We’re in the business of snack, so we will be the first to celebrate it. However, we’re absolute advocates of healthy snacking, meaning offering your body something small and nourishing to see it through a period of fasting or as the filling between two of the day’s main meals.
We know all too often the temptation to reach for unhealthy but sinfully satisfying snacks like processed chocolate bars, trans fat-laden crisps and sugary soft drinks. Ever stop to wonder, ‘why do we snack’? Often we’re trying to change the way we feel through the food we eat and we’ve got the lowdown on the top four factors…
One of the biggest triggers for craving fat and sugar-laden foods is stress. When we’re stressed our bodies produce cortisol which is the hormone behind the ‘fight or flight’ mode that we so often fall into. Increasing sugar in the blood, it opens up the body to extra energy at the expense of your immune system and blocks the release of insulin and other hormones, therefore increasing hunger. Because of our supped-up hormone levels, the body is preparing us for the aforementioned fight or flight when we’re really just snowed under in deadlines sat in front of a computer. All this lost fuel that’s produced can lead to weight gain, not to mention reaching for the worst snacks possible as a quick fix.
How to beat it: Swap caffeine and sugar-heavy stimulants (causing a brief sprike followed by a length crash) for bananas, beans and pulses. We particularly like homemade hummus with vegetables or banana with a little peanut butter.
When we want to feel comfortable or soothed, we reach for snacks to help take our mind off things or to relax. In more extreme cases, comfort eating occurs in response to sadness, anxiety and fear. When we think of comfort we often think of intensely sense-stimulating foods like warm chocolate brownies or sweet-tasting biscuits and usually foods that are high in both fat and sugar. Experts have examined both genders and have found that women may be more easily susceptible to comfort-eating and display weaker willpower when faced with cravings, though every person differs.
How to beat it: Ice cream and chocolate is not going to mend anything, so opt for wholegrain, healthy carbohydrates that will deliver a hug from within. Spelt pasta, sourdough bread and brown rice will help elevate your mood and restore your inner balance.
Everyone deserves a reward and #CheatDay can be a marvellous thing. Once you’ve finished a project, tackled a tough boardroom session or run your first marathon, you’re likely to treat yourself with something edible. This is often carried through from childhood where kids are treated with sweets and special sugary foods to keep them quiet or to show affection. As adults, there’s no one but ourselves policing how often we self-treat.
How to beat it: Associating food with completing tasks is risky business. Book yourself a spa treatment or take an hour for a hair shape-up to make you feel brand new and pampered, rather than risking your waistline or heart health. If you must reward with food, grab a sweet piece of fruit like summer strawberries or sharp pineapple – make sure they’re always at arm’s length with a Fruit People delivery to your office every week!
You have to eat several times a day, so we often break up a dull day by focusing on food and idly snacking to pass time. Try to stick to specific times of the day to snack, rather than when the moment dictates, that way you have consistent control of your blood sugar levels rather than them controlling you and grabbing you at an uneventful part of the day.
How to beat it: Don’t let yourself sit idly and wait for a craving to crop up. Go take a brisk walk outside or run up and down the stairs to keep your mind alert, focused and free from food thoughts when you’re really not even hungry yet.
In certain cases, the body does crave what it’s telling you it needs, so be smart and listen to your body but also question it. Eat healthy, nutritious and balanced meals at regular times and then keep snacks to fruit, high proteins like beef jerky or handfuls of nuts and seeds and always stop to ask yourself – why am I craving snacks?