Eight snacks to beat the afternoon slump
You eat a healthy breakfast and lunch, but come the afternoon you're desperate for something sweet. Before you head to the vending machine for crisps or chocolate, try one of these 10 nutritious snacks instead. They'll give you a boost of energy - without causing your blood sugar levels to spike and then plummet – and keep you going until dinner time.
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1. Crunch some oat crackers
Crisps might be convenient, but all that fat and salt won't do your waistline any favours. Instead, opt for a few oat or spelt crackers with hummus or low-fat cottage cheese. Nairns oat crackers are high in fibre and full of complex carbohydrates, giving you a natural slow-release energy boost. Or try Dr Karg's Spelt Crackers for a satisfying crunch.
2. Nibble on some seeds
Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are packed with protein and fibre to keep hunger at bay and will give you an energy boost, without causing your blood sugar levels to dip. They're also high in iron, which helps prevent fatigue. For an even better boost, add some flaxseeds to the mix. Rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, they're good for keeping your brain healthy.
3. Go nuts for nuts
High in fibre, protein and good fats and packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, nuts release their energy slowly and are good for your heart. Snack on some walnuts, which are a good choice as they help to keep your brain sharp. Or nibble on some almonds, which are packed with vitamins B12 (to improve memory) vitamin E, zinc and blood sugar-regulating magnesium. Just stick to one small handful a day if you're watching your weight.
4. Have a banana
On the go and don't have time to buy a healthy snack? Keep an 'emergency' banana in the car, your desk at work, or your handbag. Bananas are a super convenient energy food and packed with potassium, which helps maintain normal blood pressure and heart function.
5. Yoghurt and blueberries
When only something sweet will do, try having half a cup of zero-fat natural Greek yoghurt topped with a handful of blueberries. The yoghurt is a good source of protein to fill you up, and blueberries are known to boost brain function and prevent memory loss. If you're hungry, add two tablespoons of toasted plain oats to the mix. Oats release their energy slowly and will help to stop hunger pangs until dinner time.
6. Quinoa salad
If carrot sticks and celery doesn't excite you, try making a big batch of quinoa salad with roasted vegetables (cook up some peppers, mushrooms red onion) and keep in the fridge. Quinoa is a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids your body needs, and releases its energy slowly. For extra taste, try adding fresh herbs, such as basil or parsley, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil.
7. Snack on fish
You might not think about eating fish for a snack, but its super healthy and great for boosting your brain power. Try having a wholewheat cracker covered with cream cheese and a few slices or smoked salmon, or have a tin of sardines. If you're out and about, grab a small pack of sushi for a filling and healthy snack.
8. Porridge power snack
Porridge is a great breakfast option – but it also makes a great snack. Consider keeping a few individual portion sachets or snack pots in your desk for when hunger strikes. Most can be made with boiling water or only take a few minutes in the microwave – making them a speedy option for when you're at work.