Diets are always believed to be a burden to women, but it is the year 2019 and men out there are being more conscious when it comes to their health and bodies.
Snacking is believed to be taboo and only leads to bulging bellies and man boobs. However, when making smart choices and sticking to portion sizes, snacking can be very beneficial for your overall health.
Frequent meals help regulate your blood sugar levels and prevents overeating later on. Skipping snacks can lead to big portions and convenient fast foods. Rather have 5-6 small meals a day and keep the portion sizes on track. These days there are a whole range of fast and convenient bars, shakes and snack packs for people on the go. Choose clean, fresh food as far as possible, as you don’t have to worry about hidden fats and sugars with these options. As in life, fail to plan and you will plan to fail. Meal prepping plays a very important role in the success of a healthy diet. Make sure you have healthy snacks close by for when hunger strikes unexpectedly and keep an alternative plan B in the top drawer of your desk…to avoid the vending machine. An apple travels and preps just as easily as a snack bar. It doesn’t have to be fancy or time-consuming – boil eggs over the weekend and keep them in the fridge, or braai some extra chicken breasts and steak to use during the week. Choose fresh fruits over dried options, as the sugar content is very high in dried fruits. Rather choose air-popped popcorn over chips and swop droë wors for biltong sticks.
Keep it balanced – high in fibre, healthy carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Try adding a protein portion to every snack, as this well help balance your glucose levels and keep you fuller for longer. A portion of fat will also help with satiety, but it is very important to choose a “good” fat and stick to the portion sizes. Choose whole wheat carbohydrate options and avoid refined carbohydrates (pastries, biscuits, pies) as far as possible. Think hummus or low-fat cottage cheese and veggie sticks or peanut butter and apple wedges.
Think snack not supper – so smaller portions. Be careful of portion sizes even though it might be seen as a “healthy” snack. Nuts do contain healthy fats that are beneficial to your health but are also loaded with kilojoules. In most cases 5 nuts are considered one fat portion – I repeat 5 nuts. Pre-pack your snacks so that you avoid the temptation of overeating later on.
Labels can be deceiving – yes, people lie! So, take extra caution to read beyond the “Health Bar”, “Reduced fat” and “Sugar-free” on the front of the wrapper. These are not always your healthier options and you will need to examine the ingredient list and check the label at the back. Scan the column that gives you the information per 100g. Low-fat options should be below 3g per 100g and low sugar option will be less than 5g per 100g. Compare brands and make sure the low-fat drinking yoghurt you choose next time isn’t loaded with sugar to make it taste half decent. Question convenience – instant options can be misleading and contain extra sugar and creamers. Not all bars and snack options are bad, just make sure to make an educated decision.
Drinks during the day (and over weekends) can add up to unnecessary empty calories, adding no nutrients to your diet what so ever. Drink plenty of fresh, clean water. You can liven it up by adding some lemon slices or juice and mint leaves to your water bottle (just the way you would garnish your gin on a Saturday afternoon). Try not to exceed more than 500 ml of artificially sweetened drinks. There are a few cordials available in stores that are rather refreshing. If you are going to having fruit juice, dilute it with an equal amount of water. If your cholesterol levels are raised, switch to low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Herbal teas and caffeine free drinks can also help to keep the cravings at bay until the next meal. Sports drinks should be reserved for marathon runners or pro athletes, as they are very high in sugar and energy.
Smoothies are another go-to snack – it is practical, quick and filling. Make sure you add a balanced mix into the blender, to as not to over do the sugar content. Chop up 1-2 fruits and add a vegetable serving to that. Mix in a protein source (protein powder of your choice) and a fat to help regulate the blood sugar levels. Think milk, plain yoghurt, nuts and nut butters; but again, be mindful of the serving sizes you use. Remember the “less is more” principal when it comes to smoothies.
So, next time the snack cart rolls through the office and you just can’t resist the temptation, make sure you choose the most fibre-rich, best-label looking snack you can find. Or be the change and ask them to stock some healthier alternatives by sharing a few ideas.