• Dr Sally Norton


Our grandmothers were actually spot-on when they told us we shouldn't eat between meals. They just didn't have that grazing mentality we have now..or the opportunity to pick up a tasty morsel at any time of the day or night, pretty much wherever we are.

And then there was the advice that crept in, that said we should eat little and often to avoid getting hungry if we want to keep our weight under control. That may have done us more harm than good. Several studies are now showing that eating less often, rather than grazing, may actually be better for us. Not just for our weight, but health-wise too.

But sometimes those hunger signals are too strong to ignore. In that case, how do you ensure that snacking doesn’t scupper your health or weight goals? Here are a few ideas...

Be prepared

Don’t let hunger catch you unawares – it’s then that you reach for a quick and easy fix like a chocolate bar from the office vending machine. Keep a healthy option to hand such as a piece of fruit in your desk drawer or your bag. It's also good to have a healthy snack to hand before you hit the supermarket....studies show that shopping hungry is a dead cert for an overladen trolley, full of those foods you may be better off without!

Be portion aware

Snacks are getting bigger and bigger – and manufacturers are duping us into buying ‘share-bags’ of crisps or ‘duo’ versions of chocolate bars. As if we ever actually share them. If you are reaching for a snack, make sure it is actually snack-sized!

Avoid sugar

We know that sugar is not our friend...but so many snacks are high in sugar. Steer clear if you can or the rapid rise in blood sugar, followed by a slump, will have you craving more of the same a few hours later. And even so-called healthy snacks can be high in sugar...often called 'natural' sugar. But honey and the like is still sugar. So watch out.


Think nutrients

Instead of a sugary snack, try something that does you some good too. Like a handful of almonds. Just 30g a day can reportedly reduce risk of heart disease and more….whilst keeping those hunger pangs at bay until dinner. Other ideas include a pot of hummus and some veg sticks or pure nut butter spread on apple slices or rice cakes.

Plain popcorn - not the sugar coated variety is also a good snack and there are loads of new, healthy brands popping up.

Be honest!

Snacks don’t count, right? I bet most of us don’t really remember the snacks that we had during the day, so they add up without us noticing. If you are having a snack, savour it, enjoy it - and count it as part of your daily intake.

If you are going to snack, develop some snack-savvy habits to make sure you don't sabotage your weight-loss efforts!