Go-to snacks dietitians carry in their bag

Written by

Eliza Baird APD

Feeling a bit snackish? You know that feeling when you’re a little hungry. There’s no need to ignore it. As a dietitian, Eliza Baird is a big fan of snacks and shares her thoughts on the topic.

They can play an important role in a balanced diet, if you choose the right ones. Snacks can even help you sneak more veggies into your day or bump up the vitamins and minerals you need, such as nibbling on trail mix with nuts and pepitas for extra iron or a yoghurt snack for more calcium.

Nutrition Australia research also shows high-quality snacks can help you maintain your energy levels throughout the day and avoid overeating at lunch and dinner. So, what makes a great snack?

Go-to snacks I carry in my bag

"I always make sure I have some easy-to-carry, high-quality snacks in my bag for those snackish moments", Eliza says.

If, like me, you’re constantly on the go, you might like to consider snacks that fit into small containers and don’t require refrigeration. Plus, they’re far less likely to get crushed in your bag or go soft or soggy!

Pack yourself a small container of mixed nuts, which are not only yummy, but will help you maintain a healthy weight and may even reduce your risk of heart disease. And they keep me going until dinner time. Bonus! You can mix things up, quite literally, by adding some berries and seeds to your nuts.

Other great options are chopped carrot sticks, or even a mini tin of baked beans. Yes, you can eat baked beans cold and straight from the can. They are delicious, good for you and a tasty source of iron.

Thinking ahead

If you have slightly more time, you can prepare some delicious and healthy snacks in advance.

I love to whip up a batch of peanut butter protein balls. These are so yummy and satisfying. You can also add other ingredients you have in the pantry, such as cranberries, pitted dates, dark chocolate or Weet-BixTM!

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Homemade popcorn also makes a simple, yummy and affordable snack. I’m not talking that butter-laden popcorn you get at the cinema or in those microwavable pouches. You can make your own popcorn with just a little olive oil and some popcorn kernels. Pop the kernels using a pot on the stove and then store the popcorn in small, air-tight containers for a great snack or lunchbox item. To jazz it up, try tossing the popcorn in cinnamon or, for a slightly spicier kick, a sprinkle of chilli powder or smoked paprika.

While we’re talking homemade, pikelets or mini muffins are other great snack options. And there are so, so many options to choose from. Here are four recipes you might like to try:

Playing it cool

If you have access to a fridge, you can further expand your daily snack repertoire. Try ½ a cup of high-protein Greek yoghurt with a drizzle of almond spread and topped with some blueberries. Yum! If you’re after an even sweeter hit, you can add some honey.

For a snack that delivers a nutrient punch, try some hummus with vegetable sticks - carrots, cucumber, capsicum, celery - or wholegrain crackers. It’s a delicious and easy way to get plant protein, fibre and more veggies into your snacks. And hummus is so easy to make at home. Give these recipes a try:

Listen to your body

Ever found yourself reaching for a snack in the afternoon because you’re bored or tired? You’re not alone. While snacking on nutritious foods can be part of a healthy diet, eating when you’re not hungry could see you consume more kilojoules than your body needs.

Before you grab a snack, try checking in with your body first to get a gauge of your hunger levels. Ask yourself ‘am I hungry?’ or am ‘I just bored, tired, or upset?’ If you're not hungry, think about ways that you can honour your feelings without food, like chatting to a friend or colleague, or going for a quick walk.

Do you have a diet question? Or have you seen a nutrition study and wondered about what it means? We’d love to hear from you.

Contact our team of expert dietitians by using the free Ask a Dietitian service - online form here, or you can email or call on 0800 673 392.