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Snack attack

It’s 3pm your stomach emits a violent growl that says, ‘what happened to lunch?’ Nutritionist Elizabeth Yarwood* explains why a quick fix fat-drenched morsel or brain-snapping sugary snack is not your best option.

According to a study by the Centre for Culinary Development (CCD), snacks are increasingly becoming time-savvy meal replacements, instead of the between-meal or after-work options they once were.

“Snacks are less and less the hunger soothing bridge between formal meals,” says CCD CEO Kimberley Egan. “They have become valuable gastronomical events in their own right.”
The good news is, snacking is now more acceptable than ever. The bad news? Some popular snack choices might actually be doing you more harm than good.

Research by Australian consumer magazine Choice has revealed only a handful of the hundreds of snack bars marketed as ‘healthy’ actually contain any real nutritional value. In fact, many were found to be loaded with high levels of sugar, salt and saturated fats, with one popular yoghurt and nut bar delivering even more kilojoules than a Mars Bar.

Further, most of the ‘fruit’ ingredients promoted in health bars come from a laboratory instead of an orchard, and so contain none of the beneficial nutrients found in real fruit.

For snacks to be a legitimate hunger bridge between meals, the CSIRO says they need to add to your daily nutritional requirements of fibre, calcium, vitamins or protein. It also suggests packaged options should be less than 600 kilojoules per serve.


Potato chips Rice crackers

with low-fat


Potato chips have a high fat and salt content, plus loads

of artificial flavourings. Rice crackers are a low-fat

alternative and deliver energy-boosting protein when

combined with ricotta or cottage cheese

Jelly lollies or

boiled sweets

Trail mix with

dried fruit, seeds

and nuts

The massive sugar hit in lollies sends your blood sugar

through the roof, then crashing through the floor. The

natural sugars in dried fruit are a better choice, while

raw nuts and seeds add protein

Chocolate bar Fruit salad with a

dollop of low-fat


Fruit is naturally sweet, without being full of sugar and fat.

A spoonful of yoghurt adds calcium and protein

Muesli, nut or

‘health’ bars

Bowl of plain

popcorn, or


crispbread with

peanut butter

Many muesli or nut bars are full of sugar and fat, with

few nutritional benefits. A bowl of plain popcorn or

wholegrain crispbread is high in fibre and vitamins


donut or slice

of cake

Fruit toast or


A piece of fruit toast or a light fruit scone is much higher

in fibre and lower in saturated fat than a slice of cake

or fried donut – and still deliciously tasty

Ice cream or

ice block

Tub of yoghurt or

frozen yoghurt

Yoghurt contains calcium, protein and a lower glycaemic

index than ice cream

Cream biscuit Carrot and

celery sticks with

hommus, tzatziki

or avocado dip

Vegie sticks deliver vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates,

while low-fat dips contain essential fats, protein and

calcium. Cream biscuits contain no nutrients and loads

of sugar and fat

Can of soft


Fresh fruit or

vegetable juice

Swapping the refined sugar in soft drinks with natural

vitamins and minerals of freshly squeezed juice still feels

just as sweet on the lips, but your teeth and bones will

thank you for it

*Elizabeth Yarwood is a degree qualified nutritionist who is passionate about using diet and nutrition to improve quality of life.