Don't eat mindlessly, be a smart snacker

HIGHLIGHTS
  • It can be a perfect way of incorporating often missed out nutrients to our daily diet.
  • It is always better to opt for truly baked, healthy and wholesome snacks.
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Snacking is not a mindless pursuit. And unlike universally thought, it is not devoid of benefits. In fact, if done right, it can be a perfect way of incorporating important, often missed out nutrients to our daily diet. But for that to happen you need to become a smart snacker. It's a skill easily learned, as long as you master and follow the essential smart snacking rules.

Ensure that you choose to eat only those snacks that are made from right ingredients. This, in fact, is an accurate way of ensuring that the nutrients we need are added to our diet. A few of such ingredients include Kaala Channa, nuts like almond, cashews and seeds, olive oil and whole grains.

Kaala Channa, a nutrition powerhouse, delivers a lot of fibre that helps regulate our blood sugar and is also loaded with nutrients that help save us from seasonal disorders by boosting our immunity.

The easiest way to get a stockpile of multiple vitamins and minerals, even difficult to find trace minerals, is to eat snacks that have nuts and seeds added liberally to them. Besides, they also deliver high levels of essential fatty acids (EFA's), wholesome fibre, and much needed good quality protein (with all essential amino acids). My personal favourites are almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds and sesame seeds.

It is always better to opt for truly baked, healthy and wholesome snacks as they are actually good for you. In fact, one of the best ways to lower fat consumption is to switch from deep fried snacks to baked snacks as they will help you keep both the calories and fat consumption down easily.

Pick up snacks made in olive oil, as this is the smartest way to ensure omega 3 and to correct the good vs bad fat imbalance in our diet. It is the best way to keep our digestion humming along, keep constipation away and to keep cravings away. A snack made with whole grains (ragi, wheat, oats, jowar, amaranth, bajra etc) is the best way to add nutrition to our diet and stay full for longer too.

Make snacking a conscious activity. It is essential that we not only snack smart but also pick and select the snack smartly. So, wizen up to the misleading marketing messages and avoid snack packs that don't deliver what is promised on the face of their pack.

Look out for promises and phrases like 'fat-free,' 'low in calories,' and 'lite' snacks. Don't take them on face value. All it takes is flipping the pack to the back and reading all ingredients, their proportions, style of making to understand the health and calorie quotient of the snack.

Don't think of snacks as extras, instead consciously work healthy bites into your diet, and make some smart snacks a part of your food plan for the day. This way they will work for you constructively. Finally, always focus on eating snacks that deliver something extra (yes more than just satisfaction and calories). That way you add value to your daily diet via the snacks that you eat and score some health along the way.

Focus on clean label. Consumers and regulators continue to put new pressures on food manufacturers, asking for even more information on the label. Consumers want to know the origin of their food. Food transparency strategies are now critical elements of the industry - no longer optional.

Many varieties of snacks and breads sold in supermarkets have taken a huge hit in recent years as consumers are shifting to more health and wellness foods. More gluten-free and clean-label baked formulations are cropping up in stores, thanks to consumer demand for more transparent options that are convenient and more nutritious.

(With inputs from renowned nutritionist Kavita Devgan and Shikha Sharma, a dietician based out of Delhi)

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