Mindful snacking for a healthy, balanced diet
Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures – who hasn’t experienced happiness from tucking into your number one favourite meal? If any of you have your hands up, I’m not quite sure I believe you. Yes, as well as fuelling our bodies with the right nutrients, food is meant to be enjoyed! Whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacking or special occasions.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can eat chocolate cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For a truly healthy, balanced diet, it’s vital that you make regular mindful decisions about what you put in your body. However, this is something people don’t do enough – a 2017 poll* found that the average Brit tries to consume 1,920 calories per day, but often ends up eating 2,635 calories instead due to unplanned snaccidents. Whoops!
Rather than mindlessly nibbling at those stale meeting room sandwiches or leftover crumbly biscuits in autopilot mode, plan some nutritious snacks in advance and savour every bite. By making mindful choices, you can feel fuller for longer and find it easier to maintain a long-term healthy diet. Read on to find out more about the importance of mindful snacking and how it can help maintain a healthy diet.
*In a 2017 poll of 2,000 adults commissioned by The Laughing Cow. Further information about the study available here.
How to maintain a healthy diet ?
Get those necessary nutrients
Think of your body like a car – you’ve got to make sure you put the right stuff into it, so that it can run at its best! Fill it with the wrong fuel, and it will break down.
It’s important to have an assortment of vitamins and nutrients to function, which all come from different types of food. Food types include fruit, vegetables, legumes, beans, dairy products, meat, fish and grains. From these, you can get important nutrients into your diet such as carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins and minerals. I’m sure you’re familiar with the basics: things like getting five portions of fruit and veg per day, and avoiding eating overly sugary or salty foods too often.
However, some are trickier to figure out and are unfairly given a bad rep, like carbs and fats. But while everybody is different, cutting out these food groups entirely is not generally a good idea – remember it’s all about balance. Carbohydrates are an important source of energy, and a small amount of fat is needed to absorb certain vitamins. That means yes, you should enjoy both carbs and fats – feel free to sometimes tuck into that wonderful crusty baguette and enjoy eating the wonders of cheese! I’ve also put together a list about the fantastic nutrients in cheese and my tasty cheese spread here.
Variety is the spice of life
So, we’ve covered the basic nutrients you should be getting into your diets. Now, onto variety! As much as I enjoy grazing on grass all day, every day, I do recognise that we can’t all eat the same foods for every single meal. Besides, there’s plenty of nutritional benefits to keeping your diet varied.
Foods all have unique combinations of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. By mixing up what you eat, you’ll be exposed to a greater range of them. Put together some nutritious snacks that give you a hit of all the right stuff, and try to change them up every now and then. I recommend dividing your snack into three components: one dairy product, one cereal product, and one portion of fruit or nuts, with also a drink (plain water, or unsweetened drink, or fresh fruit juice). You could also play around with your snacks and swap in meat, fish, eggs, vegetables or legumes. This could mean an oatcake topped with one of my tasty triangles and berries in the morning, and a yogurt with a sprinkling of granola and nuts in the afternoon.
How you eat it
As I mentioned before, we should absolutely enjoy eating – it’s one of life’s luxuries! If you totally restrict yourself, you’re not only taking the fun out of food, but are also increasing the chance of binging later on down the line. As well as picking the right foods, mindful snacking is about how you eat those foods. Rather than mindlessly nibbling on whatever’s closest, put aside a set amount of time, get away from your desk if you can, and truly enjoy your snack. Really think about your food, taste every element and take the time to savour every bite – you may well find your next snack all the more satisfying because of it.
Mindful snacking recipes
Right, now onto my favourite part – the snacking itself! My creamy cheese spread is wonderfully versatile, pairing beautifully with both sweet and savoury options. Whether you want to grab a quick bite or really take your time, I’ve got a recipe for you. In fact, my snack recipe page is full of fabulous snack ideas. Scroll down for some of my latest ideas!