starchy carbs are the bedrock of an active life. Bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, cereals – make them the bulk of your daily diet.
  • Aim for that five a day. Dice an apple or slice a banana on your breakfast. Canned fruit counts – so have a tin of peaches for dessert. Tinned tomatoes are a great – and easy – base for a pasta sauce. Try dried fruit as a snack or sprinkle frozen berries onto a scoop of ice cream. Stuff some salad into a sarnie – be inventive.
  • Our bodies need fat – but not too much. A lot of processed foods are stuffed with sugar and fat to add flavour. Biscuits, pies and cakes are major culprits. Try for unsaturated fats instead – olive and vegetable oils. And cut down on fizzy, sugary drinks. Fresh food is better for you than processed.
  • Drink water. Lots of water. Particularly if you are exercising. Flush out those kidneys, open those pores.
  • FISH ARE FRIENDS. Particularly if they are oily. Mackerel, sardines, salmon, fresh tuna, anchovies, trout – they are all bursting with good stuff. And if oily fish aren’t your thing, swap fatty red meat for a nice bit of white fish – cod, hake and coley are all delicious.

Eat a good, balanced diet – mostly plant-based. Eat in moderation (with the occasional treat.) And get active. You’ll feel a whole lot better for it.

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