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.
|SWAP THIS||FOR THIS||WHY|
|Potato chips||Rice crackers
|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
|Trail mix with
dried fruit, seeds
|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
|Bowl of plain
|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
|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
|Tub of yoghurt or
|Yoghurt contains calcium, protein and a lower glycaemic
index than ice cream
|Cream biscuit||Carrot and
celery sticks with
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
|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.