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I am Louise O'Driscoll, founder of Natural Balance. I am a Certified Eating Psychology Coach, helping people find their way to a healthy and happy relationship with food and body.

Change One Thing - Snacks

By louiseodriscoll, Nov 17 2014 09:00AM

The subject of snacks is often a controversial one when it comes to diet and nutrition. Many experts insist that a 'no snacking' approach is the best, or even only, way to maintain a healthy weight and rhythm for your body. Personally I am a big believer in working with the natural rhythms of our bodies, that essentially demand we eat three meals at regular intervals throughout the day. I can also see how this can optimise our digestion and metabolism and undoubtedly avoid excessive consumption of highly processed, high sugar foods that typically fit the 'snack' description. But for me, and for many clients, trying to avoid any snacking through the day becomes a willpower battle and creates a feeling of deprivation, which is distracting and more problematically, all too often leads to overeating, whether because of losing that willpower battle and succumbing to a family sized bar of dairy milk, or simply being so ravenously hungry when it gets to mealtime that we eat too quickly and too much. Intuitive Eating means finding what works best for your own body and working with it, rather than blindly following a set of rules set out by someone else.

My own experience with this has taught me that, even if I have eaten plenty of good food at breakfast and lunchtime, I always feel hungry at around 4pm. This is perfectly understandable in terms of bodily rhythms, it is when our metabolism tends to be at its lowest during daylight hours, so we may feel sluggish and in need of an energy boost. And the first thing our bodies tell us to seek out when we need energy is sugar! When this hunger hits me, I am aware that I could probably hold out until maybe 6pm for dinner, but the way we live means that my husband and I don't manage to sit down for dinner until closer to 9pm. In my mind, the shared experience of enjoying a delicious meal together and chatting about our day is more valuable for our health and relationship than fitting a fixed schedule for meals purely for health reasons. Health is about more than just diet after all! So I now accept that I need to eat something between 4-5pm and often I will treat it as a mini meal, or even the dessert I would have had with my dinner, but earlier. What I want readers to try this week is to look at a snack, whenever it is, more in this way and to replace one snack a day of the likes of biscuits, cakes or sweets with something with some good fat and if possible, some protein. Here are some suggestions

- banana or apple slices spread with a little nut butter

- crudites and houmous and maybe some olives

- a small slice of sourdough or seeded bread with half a mashed avocado (and chilli if you like)

- some full fat Greek yoghurt with berries and a drizzle of honey

- some oat cakes and cheese

- berries and raw nuts

- a good quality protein shake (pea protein is excellent) made with any milk you like, with added banana and honey and a teaspoon of nut butter

- a green smoothie with chia seeds

- energy balls made with dates, almond and cacao or nut butter and tahini

- a coffee (if it works for you) and a few squares of dark chocolate

Give this a go for a week and see how it affects you generally, in particular how you enjoy the different snack, and also how alert and satiated you feel afterwards and for how long, and how your mood and concentration may be different!

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