There are two groups of people: those who snack, and those who don’t. If you’re a snacker, I’m right there with you. If you don’t snack, that’s ok, but I hope it’s not because you’re stuck on the myth that snacking is bad. When done well (read: balanced), snacks can and should be part of a healthy diet. If you’re looking for help creating healthy snacks as well as easy vegan snacks ideas, you’re in the right place.
Snacks are so much more than just something to munch on at your desk in the middle of the day. There are benefits to snacks that go beyond just something to eat. Personally, I’m a snacker, but as a dietitian, I actually encourage snacking! Here’s why.
Provide more eating opportunities throughout the day
If you’re trying to get more of a specific nutrient in your diet (like iron, calcium, protein, fibre), it can be hard to get enough from meals alone. Having 1-3 snacks a day offers more opportunities to get more of that nutrient in. Just make sure that your snacks include a food source of the nutrient you’re looking to get more of.
Tide us over between meals.
Ideally, we don’t want to go longer than 4-6 hours without eating. If our meals are spaced longer than this, try adding a snack to keep you from getting too hungry.
If you eat breakfast really early, it may mean you have a morning snack. Or if you eat lunch around noon, and dinner around 7 or 8pm, chances are you’ll need an afternoon snack. And for some people, if they have an early dinner, and don’t go to bed until late, you might need an evening snack. Additionally, if you have diabetes or take certain medications, a snack before bed is often encouraged.
Can prevent us from overeating.
If we go too long without eating, and we get to our next meal ‘starving’, chances are pretty good we’ll end up eating more than we needed, or wanted to. It’s hard to make rational food choices and be mindful of portion sizes when we haven’t eaten in eight hours.
Having a balanced snack in the middle of the day, will help us feel satisfied, and allows us to make better choices and feel more in control around food at our next meal.
Better fuelled workouts.
While eating before a workout isn’t for everyone, you may find that you feel better and have more energy if you’re properly fueled. Having a small carbohydrate-based snack about 1-3 hours before your workout will give you the fuel to crush it!
Snacks high in fibre or fat are not the way to go before exercise. They take longer to digest, so they might leave you feeling too full during your workout. Afterwards, be sure to replenish with a good source of protein and carbohydrates within an hour or so of completion.
More stable blood sugars.
If you’ve experienced the 3pm slump, an afternoon snack might be the answer to your problem. There can be a variety of reasons why we get tired in the afternoon, but a dip in our blood sugars is a common one.
When we eat a meal, especially one with more carbohydrates in it, our blood sugars rise. Totally normal. As time goes on, our blood sugar starts to go down. Again totally normal. However, if it goes down too quickly (aka crashes), we start feeling hangry and all the symptoms that go with it. Adding a snack around this time, ideally before you start feeling sluggish, may help energize your afternoons.
How to build easy vegan snacks
When it comes to building a healthy, balanced snack, aim to include a source of protein and/or fibre in your snack. These nutrients are slower digested, and will keep you feeling full for longer.
Remember that not every snack needs to be ‘perfect’ and balanced. As long as most of them follow these guidelines, you’re good to go.
Here are some protein foods:
- Roasted chickpeas
- Nut butter
- Protein bar
- Protein powder
- Beans, lentils, chickpeas
- Soy milk
- Hemp hearts
If you want to learn more about plant-based proteins – what foods provide protein and how much – check out this blog post.
Here are some fibre foods:
- Fresh or dried fruit
- Whole grain granola bars or cereals
- Whole grain crackers or bread
- Beans, lentils, chickpeas
- Chia seeds
Here are some ideas of easy vegan snacks:
- Whole grain bread with nut butter, sprinkled with hemp hearts
- Popcorn sprinkled with nutritional yeast
- Glass of chocolate soy milk with fresh fruit
- Dried fruit & nuts
- Bowl of whole grain cereal with soy milk (or add protein powder to a different type of plant milk)
Looking for even more easy vegan snacks? I’ve got just the thing. My Snack Guide & Recipe Book is your guide to building healthy snacks that keep you feeling full, and it includes 30 easy vegan snacks and recipes. Sweet or savoury, baked or raw, there is a snack in there just for you!
It’s completely free, and you can grab your copy right here.
If you want to learn more about me and what I do, follow me on social media. @harvesttablenutrition on IG and Facebook. Follow along for plant-based nutrition tips & tricks, recipe ideas and much more!