The Science of Snacking: What happens at 3pm? May 7, 2019

by Rose Eat

If you like to nosh on something sweet or salty between major meals, you’re not alone! There are throngs of snackers across Australia – so, whether you’re a biscuit and tea type, a vending machine bandit or more of a hummus and carrot stick type, we’ve got the answer to why you feel the hunger pangs come 3pm!

snacking science

Why Do I Get Hungry in the Afternoon?

Why do we reach for a mid-afternoon snack? Is it actual hunger? Are we just bored? Was our last meal inadequate? Or have we just been tempted by an ad, some food porn on Instagram or by the colleague standing in front of us with a pack of biccies saying, “Go on, just have one!”?

Turns out, just thinking about food or catching a waft of food can kickstart the digestive process and get the taste buds tingling! Trust us – we’re catching wafts from the HelloFresh test kitchen all day, every day!

If you find yourself feeling peckish, even without any external stimuli, chances are you probably fall into one of the below criteria. We checked in with our resident Dietitian for some answers and this is what she said:

Some of the common reasons you might be feeling hunger pangs in the afternoon include…

  • Not eating enough protein at lunchtime or breakfast
  • Eating high GI, refined carbohydrates
  • Not having enough fibre
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Not drinking enough water

So, when hunger strikes, what’s the best approach?! Succumb to the hunger pangs and grab a snack? Let your tummy rumble until dinnertime? Or is there another option?

snacking science

This is what our Head of Culinary and Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Hannah Gilbert recommends;

Aim for a balance at meal times

Perhaps it’s time to tweak your approach to lunch?! It’s important that at each meal you’re having good balance of veggies, lean protein and a good quality carb. The right balance of these nutrients means you’re more likely to remain satiated until your next meal and less likely to suffer from hunger pangs in between! Unfortunately, your usual grab-n-go sushi roll, easy fix tuna salad, or the leftover pasta is unlikely to be ticking the balance box.

The easiest way to up your lunchtime ante is to make sure you include a good quality, wholegrain carbohydrate (i.e. brown rice, wholegrain bread or crackers, or a legume like lentils), some lean protein (e.g. chicken, tuna, chickpeas, egg) and a good serving of vegetables. This might sound daunting but a chicken and salad sandwich on wholemeal bread ticks all of the above boxes, as does a tuna salad with some wholegrain crackers!

snacking science

Healthy and Quick Afternoon Snack Ideas

If you do feel the urge to have a nibble at snack time, steer straight for a healthier option. By preparing your own snacks at the start of the week, you always have something safe to grab whenever those hunger pangs do strike. Begin by stocking up on some basic snack building ingredients:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Nut butters
  • Oats
  • Dried fruit
  • Frozen berries
  • Hummus and guacamole
  • Low-fat dairy products including natural yoghurt and cottage cheese
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Canned fish
  • Canned beans

From here, you can go snack-wild with the combination possibilities. Toss in your favourite or seasonally fresh veggies and fruits for that fibre you need to stay alert longer. Ideas of quick and balanced snacks you can create with the above-mentioned items as the base include:

  • Hummus or cottage cheese smeared on a whole wheat cracker or enjoyed with some fresh veggie sticks.
  • A fresh fruit smoothie made with fresh fruit, yoghurt and milk of your choosing.
  • Canned tuna or salmon on whole wheat crackers
  • Overnight oats topped with yoghurt and fresh or frozen berries

snacking science

Add these snacks in any combination to your snacking repertoire for those days when you need a little more sustenance than usual. Why not start with our Snack Box here?

 

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