Snacking isn’t a bad thing, it’s what you eat that makes a difference. Mindlessly munching on sugar-loaded, nutrient-deficient snacks is bad. And the fact that you need a snack/s between meals is not a bad thing at all, just be mindful what you shove into that pie-hole, that’s all.

Snacking keeps you fuelled, focused, satisfied and stable, so you can not only survive busy days, but also thrive. But there’s an art to healthy snacking, and it’s important to find wholesome foods that will quiet your hunger, reward you with powerful nutrients, and provide the motivation you need to tackle whatever the day brings.

We don’t need to stop eating between meals, instead, we need to rethink what we eat and how we approach eating. Being smart with your snacks and making every little thing you eat count is what matters, not depriving and starving yourself.

Ask Yourself Why You’re Snacking

Most of the time we snack out of boredom. Noticing your motivation for craving a snack, is a great first step to becoming a healthier snacker. Will a snack truly fix the problem? if so, proceed with your mid-day bite, or is snacking an automatic reflex or a temporary distraction to avoid an unpleasant task?

So before grabbing that snack, stop and ask yourself if you really need the snack, or if you’re just bored or anxious.

Listen To Your Body’s Hunger Cues

Don’t snack just because it’s part of your daily routine; do it when you’re actually a little bit hungry. Just because you’re used to grabbing a snack in the afternoon doesn’t necessarily mean that you actually need it every day.

Load Up On Protein And Fibre

Your snacks should be 150 to 250 calories, and about 3 grams of fibre, 5 grams of protein, and no more than 12 grams of fat. Why? well because protein and fibre help you feel full and satisfied, so you shouldn’t feel the need to grab another snack soon after, and you’ll be less likely to overeat at your next meal.

Add Some Fruit Or Vegetable To Every Snack

Think of ways to incorporate servings of fruits and vegetables into your snacks. This will instantly add a little fibre, vitamins and antioxidants into your treat. For example, if you feel a craving for some sharp cheddar, pair it with tart, green apple slices instead of crackers. Chips and guac on your mind? Use cucumber slices or red bell peppers in place of chips to scoop up guacamole, hummus, and other dips.

Snack Mindfully

Snacking mindfully just means to be present while you eat. So put down that phone or tablet and try not to multitask. Instead, enjoy the flavours of the food you are eating. A 2009 study conducted at the University of Birmingham, in England, showed that when you’re distracted during mealtime, you may be more likely to over-snack later on.

“When we eat, we encode information about a meal, including the flavors, the textures, and how satisfied we feel, which is called a meal memory,” says the study’s co-author Suzanne Higgs, a psychology professor specializing in the psychobiology of appetite at the University of Birmingham. Watching TV or answering emails may prevent you from forming proper meal memories, she says, which can trick your brain and lead you to snack on junk later, even though you may not be physiologically hungry.

Slow Down And Plate Your Snack

Extending the time you take to eat your snack, can reinforce the idea to the brain that you are eating. Don’t gobble down your snack in one big gulp, because your brain takes time to register that you’re putting food into the body (this can take up to 20 minutes) to make that connection. Also making the simple effort of plating your snack, helps you to eat more slowly and practice portion control.