Hard-boiled egg When it comes to protein, it’s hard to go past a hard-boiled egg, which gives you 6 grams of protein, plus a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals.
Mini fritatas Convert your favourite frittata recipe into snack-sized servings with a mini-muffin tray or friand pan. Cut fat by using egg whites only for every second egg (i.e. if your recipe calls for two eggs, use one whole one and one egg white). Choose low calorie fillings – try spinach and low-fat feta, or grilled capsicum and basil.
Soy smoothie Pureeing half of a small banana with 200ml low-fat soy, almond or skinny milk creates a delicious smoothie that’s high in protein but only contains about 100 calories.
Tamari almonds Fourteen tamari-roasted almonds have all the crunch and salty zip you look for in a savoury snack and come in at around 100 calories.
Tinned tuna A single serve of tinned tuna in spring water contains less than 70 calories, plus it’s easy to eat straight from the can or spread on low-calorie crispbread.
Prawns 100g of fresh prawns provide around 100 calories, along with a whopping 23g of protein. Forget creamy tartare sauce – a dash of lemon juice is all you need.
Whey protein This inexpensive powder can be mixed with water, skim or soy milk for an instant protein boost. Its unique nutritional make-up includes several immunologically active compounds (e.g. lactoferrin), but its real advantage in the snacking stakes is that it helps you feel full longer than other protein sources.
Fat-free yoghurt Packed with protein and providing only 50 calories per 100g, yoghurt is very versatile. Use it instead of sour cream to add oomph to chilli, make it the basis for your favourite home-made dip (like the tzatziki recipe in the “Nibbles and Entertaining” section), or to thicken up a smoothie, or spoon over fruit salad.
Low- fat ricotta At only 35 calories per 25g serve, this is an excellent spread for a mid-morning cracker snack. Try it with snipped sun-dried tomatoes on a rice cake. Lowfat cottage cheese, cream cheese and feta are also good low-calorie choices.
Turkey breast Sliced turkey breast is available at most delis, and is an easy, high protein snack weighing in at around 100 calories per 100g.
Smoked salmon Each 60g serve contains 13g of protein, about 95 calories, and around a gram of good-for-you omega-3 fatty acids.
Tofu Nibbling on 50-100g of tofu will set you back less than 100 calories, regardless of whether you prefer the soft or firm variety.
Fill Up with Fibre
Corn on the cob This is low in fat and calories, but provides 2.5g of appetite-satisfying fibre. Small tins of sugar-free corn kernels make a great stand-by snack.
Baked beans A small tin of low-salt baked beans contains a fraction over 100 calories, plus 4g of fibre. Skip the toast if you want to keep the calorie count down.
Pumpernickel For low calorie snacking, it’s best to avoid bread, but pumpernickel is an exception as a thin slice only contains around 50 calories. Topped with a slice of low-fat pastrami and a smear of horseradish, this is a very tasty mid-morning morsel.
Ed amame These are baby soybeans, and you’ll find fresh ones at your local fruit shop or frozen packs at Asian grocery stores. They make an excellent high fibre, high protein snack, and you can consume about half a cupful for less than 100 calories.
Asparagus You’d need to eat about 30 asparagus spears to reach 100 calories. That means you can afford to sprinkle something decadent over the top, like finely grated Parmesan and black pepper.
Wholegrain cereal Choose one that’s low in fat and sugar, and high in fibre, then snack on half the quantity you’d normally have for breakfast (a cupful rather than a bowl). We like the Norganic Crunchola range, which is sweetened with juice instead of sugar and provides nearly 12g of fibre per 100g.
Porridge Rolled oats are one of Mother Nature’s original comfort foods. A small bowl of porridge (made from 25g of rolled oats) provides around 95 calories and 2.5g of fibre. For extra sweetness, add cinnamon goji berries or dates during cooking.
Dried apricots These are very more-ish, but restrict yourself to a dozen at a time if you want to keep your snack under 100 calories.
