The Perfect Guide to Low Sugar Snacking
One of the major questions that I get asked by clients when I am changing their dietary habits is what about snacking? This is a big area that is often debated with some people saying that you should not snack in between meals and those that say you should eat every 2-3 hours. Whilst it is great to try and give a blanket statement for most people to follow, I personally am not a fan of that approach. We as humans are all individuals in every sense and this should also remain true for your nutritional intake. (if you are just looking for a list of low sugar snacks rather than the theory then skip right to the end of the post)
Even if you are following a similar dietary principle i.e. sugar free, LCHF etc. What your diet looks like for the day could and ultimately should look different from one person to the next. In an ideal world, snacking throughout the day should be kept to a minimum and used as and when the body needs. The problem with this of course is that there is a lot more involved than just simple hunger. This is where the difference between hedonic and homeostatic hunger comes into play.
Homeostatic hunger is the brains response to true hunger in that the body has a specific need for energy and proper nutrition. This is the stomach rumbling that we can often feel at certain times of the day when your body knows it normally gets food (NB this type of response can be very different in a keto adapted individual). Hedonic hunger is the brains drive to eat something purely to offer the body pleasure. This is the feeling of wanting to eat, having a desire for something or finding yourself dwelling on a particular food.
The desire to eat can often be exacerbated with certain social situations or emotional states as well. For example, many people associate sitting down to watch a film with having some popcorn or a pick n mix. Or if you have had a bad day at work or an argument with your spouse, you may find comfort in some ice cream or a large cookie. Whatever the reason or the trigger, your brain is making you want to eat something for reasons other than pure nutritional hunger.
Now we can see the difference in where our drive to eat is coming from, it is easy to see how it can throw you off your healthy eating. This is why as a starting strategy I get people to have a clear out of any foods that they may normally reach for. This is because sometimes no amount of will power can over ride the brains desire to eat.
This brings us back to the question then of to snack or not to snack? Having a completely no snacking zone can cause people over time to succumb to what your brain is desiring rather than requiring for the body (the hedonic vs homeostatic response) to eat. In order to work with the body though it is good to first establish what kind of hunger you are feeling, practice some short mindful strategies and then having a stock of low sugar snacks to hand should that not work.
When choosing your snacks, the best option will depend on your specific macronutrient goals so always be sure to check and add this in. If you are someone just following low refined sugar and grain principles, then all of these snacks are suitable.
10 Low Sugar Sweet Snacks:
- 1 raw chocolate nut bar
- 1-2 squares of high quality dark chocolate (preferably 80% cocoa or higher) topped with 1 tsp of nut butter (can also be plain)
- 2 handfuls of berries topped with 3tbsp of cream or 3tbsp of full fat Greek/Natural yoghurt, sprinkled with cinnamon.
- 1 fatbomb (for the perfect selection of fat bombs check out this cookbook)
- 1 Adapt Your Life bar (only available in USA and South Africa)
- ¼ of an apple sliced and topped with almond butter
- Homemade FroYo from the amazing Libby at Ditch the Carbs
- 3-4 strawberries dipped in dark chocolate (allow the chocolate to cool before serving)
- 1-2 chocolate truffles
- Pineapple fritters with cream or natural yoghurt
10 Low Sugar Savoury Snacks:
- Meat roll up- 1 slice of cold meat (ham, parma ham, pastrami etc.) layered with 1 teaspoon of mayonnaise, 2 slices of cheese and 1 pickle or tomato and then rolled
- Homemade vegetable crisps
- Parmesan crisps with 2tbsp of homemade guacamole or salsa
- Seed crackers (these ones are from the amazing Sugar Free with Karen Thomson) with any choice of topping such as mashed avocado, cream cheese and salmon, cheese and coleslaw or simply with a little butter (have no more than 2-3 per snack)
- Fruit, nut and cheese snack plate- ¼ of an apple chopped, 30g of cheese cut into cubes and 1 handful of mixed nuts
- Celery sticks filled with cream cheese or hummus depending on sugar tolerance
- Tuna boats- Cut a medium sized cucumber in half. Spoon out the middle and fill with tuna mixed with olive oil or mayonnaise.
- Mini salami pizzas
- Rainbow vegetable selection with dip- peppers, celery, cucumber and carrots sliced into batons with dip such as salsa, sour cream or guacamole
- Salmon peppers- slice 1 pepper in half, spread cream cheese and then layer with smoked salmon. Sprinkle with dill or chives depending on taste preference