By Mary du Heaume – Dietitian APD, HBF Member Health Coach

Muesli Bar

A recent finding, from the National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey found that many Australians consume over one third (35%) of their energy from discretionary foods.

In other words, these are the foods that are not essential in providing our daily nutrient requirements. They are often high in energy, salt, fat and sugar.  Many discretionary foods can be classed as “snacks” – including cakes, muffins, sweet and savoury biscuits, fried chips, soft drinks and alcohol.

It’s clear to see why snacking is a real issue for health and weight management.

The healthy way to snack

Here are five tips for keeping it healthy with snacks in your day:

1. Aim for no more than 400kJ per snack if having three per day; or no more than 600kJ per snack if having two per day.

2. Make the snacks count nutritionally by choosing from the core food groups. Some great options are:

  • Fruit – dried, canned, or fresh
  • Nuts (just a handful) – these are packed with healthy oils, fibre and nutrients
  • Vegetables – pair with a healthy dip such as salsa, hummus or some low fat cheese
  • Wholegrain bread – combine with peanut butter
  • Milk or low fat yoghurt  – go with natural and add your own fruit

3. Remember that snacks add to your total energy intake for the day.  So, for good weight management you may need to adjust the serving size of your main meals. A great way to have more volume is to enjoy plenty of colourful vegetables – go and fill half your plate!

4. Limit processed snack foods that are high in added sugar, fat and salt. Check the nutrition panel to ensure the energy content per serve sits in the range of 400 – 600kJ.

5. A great pre-exercise snack is the banana – prepacked and portioned out for you, this is nature’s power bar

The content of this article is not tailored for any particular individual’s circumstances. The author does not take into account your physical condition, medical history or any medication you may be taking. Any advice or information provided by the author cannot replace the advice of your health care professional. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent those of HBF unless clearly indicated.