Pear A medium pear comes in at around 100 calories and provides 5.5g of fibre.
Green beans Grab a handful of raw green beans, top and tail them, and you’ve got a crunchy snack that’s so low-cal you could eat over 50 before you reach 100 calories.
Fruit bars Made from 100% fruit and packing 3.5g of fibre into a 35g bar, the newest generation of fruit bars are much more flavoursome than ones you may have tried in the past. Try Angus Park Fruit Salad bar and Go Natural Fruit Medley bar which are both around 100 calories.
Nibbles and Entertaining
Home-made hummus Make your own hummus by rinsing a tin of chickpeasand tossing them in the food processor with some lemon or orange juice, a swig each of tahini and extra-virgin olive oil, a crushed garlic clove, and enough water to keep the mixture smooth and creamy.
Cannellini bean dip Follow the same process as for hummus, this time whizzing a tin of cannellini beans with some olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and water. Add even more flavour with fresh basil or rosemary.
Low-fat tzatziki Made with low-fat yoghurt, tzatziki is a very virtuous choice. Grate the flesh of a Lebanese cucumber (keeping the skin on, but discarding the seeds), squeeze out as much moisture as you can, and stir through a bowl of skim milk or greek yoghurt. Add finely chopped mint, garlic and dill for a nourishing and virtually fat-free snack that’s only around 100 calories per 100g.
Crunchy crudités The best accompaniment to your home-made dip is a selection of crisp vegetables. Carrots, cucumber and celery are trusty standbys, but for something different, the boat-shape of a small witlof leaf makes the perfect vessel for a healthy dip, and is almost calorie-free.
Don’t undo all that good work by choosing the wrong cracker to scoop your dip up with. Forget the corn chips and instead try one of the new low-calorie wholegrain options, such as Vive Wholemeal Crispbreads at around 26 calories each.
Rice cakes Rice cakes can be as low as 6 calories each, but like other forms of puffed grains, their glycaemic index (GI) is not as good as that of the wholegrain rice they’re made from. Get around this by teaming them with some protein, like a thin swipe of nut butter.
Olives These can really take the edge off a salt craving and only carry about 80 calories per 100g. Rinse off the oil they were marinated in before you eat them.
Rice paper rolls Vegetarian or prawn rice paper rolls are low in fat and will generally be less than 100 calories per serve – but go easy on the dipping sauce, which could be full of sugar.
Tabouleh This is one of the healthiest takeaway foods you’ll find. The calorie content will vary from store to store, but as a guide, the tabouleh from Sumo Salad weighs in at about 100 calories per 100g. Reduce the calories even further by draining the oil off before you eat it.
Sushi Depending on the filling you choose, small sushi rolls can contain as little as 20-30 calories
each. Avoid rolls containing fried chicken or pork, and instead choose vegetarian, raw fish or prawn.
Dumplings Check your local Asian grocery for frozen gow gee-style dumplings in varieties such as prawn, scallop, spinach or mixed vegetables. They’re great to keep in the freezer and steam when you need quick, healthy snacks that come in at under 100 calories each.
Wasabi peas These little green nuggets are so spicy that you probably can’t eat more than a third of a cupful at a time, which equates to about 80 calories.
Miso Sachets of instant miso soup mean you’ll never want for a hot drink to pep you up; and, at around 25 calories per cup, miso is a far healthier option than a full-fat cappuccino.
Sun-dried tomatoes With their strong flavour, a few sun-dried tomatoes go a long way. Drain the oil off and pat dry with a paper towel to absorb any leftover fat; a 25g serve (around eight pieces) will contribute about 50 calories to your daily intake.
Tropical fruit frappe For a tropical delight at around 100 calories per serve, toss a few chunks of pineapple, a quarter of a banana, a splash of your favourite sugar-free juice and a few mint leaves into the blender with a handful of ice cubes.
Prunes These are so sweet you won’t need many to quench your sugar cravings. At around 25 calories each, just two a day should do it.
