Everyone gets snacky from time to time, with the space between meals seeming to stretch on endlessly. While snacking is by no means a problem, too often foods that are marketed as snacks are really unhealthy and don’t provide the right nutritional support. In the quest to improve the health of South Africans, Laager Rooibos has called on partner dietitian, Mbali Mapholi to share her guide on healthy – yet delicious – snacking!
“To perform at our best, we all need proper nourishment throughout the day, with the need for snacks often arising,” explained Mbali Mapholi, Laager Rooibos partner dietitian. “But it’s important to remember that fun food treats – for adults as well as children - are often high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and artificial additives, providing instant gratification but limited nutritional value. Healthy snacks, however, nourish by providing essential nutrients, fibre, and hydration to support children's growth and development. While treats provide enjoyment, it's important to understand that snacks play a crucial role in filling the nutrition gaps between meals.”
1. Healthy snack alternatives
Mapholi explained that snacks should be viewed as opportunities to provide nourishment, while treats should be offered occasionally to satisfy the desire for fun and enjoyment without replacing essential nourishment. She shares some healthy snack alternatives to sweet treats.
Fun Food Treats
|Chocolate chip cookies||Energy balls with dates and nuts|
|Potato or maize crisps||Homemade popcorn|
|Ice cream cones with toppings||Frozen yoghurt with fresh fruit and nuts|
|Milk chocolate bars||Dark chocolate squares or cacao nibs|
|Cold drink or soda||Homemade Tea4kidz Laager Rooibos flavoured teas|
|Sugary cereal||Homemade granola with dried fruits|
|Candy apple||Apple slices with nut butter (such as peanut butter)|
2. Snack portion sizes
Mapholi said that, when it comes to snacking, being mindful is key to maintaining a healthy relationship with food: “Mindful snacking involves being aware of your eating habits, making conscious choices, and paying attention to portion sizes. It's important to consider snack portion sizes for adults and children to avoid overindulgence and promote balanced nutrition.”
Snacking tips for children:
- Establish structured snack times to avoid continuous grazing and mindless snacking. Ensure snack time isn’t close to meal time, as snacking too close to a main meal can discourage children from eating their meals.
- Prepare snacks in advance and portion them into appropriate serving sizes to help children understand and control their intake.
- Provide a variety of snacks, such as a mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein-rich options to ensure a well-rounded snack that satisfies taste and nutritional needs. The variety may help with food freedom and improve the relationship with food.
- Teach children about portion sizes using visual references, such as comparing a serving of fruit to the size of their palm, or a handful of nuts as a portion.
Snacking tips for adults:
- Practice portion control by being mindful of serving sizes and avoiding eating straight from the package. Use small bowls or plates to help control portion sizes.
- Listen to your body's hunger and fullness cues before reaching for a snack. Are you truly hungry, is it boredom, or are you sad? Tune in to your body's signals to guide your snacking decisions.
- Choose nutrient-dense snacks with a balance of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats), rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre to keep you satisfied and nourished.
- Avoid distractions such as watching TV, scrolling through your phone, or working while snacking. Focus on the sensory experience of eating and fully enjoy your snack.
3. The Importance of healthy hydration
Besides eating, Mapholi said it’s important to distinguish between thirst and hunger cues so that you’re not snacking for the wrong reasons: “Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is beneficial to achieving optimal hydration. An excellent option is to include Laager Rooibos tea in your hydration routine. Laager Rooibos tea is a caffeine-free beverage naturally packed with antioxidants, making it an excellent choice for hydration.”
She suggests that, before reaching for a snack, it’s worth drinking a cup of Laager Rooibos tea (or iced tea in summer). Then wait 15 minutes to assess if you’re still hungry: “Thirst signals can sometimes be mistaken for hunger, so hydrating with Rooibos tea can help you determine your true appetite. Staying hydrated is important for maintaining optimal bodily functions”.
Mbali Mapholi’s Rooibos-infused energy balls
- In a food processor, blend the dates, nuts, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract until well combined.
- Add the cooled Rooibos tea gradually, and continue blending until the mixture forms a sticky dough.
- Scoop out small portions of the dough and roll them into bite-sized balls.
- If desired, roll the energy balls in desiccated coconut for extra flavour.
- Place the energy balls in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm up.
- Enjoy these delicious Rooibos-infused energy balls as a nutritious and satisfying snack!
Have you got it at home?
Candice Sessions, Laager Marketing Manager, said the inclusion of Laager Rooibos tea, or Tea4Kidz Rooibos for the younger ones, will go a long way in reducing unnecessary snacking: “Tea4Kidz Rooibos and Laager Rooibos are both naturally caffeine-free and sugar-free, while still retaining a welcome, naturally sweet flavour. By getting into the habit of hydrating with Rooibos tea or iced Rooibos tea, you’re able to keep your body well-hydrated and decrease that desire to snack on unhealthy foods. Tea4Kidz Rooibos and Laager Rooibos can also be included in a variety of recipes to create homemade, healthy snacks that will fill that gap between meals, while keeping adults and children healthy!”