Do you suffer from mid-afternoon sugar-itis? Are you stuck in an office with a chocolate box and vending machine?
Here are some healthy alternatives to satisfy the 3pm hunger pains without filling the body with sugary treats.
Most nuts – including walnuts, cashew nuts, pecans, brazil nuts, chestnuts and hazelnuts – contain monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and other compounds that influence blood cholesterol levels. Eating nuts on a regular basis has been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and presents a much better option than store bought muesli bars, which typically contain added sugar and other nasties. Although high in fat, if eaten as part of a healthy diet, nuts do not contribute to obesity. Just remember to keep to a small handful each day. When selecting your nuts steer clear of roasted and salted nuts, which can be high in added fats and salt. Opt instead for raw and unsalted varieties. Almonds and pistachios are my current faves..yum.
Tea’s health benefits are largely due to its high content of flavonoids, plant-derived compounds that are antioxidants. Green tea is the best food source of a group called catechins. The benefits of regularly sipping on a green tea include a reduced risk for heart disease and reduced hypertension. The antioxidants can help block the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol and improve artery function. Allow your tea to brew for three to five minutes to bring out its catechins. Decaffeinated, bottled ready-to-drink tea preparations, and instant teas have less of these compounds. Be aware that tea can impede the absorption of iron from. Sipping on tea between meals will counteract this problem. Sip on.
Fruit contains phytochemicals, or plant chemicals, which can help to protect you from some diseases and lower your risk of: Type 2 diabetes, stroke, hypertension and obesity. The recommended serving each day is two; very achievable when we consider that a serve of fruit equates to one medium piece, 2 small pieces of 1 cup canned (no added sugar).
To maximise nutrients and to avoid boredom, consume a variety of fruits. Try to buy fruits that are in season, organic, and choose for freshness and quality. Obtain a different combination of nutrients by putting a ‘rainbow’ of colours on your plate. My current fruits of choice are blueberries and mango…yum!
Veggies are low in calories and fats but contain good amounts of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre. These antioxidants help protect the human body from oxidant stress, diseases, and boost immunity. As part of a well-balanced diet, a high intake of vegetables can help reduce obesity, assist with maintaining a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Aim to eat at least five serves of vegetables each day, keeping in mind that a serve equates to approx one cup of raw salad vegetables or 1/2 cup of cooked. Like fruit, you will get the most health benefits and protection against disease if you eat a wide variety of vegetables. My go to options for 3pm slump include celery and carrot sticks with hummus or natural peanut butter. Try it!
An easy and tasty way to help you to meet your daily veggie and fruit quota is to sip on a smoothie at 3pm. If you are adding milk or yoghurt, it’s also a good way to get in a serve of dairy, all while feeling satisfied with your snack. To keep sugar in check, try to keep your smoothie to one or two parts fruit, and the rest from vegetables. Combine with either 100% organic coconut water (no added sugar), water, or your choice of low fat milk or Greek yoghurt. My current fave green smoothie (which I am sipping on as I type) combines mango, fresh mint, spinach leaves, chia seeds and water.