Lychees Take advantage of lychees when they’re in season, as each one only gives you about six calories.
Baked apple with berries For a divinely guilt-free dessert, remove the core from a small apple before filling the cavity with frozen mixed berries. Cover loosely with foil and bake in a pre-heated 180ºC oven for about 45 minutes.
Biscotti Check out Kez’s gluten-free range, including Almond bread and Cranberry varieties, both around 20 calories per slice.
Banana ‘popsicles’ Frozen bananas(or grapes) are gloriously creamy and an ideal alternative to commercial ice blocks. Peel a batch of bananas, insert popsicle sticks, and whip them into the freezer until the next ice-cream craving hits.
Watermelon granita Pureed with a couple of finely chopped mint leaves, watermelon makes the perfect granita, at just a fraction of the calories of ice cream. Place ²/³ cup of peeled, diced and seeded watermelon in a blender, along with the juice of ½ lemon and about 1 teaspoon of caster sugar dissolved in 20ml of warm water. Process on high speed. Place liquid in a tray and freeze; remove tray every half hour or so and chop with a fork to create the granita texture.
Clever cookies Yes, you can buy low-fat, low-calorie, low-GI biscuits that actually taste good. Check out the Freedom Foods range in the health food section of your supermarket.
Rockmelon and honeydew A cupful of diced rockmelon and/or honeydew melon is refreshingly sweet, but only adds about 100 calories to your daily tally.
Stewed rhubarb Even though it’s cooked with a little sugar, a single serve of stewed rhubarb yields only around 75 calories.
Liquorice This sweet indulgence really hits the spot at only 90 calories per 25g serve.
Cocoa Want a chocolate hit that’s less than 100 calories? Team good quality cocoa powder (not the ones full of artificial sugar and flavours, but the type that you use in baking) with a cup of skim milk.
Understanding the physical and psychological factors that drive snacking behaviour is the first step in controlling it. Take a moment to read these statements – which ones sound like you?
I sometimes spend days just ‘grazing’. Skipping meals (especially breakfast) is a big nutritional no-no. Far from helping you to lose weight, skipping meals makes you more likely to snack on high sugar, high calorie foods, so you end up consuming more energy in the day than you would have otherwise. Furthermore, skipping meals may slow down your metabolism, so it’s easier for you to put on weight and harder to lose it,and you feel tired and scatter-brained into the bargain.
I have good intentions – but I always cave in and go for the unhealthy option. You’re not alone in having a gap between intended and actual behaviour. In a Dutch study published in 2008, participants were asked to indicate whether they would choose a healthy or unhealthy snack, and about 50 per cent chose each option. A week later, when the time came to select and actually eat a snack, more than one in four of those who’d previously planned to choose the healthy snack went for the unhealthy one instead.
I’m very disciplined about my diet, but if I lose control everything goes to pot. Adhering strictly to a diet or eating plan might seem like a sound approach to weight management, but for most people, it’s not sustainable. The more restrictive and restrained you are with your eating, the more likely you are to fall off the wagon and have a real blow-out on high calorie, high fat foods. Over time, this results in yo-yo dieting, and this slows down the metabolism.
I snack on unhealthy foods, particularly when I’m stressed. This is another common pattern among overweight and obese people of both sexes. You’re more likely to be susceptible to emotional eating if you’re also highly disciplined with your diet. The level of conscious control (or lack of it) that you perceive you have over your eating may be a contributing factor. It’s not just being stressed that makes the biscuit jar beckon so beguilingly, either – feelings of hostility and anxiety also trigger this kind of eating.
Once I start eating, I don’t know when to stop. One problem is that your brain is slow to recognise when your belly is full, so you keep eating beyond the point of being satiated. You might also be responding to external cues to eat, rather than an inner physiological sense of hunger. Triggers could be environmental (“I always have a choc-top at the movies”), visual (“Once I saw the cake on the table I had to eat it”) or emotional (“I was bored at work so I had a packet of chips”).
