You've had lunch a couple of hours ago. When it is still a few hours to go before your next meal, how do you treat mid-meal hunger pangs? It can be really tempting to gorge on some biscuits, or chocolate or even head to the cafeteria for those fries. While you make every possible effort to shed those extra pounds and eat right at all times, it is these tempting pick-me-ups that could shake your entire health regime.
Nutritionists worldwide strongly recommend eating healthy snacks during the day, in addition to the standard three meals. Eating at regular intervals throughout the day helps maintain the body's sugar level and avoids cravings that lead to gorging on anything available. It is advisable that you do not leave a gap of more than three to four hours between meals/snacks. If you can plan and include healthy mid-meal snacks into your routine, you will be more cautious about what you eat and how many calories you consume. These are some healthy options to pick from:
- Yogurt - Yogurt is a great snack to have in between meals. It's tasty, easy, and inexpensive and has tons of benefits. Have plain yogurt with chopped fruits and honey or have flavoured yogurt. It gives your body "good bacteria". And since Yogurt is a milk product, eating it will make sure your body gets some animal protein too. It is rich with calcium, magnesium vitamin B-2, B-12 and potassium.
- Hot Chocolate - Chocolate, a snack food you ask. If taken in right proportion, chocolate is actually good for health. Dark chocolate has been found to benefit the heart. Irrespective of the weather, hot chocolate serves as a tasty option for between meals. To keep calorie intake to a minimum, make yours with skim milk, honey and some real cocoa powder. Crush a few pieces of dark chocolate in it.
- Roasted Nuts - Roasted nuts, dried cherries are your best pick for mid-morning snacking. Nuts are packed with protein and healthy oils that trick your stomach into feeling full. Cherries are sweet and full of antioxidants. Nuts are a good source for dietary fibre. They're fundamentally rich in iron, zinc, B group vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium and antioxidant compounds. Pick your favourites from walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, macadamias, pine nuts, pistachios, hazelnuts.
- Boiled Eggs - Eggs are power foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. Eggs are one of the rare foods in which Vitamin D is present naturally. Eggs help in healthy hair, nails and improved eye sight too. Research has shown that consuming eggs may prevent breast cancer. These oval-shaped wonder foods might seem small, but they bring with them large benefits. So, snack away.
- Fruits - If you can spare a little time in the morning before you leave for work and make yourself an assortment of cut fruits, there's nothing better. Pack yourself some variety. Mix papaya, melon, apple, oranges and some banana and carry it to work. Bananas will keep you full until your next big meal. If you like mangoes, pack them separately, mixing them with other fruits is not a good idea since they're the sweetest of them all. Or carry a whole apple. You can also opt for a fruit smoothie in any flavor, blueberry, banana, mango, strawberry, etc
- Sprouts - Another nutritious option to snack on are sprouts. Soak some lentils overnight and they're ready to eat the next morning. Add some lime, chopped tomatoes, roasted peanuts and coriander to make them tastier. If soaked sprouts seem too hard to eat for you, boil them and consume. They'll taste much softer with nutrients intact. The quality of beans, lentils, grains and seeds is improved when they are sprouted. These are fibrous and full of vitamins. Most importantly, sprouts have 100 times more enzymes in them, compared to uncooked fruits and veggies.
- Almond Butter - Almond butter is nothing but some almonds (raw or roasted) blended together in a food processor with some honey and sea salt. It's a great alternative for those who don't appreciate peanut butter. It serves as a tasty, healthful snack that can be eaten with whole wheat bread or fruits. It tastes fabulous when flavoured with vanilla or cinnamon. Just one teaspoonful of almond butter will give you more than 25% of your daily requirement of vitamin E.