It’s 3pm. You were a good girl and had your important brekkie followed by a nutritious lunch, but now those two meals seem like forever ago. The craving for a snack is sneaking up on you and you’re in danger of downing another cuppa java or worse, munching on a cookie for a sugar rush. DON’T DO IT.

What you don’t need right now are empty calories. What you do need is to fill your belly and fuel your brain. So what should you snack on mid-afternoon or anytime?

No matter the season, it’s always the right time to examine your biggest afternoon snacking mistakes and listen to an expert’s take on the tastiest get-me-through-the-day treats. We’re talking healthy snacks that will satisfy those hunger pangs but will also boost brain power, productivity and sustained energy—just what you need to tide you over ’til dinner.

According to registered dietitian Abbey Sharp, when you get that “hangry” feeling, you need to nourish both body and brain. The secret? Plan ahead by keeping on hand healthy snacks that combine the hunger-crushing combo of protein and slow-burning carbs that still taste delicious enough to satisfy your sweet or salty cravings.

But first, you need to avoid these snacking mistakes.

THE BRAZEN HEALTHY SNACKING PRIMER

Step 1: Avoid These 3 Common Snacking Mistakes

#1 Skipping or Delaying

Starving your brain and your body causes low energy, reduced productivity and may trigger overeating later in the day.

Solution: Plan ahead so a snack is not missed or leaving you grabbing something with little or no nutritional value.

#2 Only Having Protein

Many people fear carbs, but by eliminating them, your blood sugar will plummet and make you feel tired and unfocused.

Solution: Don’t fear carbs, embrace healthy ones to manage blood sugar and satisfy your brain.

#3 Eating Carbs Alone

Most favourite convenient snacks are carbs alone that don’t provide the sustained fullness we get from protein.

Solution: Pair your carb (grain, starch, fruit or veggie) with a protein that provides sustained energy and keeps you fuller longer. The protein helps to slow the release of sugar (from carb) into the blood stream, which prevents a big insulin spike that causes energy crash and craving for another snack.

Step 2: Think Twice before Eating These

Keep these tips in mind when choosing snacks to beat your mid-afternoon slump:

  • To beat the 3pm slump, you need to find convenient snacks that help manage our blood sugar. Move away from rapidly digested refined carbs to slow releasing ones and mixing them with protein to achieve long lasting energy and fullness.
  • Many snacks including potato chips, granola bars and high-carb energy bars are rapidly digested (high glycemic) and provide a temporary lift of energy that fades and leaves you hungry again soon.
  • Choosing snacks that are low on the Glycemic Index (Low GI) means that their carbohydrates can be released slowly into the bloodstream as energy to provide long lasting energy and satiety without the 3 PM crash.

Eat This: 5 Healthy Snacking Superstars

The best snacks are convenient, nutritionally balanced snacks and combine ‘healthy’ carbs (slow releasing) with a source of protein. Here are the top five choices.

1. Low Glycemic Energy Bars such as SoLo Gi

These yummy treats provide a mix of protein with slow releasing carbs and fibre as well as exceptional bar flavours from apple cinnamon and yogurt to chocolate and nuts. Healthy Snacking Tips: Low GI bars like SOLO Eat ’em and feel the energy boost.

2. A Latte

For coffee lovers, this is a real treat. A small regular or decaf latte (or tea latte) supplies more protein than an egg. The milk is a natural source of protein and carbs. Bonus: No added sugar! And a little extra calcium? We need that about now.

Healthy Snacking Tips: Try a Latte3. A Handful of Nuts and Dried Fruit

All nuts and seeds are good choices that supply protein along with your favourite fresh or dried unsweetened fruit. These are nice, healthy carbs. Good luck stopping at a few, though. So don’t take more than a handful at once.  Healthy Snacking Tips: a handful of dried fruits and nuts

4. Greek Yogurt Parfait

Yogurt parfaits made with fresh or frozen thawed berries and topped with a spoon of hemp hearts, chia seeds or ground flax seeds provide an ideal blend of needed protein and carbs. Delicious and nutritious. Best combo ever.  Healthy Snacking Tips: a Greek Yogurt Parfait

5. Hummus with Raw Veggies and Whole Grain Crackers

This is the perfect snack when you are looking for something crunchy and savoury that will supply both carbs and protein all at the same time. Loaded with nutrients, this plate can almost replace a meal.  Healthy Snacking Tips: Hummus with Raw Veggies Snacking Mistakes You're Probably Making

Registered Dietitian (RD) Abbey Sharp is a national food writer and blogger, TV and radio food and nutrition expert, spokesperson, recipe developer, YouTube host and the founder of Abbey’s Kitchen Inc. Her unique healthy eating philosophy is built on an understanding that a pleasurable relationship with food is essential to good health. 

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