Most of my snacking happens in front of the TV. This kind of mindless eating contributes to an enormous number of weight problems and has even been documented in preschool-aged children. It’s scientifically proven that the transfixing effects of television make you eat more. In part, the distraction of the TV dampens your brain’s ability to register that you’re full, so you just keep on putting food in your mouth. However, the calorie promoting effects persist even after you’ve turned the telly off. For example, when offered a snack of cookies in the afternoon, women who had watched television while eating their lunch ate more than women who had eaten their previous meal without TV.
My sugar cravings are impossible to resist. I think it could be my hormones. Cravings and snacking behaviour can certainly have a hormonal basis. In particular, the influence of the hormone insulin is intimately involved with blood sugar levels, and that can influence your desire for sugar and carbohydrates. Women may find that their snacking habits change during the course of their monthly cycle, with intensified cravings for sugar and carbohydrates during the premenstrual phase. The reverse is also true: the way you eat can impact on your hormonal health. For example, women who frequently consume snacks made from rapidly absorbed carbohydrates (e.g. sugars and refined flours) experience more rapid onset of menopausal symptoms than women who don’t. And poor long-term dietary habits could mean your future includes type 2 diabetes. If there is a hormonal basis to your cravings, then appropriate treatment will bring them under control. The first step is to determine exactly what’s going on, so arrange for the appropriate tests with your GP.
If you’re not vigilant, snacking can sabotage the best-laid diet and nutrition plans, and consistently making poor choices can mean the difference between a healthy body weight and being obese. The way you snack is about much more than hunger: snack food choices are about emotions and convenience. Snacking is also often mindless, seeming to occur without any conscious effort on your part.
Distinguish true hunger
Any desire to eat that can only be satisfied by one food (e.g. chocolate, hot chips, biscuits, ice cream) is not really hunger at all. It may be a signal that your blood sugar levels are out of whack, or it might be that you’re feeling bored, depressed or angry. Once you’ve identified what’s really going on, you may still choose to eat whatever it is you’ve been craving, but the awareness may make it easier to stop after just a mouthful. On the other hand, if the real issue is emotional, you may find a more constructive way to deal with it (e.g. heading to the gym to pound a punching bag!).
Reframe your goals
Phrase your diet and nutrition goals in a positive and measurable way, such as, “I will eat at least two pieces of fruit every day”, rather than in a negative and unmeasurable way like, “I will not eat chocolate”. This is one of the basic tenets of goal-setting and visualisation, and it has been clinically proven to be a more effective way to implement dietary change. Research shows that if your focus is on food you’re trying to avoid, you’re actually likely to end up eating less healthily, not more.
Develop an action plan
Your new, positively framed goal won’t happen by itself: you need to plan how you’re going to implement it. Thinking about triggers that cause you to snack will help you work out the best way to cement new habits. For example, if your biggest downfall is snacking on foods that you can see, your strategy might be, “I will keep a big bowl of fruit on my desk to remind me to eat two pieces every day”.
Part of the reason our snacking habits wreak such dietary havoc is that we make our choices haphazardly, leaving us highly susceptible to whims. Instead, plan your snacking into your day: decide in advance what you’re going to eat, and set up a plan as to how you’re going to make it happen. Look at the list of low-calorie nutritious snacks in this article (“Amazing Treats Under 100 Calories”). You’ll find many are suitable to keep in your handbag or desk drawer, so they’re available when you need them. That way, when stress strikes, you’ll have something healthy on hand to counter the urge to indulge in something fatty or sugary.
Marry health and convenience
When buying food, convenience and accessibility accounts for as much as one third of the purchasing decision. So now that you’ve planned what you’re going to snack on, make sure it’s close by. If you’ve got a tub of low-fat yoghurt in the office fridge, you’re more likely to snack on that than walk to the sandwich shop for a sticky bun.
