‘What should I snack on if I get hungry?’ is a question that often comes up in my nutrition clinic. So much so that I thought it worth pulling my thoughts together in this blog post.
When you work on your diet as a whole, your cravings and energy levels will come back into line if you focus on eating real food, always having a source of protein and plenty of veg and scaling back starchy carbs. While your energy levels rebalance themselves, it can be helpful to have a small, snack to keep your blood sugar levels balanced. There are other reasons you snack, too, like having very long gaps between meals. As a nutritional therapist, I want to make sure any snacks you do have are the best ones for your health. Sadly, many of ready-made snacks, while they pretend to be healthy, are filled with high-sugar dried fruits (which can upset your blood sugar levels) or additives, so assemble your own where you can.
By definition, snacks are small. They are not intended to be the size of an actual meal, so take note of the portion sizes included here. TIP: if you’re eating from a larger packet – say, nuts or popcorn, take out only a snack portion, transfer to a small container and put the rest of the bag back in the cupboard for another time.
As you plan your snacks, try to pair a complex carbohydrate with a protein and a fat. Carbs alone will trigger a blood sugar spike. Adding the protein and fat will help you feel satisfied longer.
Here are some of my favorite PCOS Friendly Snack options:
Nuts are an ideal snack and perfect for taking on the go. They’re high in healthy fats and naturally filling. Throw in a few seeds if you like, too. Snack size: a small handful.
2, MIXED BERRIES, CARROTS AND PEPPERS
3. OATCAKES WITH TOPPING
A couple of oatcakes topped with unsweetened nut butter, hummus, guacamole, taramasalata, cream cheese and cucumber, smoked mackerel paté or cottage cheese and cucumber is a tasty option. Snack size: 2 oatcakes spread with your choice of topping – slices of smoked salmon, ½ a small tub of hummus (150g), 1 tablespoon of guacamole, cream cheese, taramasalata or nut butter.
4. STUFFED CELERY STICKS
The natural shape of celery makes it perfect for stuffing. Find your own favourite filling, such as cream cheese or unsweetened almond butter. Snack size: 1 celery stick + 1 tablespoon cream cheese or nut butter.
5. HUMMUS WITH CRUDITÉS
This lovely chickpea dip with your choice of chopped cucumber, red pepper or celery is a snacking favourite. Chickpeas are a great source of vegetarian protein & fiber-packed complex carbohydrate, helpful for rebalancing hormones, too. Snack size: as many veggie sticks as you fancy + ½ a small tub of hummus (150g).
6. AVOCADO WITH SEEDS
The healthy fats in avocado help stave off cravings. Sprinkled with an oil and vinegar dressing, plus some toasted pine nuts (or a seed mix) it feels like a delicious treat. Snack size: ½ an avocado + a small handful of pine nuts or seeds.
7. MISO SOUP
A lovely savoury addition to your diet is miso. Tasty and helpful for female hormone balance. Team with an oatcake, and it really does feel like a complete mini meal. Snack size: 1 mug instant miso soup + 1 oatcake.