Snacking is not a mindless pursuit. And unlike universally thought, it is not devoid of benefits.
In fact, if done right, it can be a perfect way of incorporating important, often missed out nutrients to our daily diet. But for that to happen you need to become a smart snacker. Its a skill easily learnt, as long as you master and follow the two essential smart snacking rules.
Kavita Devgan, a renowned nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi, lays down the rules of healthy snacking:
* Ensure that you choose to eat only those snacks that are made from right ingredients. This, in fact, is an accurate way of ensuring that the nutrients we need are added to our diet. A few of my favourite ingredients include nuts like almonds, cashews and seeds, olive oil and whole grains.
* Kala Channa (black chickpeas), a nutrition powerhouse, delivers a lot of fibre that helps regulate our blood sugar and is also loaded with nutrients that help save us from seasonal disorders by boosting our immunity.
The easiest way to get a stockpile of multiple vitamins and minerals, even difficult to find trace minerals, is to eat snacks that have nuts and seeds added liberally to them. Besides they also deliver high levels of essential fatty acids (EFA's), wholesome fibre, and much needed good quality protein (with all essential amino acids). My personal favourites are almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds and sesame seeds.
* It is always better to opt for truly baked, healthy and wholesome snacks as they are actually good for you. In fact, one of the best ways to lower fat consumption is to switch from deep fried snacks to baked snacks as they will help you keep both the calories and fat consumption down easily.
* Pick up snacks made in olive oil, as this is the smartest way to ensure omega 3 and to correct the good vs bad fat imbalance in our diet. It is the best way to keep our digestion humming along, keep constipation away and to keep cravings away. A snack made with whole grains is the best way to add nutrition to our diet and stay full for longer too.
* Make snacking a conscious activity. Snack mindfully, not mindlessly. It is essential that we not only snack smart but we also pick and select our snack smartly. So, wizen up to the misleading marketing messages and avoid snack packs that don't deliver what is promised on the face of their pack.
* Look out for promises and phrases like Fat-Free, Low in Calories and Lite snacks. Don't take them on face value. All it takes is flipping the pack to the back and reading all ingredients, their proportions, style of making etc. to understand the health and calorie quotient of the snack you are picking up.
* Don't think of snacks as extras, instead consciously work healthy bites into your diet, and make some smart snacks a part of your food plan for the day. This way they will work for you constructively. Finally, always focus on eating snacks that deliver something extra (yes more than just satisfaction and calories). That way you add value to your daily diet via the snacks that you eat and score some health too along the way.