Snacking

Snacking can be a healthy habit, giving you energy, protein and a range of vitamins and minerals while keeping you going throughout the day. It can also help you avoid overeating at the next meal by stopping you from getting too hungry.

Not everyone needs or want to snack, but if you do, the key is to think about why you’re snacking and which snacks to choose, and make sure they don’t add more calories than you need over the day. Use these ideas and tips to help.

Tips for healthy snacking

  • Choose snacks low in saturated fat, salt and sugar. Some snack foods can add extra fat, sugar and salt to your diet, so choose carefully. Check the food labels to help you, use this example for saturated fat. watch the portion sizes and go for foods rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre.
  • Listen to hunger cues. Are you really physically hungry, or are you eating for other reasons, such as you’re bored, stressed or tired?  Listening to your body’s true hunger signals may stop you from overeating.
  • Think how often and how much you are snacking. If you’re snacking several times a day, think about the meals you’re eating and when you’re eating them. Aim to have three regular meals a day.

  • Plan your snacks and keep a stock of healthy snacks to hand. This way you’ll have healthy choices available rather than reaching for what’s convenient.

  • Choose snacks from the four main food groups. Vary these throughout the week to get a healthy range of nutrients. Choose from fruit and vegetables, starchy foods, protein, dairy or dairy alternatives.

  • Can’t resist chocolate? You can still enjoy a little bit of chocolate as part of a healthy diet. The trick is to eat chocolate in moderation, perhaps a couple of squares, rather than a whole bar. If you struggle to stop at two squares, dark chocolate might be a good option – it has a richer flavour and does seem to leave you feeling more satisfied by smaller portions compared to milk and white chocolate which are sweeter.

Fruit and vegetable snacks

  • A piece of fresh fruit such as an apple, pear or banana

  • Mixed fruit salad

  • Chopped strawberries, mixed with low fat yogurt and frozen in ice cube trays

  • Juicy peach slices, served with a teaspoon of honey and sunflower seeds

  • Vegetable sticks, with dips, such as low fat hummus, tomato salsa or yogurt and mint

  • A cup of vegetable soup

  • Half an avocado with a tablespoon of tomato salsa

Starchy food snacks

  • A small bowl of wholegrain cereal, such as porridge made with instant oats
  • A slice of wholemeal toast, served with mashed banana, baked beans, or peanut butter with no added salt or sugars
  • A small wholemeal pitta bread, with low fat hummus
  • A small bag of unsalted plain popcorn – try making it yourself at home and try adding a spicy seasoning, or a sprinkle of cinnamon or a low-calorie powdered sweetener
  • Two oatcakes or rice cakes, topped with a chopped hard-boiled egg and black pepper, or low fat hummus and cucumber slices
  • A couple of wholegrain breadsticks, served with a tomato salsa
  • Two rye crackers, with a topping such as cottage cheese and chives
  • A plain or fruit wholemeal scone, thinly topped with low fat spread
  • A hot-cross bun or slice of malt loaf, thinly topped with low fat spread

Protein food snacks

  • A small handful of nuts
  • Low fat hummus, with carrot, cucumber and celery sticks
  • Baked chickpeas
  • A tablespoon of nuts and seeds sprinkled on low fat yogurt

Dairy and dairy alternative snacks

  • A small pot of 0% Greek fat yogurt, topped with fruits, nuts and seeds
  • A glass of skimmed or semi skimmed milk - try blending with a banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Low calorie hot chocolate made with skimmed or semi-skimmed milk
  • Cottage cheese (served on a couple of plain crackers)
  • A small pot of low fat yogurt or soya yogurt alternative

Try our healthy snack recipes

Here's a few to get you started:

California Walnut Power Balls

Smoky Rosemary and Chilli California Walnuts

Banana and Blueberry Oat Muffins

Chocolate shredded nests