Keep temptation out of reach
The same principle works in reverse. If you know that you have difficulty resisting certain snacks, keep them out of the house! You’re less likely to eat chocolate at 10 o’clock at night if you have to get in the car and go to the shops to get it.
Prepare food at home
Food prepared outside the home is prepared outside your control, and when it comes to commercially-prepared food, health considerations come a distant last after profitability, popularity and how quick and easy something is to make. Unless you’re shopping at the greengrocer, odds are that most ready-to-eat snacks you buy will be laden with fat, salt, sugar, or all three.
Turn the TV off
The more you watch TV, the more you’re likely to snack, and the less likely you are to realise when you’re full. Plus more viewing exposes you to more advertising, and guess what? That makes you more likely to buy and eat junk food.
Slow down and notice what you’re eating and how your body feels. There’s a time lag of up to 20 minutes between your tummy becoming full and your brain realising that it’s had enough food. The faster you eat, the more calories you guzzle down before that signal gets through. Being distracted by watching TV or eating at your desk means it takes even longer to register that you’re full.
Think back before you snack
Research shows that vividly recalling your last meal helps to decrease your food intake later. That’s one of the reasons that eating while watching TV increases subsequent snacking – if you’re too distracted to pay attention to what you’ve been eating, it’s almost like it never happened.
Choose high fibre and protein
A nutrient-dense snack keeps you satisfied for longer, so you’re less likely to over-eat later in the day. Your best choices are snacks that are high in protein and/ or fibre. Compared to those that are fatty or sugary, these snacks also improve your glucose and insulin balance throughout the day. Include a few serves of whole grains in your main meals every day for the same reasons – they’ll help you feel full, and improve your insulin sensitivity.
Aim for adaptability
Be flexible. Life is for living, so if you really do feel like hot chips occasionally, don’t deprive yourself. You’ve got a better chance of maintaining healthier snacking habits if you allow yourself a little indulgence now and then!
When overweight people added chilli and garlic to their food, they lost an average of 17 kg over 6 months.
1. Plan and keep a food diary
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Take a few minutes each week to plan your meals and snacks for the week before you shopping. This way you will be less likely to eat energy dense, nutrient lacking processed foods on the go. Keeping a food diary is a great way to stay accountable to not only the types of food you are eating but also when and how much you are eating.
2. Eat a variety
Eating a variety maximises your chances of absorbing the most amount of nutrients from your food. It also reduces food boredom. Look for different meats and a rainbow of fruit and veg.
3. Eat small regularly
This ensures your blood sugar levels won’t get too low which can lead to poor food choices when you’re ravenous. Eating before your workouts gives you energy to get the best workout possible. Eating within 30 minutes after your workout gives your body the best chance to replenish muscles and therefore recover. If you are trying to reduce body fat percentage you don’t need to eat more, just plan your meals or snacks around your workouts.
4. Eat protein with every meal
Protein helps to keep you satisfied and your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Unlike carbohydrates and fats, protein cannot be stored in the body, therefore it should be eaten over the day. Best sources are: lean meats such as; chicken, beef/veal (low fat), turkey, pork chops, fish and kangaroo. Due to the high amount of energy in meat, substitute non-meat protein sources over the day such as low fat yoghurt, cottage cheese, beans, tofu, nuts, seeds and milk. If you struggle to eat enough protein, a protein shake is a convenient snack on the go.
5. Eat slow carbohydrates
The best carbohydrates will:
• fuel your brain, helping you to work at optimal cognitive capacity,
• help you to perform at your best during exercise,
• provide fiber and resistant starch to help keep you regular and your bowel healthy and
• provide you with a relatively cheap and easily stored source of food.
The best sources: brown rice, kumara, quinoa, oats, vegetables. Bulk up your meals with leafy green veg (spinach, asian greens, kale etc.) to feel fuller without the added calories.
6. Include good fats
The Good: Unsaturated Fats
What they do: These fats raise good HDL cholesterol, lower bad LDL cholesterol, and protect against the build up of plaque in your arteries. They can also help prevent belly fat.
