Snacking—nutritional powerhouse or indulgence? What defines the healthiest snack? We’ll cover all of these questions and more in this guide to balanced snacking, but first, let's demystify the term 'snack.'
A snack is any food consumed between meals. Typically, we get the urge to snack when our stomachs start rumbling a few hours after our last meal. Alternatively, it could be a solution to the notorious 3:00 PM energy slump or an answer to sweet and salty cravings. Most adults snack at least once a day, with research finding that snacks make up 10% of daily calorie intake. As for children, snacking is even more essential, making up 27% of their daily calorie intake.
Processed vs Whole Food Snacks
Although snacks can be a great addition to a healthy diet, many readily available packaged snacks are highly processed, devoid of nutritional value, and high in calories. For example, some of North America's most common snack foods include chips, cookies, ice cream, popcorn, candy, soft drinks, and baked goods. These are great examples of calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods that can leave us feeling sluggish and tired.
In addition, these hyper-palatable processed snacks are high in sugar, saturated fat, and sodium – making them highly addictive. Regular high intake of calorie-dense, nutrient-poor snacks could lead to excess calorie consumption, weight gain, and nutrient deficiencies.
Instead, we're on a mission to make snacks nutrient-dense – helping to keep you fuelled for longer so that you can approach your day with more sustained energy! Snack smarter with these tips for delicious, satiating, and nutrient-dense foods.
Essential Tips For Balanced Snacking
Blood sugar levels begin to dip 4-5 hours after eating, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead with snacks if your next meal will be hours away. Planning ahead with a healthy snack makes it easier to reach for nutrient-dense food when the cravings strike – instead of reaching for chips, cookies, or candy.
Pair Carbohydrates with Fat + Protein
Balance your snacks with a source of fiber, fat, and protein for long-lasting energy. This is the KEY to building any balanced snack or meal. Fiber, fat, and protein will slow the rate at which your body metabolizes carbohydrates – resulting in a gentle rise in blood sugar and more sustained energy throughout the day.
In contrast, a snack containing just carbohydrates will result in a rapid rise in blood sugar (giving you that boost of energy), followed by an unwanted energy crash – resulting in fatigue, cravings, and headaches.
Kick processed snacks
Choose whole foods instead! Once again – processed foods and snacks are high in saturated fat, sodium, sugar, and calories. Data collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in the US has shown that children aged 2 - 11 had insufficient intakes of calcium, vitamin D, fiber, and potassium and excess intakes of carbohydrates, sodium, and daily calories. (1)
Similarly in Canada, children aged 4-8 may not be meeting adequate intakes of vitamin D, calcium, potassium, and fiber. (2) This is a good indication that children in Canada and the US are snacking on processed foods, and therefore missing out on key nutrients.
Replacing processed snacks with nutrient-dense options is a great way to lower the risk of nutrient deficiencies in children while also helping to normalize daily calorie intake. Add in nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables as nutrient-dense snacks for healthier alternatives!
The Ultimate Balanced Sweet Snack
Nomz energy bites are the perfect balanced sweet snack for both adults and kids! With the texture of a fudgy brownie and the nutty, sweet taste of a decadent treat – it’s hard to believe our energy bites are nutrient-dense, free from refined sugar, and made with only a few pure, simple ingredients.
Every single bite of our mouthwatering energy bites is packed with healthy fats and protein making them a perfectly balanced snack – guaranteed to leave you feeling satisfied and refuelled.
Energy Bites Ingredient Benefits
- Provide key polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids that support cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and potentially reduce inflammation.
- Nuts are a good source of vitamin E, magnesium, fiber, and plant-based protein.
- Are low on the Glycemic Index (3)
- Contain fiber, which helps to slow gastric emptying, leading to a feeling of fullness. Adequate fiber intake is essential for blood sugar regulation, maintaining healthy digestion, and heart health.
- Source of antioxidants including flavenoids, carotenoids, and phenolic acid (4). These phytochemicals have many health benefits including helping to neutralize free radicals in the body, preventing oxidative damage.
- Source of potassium, copper, manganese, magnesium, niacin, pantothenic acid, calcium, phosphorus, and iron
Fair Trade Cocoa
- High in antioxidants including flavenoids and polyphenols
- Rich in theobromine – an alkaloid that provides sustained energy, and may help to lift your mood while also increasing blood flow
- Is obtained from evaporating seawater. As it is less processed than table salt, sea salt retains more nutrients – in the form of trace minerals!
By: Jasmine Ouellette, Certified Holistic Nutritionist