Hmmmmm, almost an oxymoron in the title there. Some medical professionals and nutritionists believe that ANY snacking is bad for you.
There have been studies to show that compared with three large meals a day, frequent snacks are more likely to cause cholesterol stores in the liver to rise along with the accumulation of harmful fat around the waist.
Constant snacking is certainly not desirable: the hormone insulin (which promotes fat storage and inhibits fat breakdown) will be released because you will never allow your body to enter a catabolic state by running down energy stores.
Some healthy snacking is essential
Despite this controversy – our view is that some snacking is essential, especially around workouts to boost both exercise performance and recovery. As long as you only snack around exercise in this way or in response to genuine hunger (not just boredom or stress), snacking is absolutely part of a healthy diet. It is far preferable than allowing yourself get too hungry (irrational) to stick to healthy food choices or normal portion sizes. Yes we have all been there – THAT starvation fuelled supermarket sweep where you become the proud owner of Aisle 3 and THAT meal where you arrive at a restaurant so hungry and sorry for yourself that you order a three course feast which doesn’t arrive (“how slow is this place?”) before you’ve demolished the entire bread basket and knocked back a few glasses of something other than water.
Snacking doesn’t have to be sweet
We think a lot of people go wrong with snacking by thinking solely of sweet treats. One thing I do at home is to make sure I always have raw crudités and lightly steamed veg (green beans and tenderstem broccoli keep well) ready in the fridge. I grab them if I’m leaving the house hungry. I put them in front of my children while they are waiting for their dinner. There are so many differing and often conflicting diets out there – but one thing is utterly non-controversial: eat more vegetables. Eating them like this in a raw or lightly cooked state preserves the most vitamins, minerals and fibre which means your body has to work harder to digest them. In case you aren’t interested in eating crudités on their own, this recipe is a simple fresh family friendly guacamole recipe that my Mexican friend Delia shared with me a while back. Avocados are one of the most nutritionally dense and nourishing things on the planet.
4 avocados, (no brown bits)
½ red onion, finely diced
1 large tomato, diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
Salt & pepper to taste
Fresh chilli, finely chopped, to taste
Mush the avocado with a potato mash. Squeeze the two limes into the avocado then stir in the onion, tomato and coriander. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you’re only serving adults, add finely chopped fresh chilli peppers to taste.
This is such a versatile recipe. You can serve it on rye toast with poached eggs for breakfast or with crudités, corn chips and crackers for snacking or entertaining. It won’t last beyond the day – despite the amount of lime, after 24 hours it will go brown. Not that I have ever had leftovers….