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The snack is a food break made between the main meals. Snacking is not mandatory or essential, but it can be very helpful in different situations. To better understand the art of snacking, let's take a look at when and why it can be beneficial to have a snack, how to compose a balanced snack, as well as some ideas to inspire you.

When to have a snack?

A snack can be taken in the morning between breakfast and lunch, in the afternoon between lunch and dinner, and in the evening after dinner. When there is a long period of time between meals, usually more than 5 hours, snacks can help prevent low energy, irritability or headaches.

They can also help keep you going between meals and prevent excessive hunger at the next meal, which can sometimes lead to overeating or less healthy food choices. So, when we have a craving, it can be interesting to satisfy it and thus calm our cravings for either too much or poorly eating.

Snacks can also be consumed before a workout to refuel and after a workout to aid recovery.

Why have a snack

Snacking can help maintain a more stable energy level throughout the day and meet the increased needs of active people.

Snacks also help distribute food intake optimally throughout the day to meet energy and nutrient needs without having to overload main meals.

They can also help supplement meals and meet daily requirements for fruits, vegetables or dairy products and / or substitutes, which are sometimes absent or under-represented at main meals.

What foods to choose for a balanced snack?

A balanced snack includes nutritious, fresh, little or no processed foods.

In general, it is made up of a source of carbohydrates combined with a source of protein.

Carbohydrates provide energy quickly, while protein contributes to feelings of fullness and sustains you over a longer period of time (eg, until your next meal). The presence of fiber also contributes to the satiation provided by a snack.

For carbohydrates, consider favoring fruits, vegetables, whole grains, rich in fiber, and for proteins, favor low-fat dairy products and lean or vegetable proteins (eg: nuts, seeds, legumes). Finally, it is also best to limit the consumption of foods high in saturated fat, salt and refined sugars.

Some examples of balanced snacks

Here is a table that presents some ideas for balanced snacks that combine a source of carbohydrates and a source of protein. Then, it's up to you to make new combinations according to your preferences and needs.

 

Sources of carbohydrates

Sources of protein

Fruit

Yogurt

Dried fruits

Nuts and / or seeds

Raw vegetables

Hummus

Slice of whole grain bread

Cheese

Müesli

Soy milk

 

For an original idea of a balanced snack that's easy to carry, consider energy balls made from dried fruits and nuts, likethose of Fit-Fit. These energy balls have a short, simple ingredient list, and are no added sugar. They combine a source of carbohydrates in the form of dried fruits (e.g. dates, figs) and a source of protein in the form of nuts or seeds (e.g. hazelnuts, walnuts, chia seeds), which provide also good polyunsaturated fats (eg omega-3). Finally, dried fruits and nuts also contain fiber which contributes to satiation and can help regulate intestinal transit, lower cholesterol and better control blood sugar. And. They are so good !!!!!

 

If you are the type who fetch a sugary snack in the evening from the pantry, try to choose a snack that gives you a good source of carbohydrates in the afternoon. You might be less inclined to go grab some cookies or some ice cream before going to sleep!

 

Now that you know more about snacks, their purpose and how to compose them, it will be easier for you to integrate them into your daily life if you feel the need.

 

Article written by:

Marie-Noël Marsan, Nutritionist

 

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