This is an excerpt from a blog post originally written and published on The Simple Nutrition Blog in 2019.
I want to share some ideas for substantial, satisfying snacks – you know, the kind that actually fill you up and let you get on with your day until your next meal or snack.
You don’t necessarily have to eat snacks if you don’t want to – but most of us often need a snack between meals to keep us going throughout the day and if you are working through eating disorder recovery, they are likely to be a vital part of your meal plan. What I’ve noticed from working with clients and personal experience is that diet culture has done a number on us when it comes to snacks! How many articles have you read about ‘healthier’ snacking, urging you to go for the lowest calorie, air-based snack to kid yourself that you’ve had something to eat because how dare you actually eat something that will fill you up?! (FYI, eating ‘low calorie’ does not mean something is ‘healthier’.)
One of the principles of Intuitive Eating is ‘Honour Your Hunger’ – this is where I help clients to tune into their own internal hunger cues and start using them to guide their eating. We discuss actually eating something when we feel a gentle rumble in our tummies (or other subtle hunger signals) rather than chugging down a diet coke or scoffing a plain rice cake in an attempt to trick our bodies into thinking we’ve eaten something substantial an satisfying. From clinical experience, clients are usually really on board with eating proper meals but when it comes to snacks they can sometimes get a bit stuck, sometimes purely because they’re struggling for ideas.
When choosing a snack, it can be helpful to include a combination of the following food groups as this usually gives the snack more ‘sticking power’ and actually leaves you feeling satisfied;
- Grains: bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other cereals – provide your body with carbohydrate to give you energy throughout the day, and fibre if you choose some wholegrain varieties.
- Proteins: meat, fish, eggs, beans, dairy/alternatives – protein is pretty satiating (keeps you feeling full) and can give your snack that umami, meat-y, well-rounded feeling.
- Fats: nut butter, avocado, hummus, dairy/alternatives, fun foods – some of these foods provide calcium which supports bone and teeth health, fats which are important building blocks for various compounds within the body + can help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins from fruits and veggies … and they taste good!
- Fruit + veggies can be an added bonus! Ok let me explain this one – of course I’m in favour of eating fruits and veggies, but maybe consider whether eating only these as a snack is as satisfying or adequate – who else eats an apple and feels hungrier than when they started? Maybe try incorporating them with at least 1 or 2 of the other food groups (see below for some examples) to give the snack more sticking power.
To give you some examples, I have compiled a selection of snack ideas. You might also find it helpful to print out this list and stick it on the inside of your cupboard door so when the hunger pangs hit you know exactly what to rustle up for yourself.
Just as a quick FYI, this is not an exhaustive list, and it doesn’t contain any specific portions or measurements – this is on purpose – you know your body best! Try what you fancy and feel free to ditch the rest of the ideas! (If you are working on recovery from an eating disorder or disordered eating, it might actually be really helpful and important to have some guidance around minimum portion sizes. In this case, it’s a good idea to work with your dietitian on making this specific to you and your needs.)
- Hummus + oatcakes (maybe with veggie batons)
- Cheese + crackers
- Cheese on toast
- Toasted bagel with cheese spread
- Avocado on toast
- Cheese scone
- Halve an avocado and fill in the hole with tuna (+ seasoning/some oil/dressing)
- Mixed nuts + olives
- Potato/vegetable crisps + some cheese cubes
- Toast with nut butter + jam
- Pitta bread with guacamole + salsa
- Breadsticks + dip
- Mixed berries, melon chunks, or grapes with yogurt + some nuts/seeds
- A banana, apple or pear with nut butter
- A fruit yoghurt
- Nutella on toast with banana/strawberries
- A handful of home-made trail mix (combine assorted nuts, seeds, raisins or dried cranberries, choc chips etc.)
- A plain or fruit scone with butter
- A bowl of granola with milk
- Banana bread
- Granola or cereal bar
- Chocolate bar with a handful of nuts
- Malt loaf with butter
I also sometimes take a bit more time wandering round the supermarket to see which new snacks they have in for me to try! Again, this is not a prescriptive list – and be sure to include fun foods within your day too!
Feel free to share your favourite snacks in the comments below + happy snacking!