Where you'll find them: In olive oil and olives, canola oil, almonds, cashews, peanuts, peanut butter, sesame seeds, and avocados.
How much you need: Most of the fat you eat should be unsaturated.
What they do: In addition to lowering your LDL, these fats contain essential omega-3 fatty acids -- which boost brain function and may help strengthen your immune system and improve your mood -- and omega-6 fatty acids, which in small amounts can keep skin and eyes healthy.
Where you'll find them: Omega-3s are primarily in fish like salmon, mackerel, and herring, as well as canola oil, flaxseed, walnuts, and tofu. Omega-6s are in corn and safflower oil, corn-fed chicken and beef, and farmed fish.
How much you need: Most of the polys you eat should be omega-3s. Too much omega-6 can lead to inflammation, which is linked to heart disease. Trade vegetable oil for olive and canola oils, and eat grass-fed beef and wild-caught fish.
The Bad: Saturated Fats
What they do: They raise cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease.
Where you'll find them: In meat and poultry, in dairy products like cream, butter and whole and 2 percent milk, and in some plant foods like palm oil.
How much you need: Limit saturated fat. Remove any hard fat you can see, such as the skin on chicken.
The Ugly: Trans Fats
What they do: Made from unsaturated fat that's been chemically altered to prolong the shelf life of packaged foods, trans fats raise bad LDL and lower good HDL, increasing inflammation throughout the body.
Where you'll find them: In margarine, doughnuts, french fries, and processed foods such as crackers, biscuits, chips, and cakes.
How much you need: Zero.
7. Drink plenty of water:
Often when we feel hungry, our bodies actually just need more hydration. Even in a cool climate, water is essential to improve digestion, joint mobility and flush out toxins. Build up to a minimum of 2 L water a day (this can also include herbal tea). You will not only notice an improvement in your skin but also you concentration levels.
8. Eliminate alcohol for best results:
Have you ever heard the expression ‘empty calories’? This term relates to alcohol as it offers us nothing but calories (and a hang-over) in return (ie. no nutritional gain). Alcohol also ranks first on the list of priorities to be digested. Therefore the carbohydrates, fats and even proteins you have consumed are delayed. As a result you are more likely to store this food as body fat and most importantly you miss out on the nutrients from the food whilst upsetting your hormone levels (therefore reduced results from the gym).
Further, alcohol can increase your appetite or desire to eat, primarily due to dehydration. It often also plays tricks with your mind and weakens your determination to eat well. Consequently you will be more likely to be tempted by high fat/sugar foods the more you drink.
9. Best Supplements:
Multivitamin, Omega 3’s (Fish oil or flaxseed oil) and Magnesium.
10. Get adequate sleep
Eliminate all distractions in the room that you sleep. TV’s, phones, computers etc. The room you sleep in should be designed for sleep, relaxing and rejuvenating. It is the only time of your day that you get to do this. Aim for about 7-8 hours a night.
11. Stress less
As well as making us fatter, stress also makes fat more persistent. Stress responds via two main hormones-cortisol and adrenalin, which are responsible for your ‘fight or flight’ response.
Adrenalin gets your body ready to fight or flight. It is released very quickly in response to severe stress such as a danger, being yelled at or finding a pile of bills in the mail. Adrenalin acts for a short duration. If stress prolongs, then the long-lasting hormone will kick in-cortisol.
Stress hormones store more fat, especially around your central area. This fat will remain there for as long as your cortisol hormones remain high. Examples of long term stress could be a stressful job, studies, relationship issues or even chronic pain. These stress factors could all contribute to the extra fat that you have stored around your tummy and regardless of how hard you exercise, this particular fat will not budge.
Find your stress triggers and learn ways to de-stress.
For more information contact Eleanor.
if it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you.
Eleanor Browne is a degree qualified and experienced Nutritionist and Personal Trainer. Watch this space for nutrition and training tips and recipes.