Fuelling on the go

Snacking can be super healthy, but if a packet of crisps, a few biscuits or some other sweet confection/salty nibble is the go-to option in your household, it’s time for a snack makeover! 

Nutritional truths about snacking

Begin with the end in mind. The longer a food takes to eat then the more full you’ll feel – and the less likely you are to snack constantly between meals. So, at mealtimes, eat fibrous foods which will fill you up for longer, lessening the desire to snack. For example, a hearty bowl of porridge will reduce the desire for mid-morning munchies versus starting the day with a bowl of cornflakes. If you eat well at mealtimes, when you do snack, you are likely to make better choices too. 

Cravings can be brought on by many different factors. It could be stress or a swing in your mood, it could be fatigue, stress or a response to your blood sugar levels crashing. The trick is to keep you and the family’s blood sugar levels as stable as possible throughout the day. 

  • Don’t start the day off with a sugary breakfast, as it leads to an inevitable slump in energy later. For adults avoid the kick start of too much caffeine too, a little is fine, just don’t become dependent on it.  
  • Don’t mistake hunger for thirst. The feeling of thirst can often lead us to crave for more than water. Try getting into the habit of drinking a glass of water first, and then ask yourself (or your children) if you/they are still feeling ‘hungry’. 
  • Keep filled up on low-fat, high-protein, slow-release energy snacks. They help keep cravings at bay by making you feel fuller and more satisfied. 

Is it just habit?

We are all creatures of habit. If you always grab a cup of tea and a biscuit after dropping children at school or nursery, it doesn’t mean you should. For children that after-school time period is the most common for snack attacks - for parents it is an opportunity to get them to eat more fruit and veg rather than default to a biscuit or packet of crisps. Personally, I found that the rule of ‘have whatever snack you want as long as it is from the fruit bowl or vegetable box’ works really well before dinner. All too often an after school snack meant my children weren’t hungry enough to finish their dinner. For the record, my son now grabs a carrot and my daughter nibbles on fruit!

Mindful snacking

If you treat a snack more like a mini meal, you or your children are more likely to feel satisfied. How? Ideally serve it on a plate and sit down at the table. If that’s not practical at the very least, sit down to eat wherever you or your children are and don’t multitask. Clearly, this is very different from the snacking norms of discarding a wrapper into the nearest bin as we walk and talk! 

 Snack ideas

For slow-releasing energy, start with starchy carbohydrate

A couple of oatcakes or a slice of wholegrain bread will give you and your children the right kind of energy boost

Then add protein

Include a portion if you can. This helps to satisfy your appetite and keep you feeling fuller for longer. Good choices include tuna, cheese, chicken, lean meat, eggs.

Don’t forget vegetables

There’s no limit to the number of veggies you can add. They may not always be practical but some raw carrot sticks are an easy on-the-go option. Add different coloured vegetables for maximum health benefits. 

Next time you’re at the supermarket, invest in plenty of the following for ideal snacking foods:

  • avocados
  • carrots, peppers and celery (which you can make crudités with)
  • a tub of hummus or guacamole to dip those crudités into
  • oatcakes (Nairn’s ones come in individual packets which are perfect for on the go snacking)
  • mini cheeses or bite-sized cubes cut from a larger chunk of cheese
  • Easy to transport fruit such as apples, bananas, oranges, pears or plums
  • Eggs that can be hard-boiled and peeled for a more substantial snack  


Here are some simple and delicious ways to bring protein into your diet. 

Protein balls are expensive - try these DIY versions. Easy and delicious! 


Pecan pie protein ball
A warming combination of spices and nutritious nuts these balls are perfect comfort food as we go into autumn and winter.

80 g dried apricots
100 g toasted pecans
4 tbsp whole oats (use gluten free if necessary)
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ginger (ground)
¼ tsp cloves
¼ tsp nutmeg
4 dates

For coating:

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp flax seeds 

  1. Toast the pecans lightly in a dry medium hot pan for a few minutes
  2. Add pecans to a food processor and pulse for a few seconds to break up the nuts.
  3. Add in all the oats and spices and pulse until combined
  4. Add in the dried apricots and dates. Pulse together until you get a sticky dough. 
  5. On a plate mix the chia and flax seeds together. 
  6. Use your hands to roll the mixture into balls and roll the balls in the seed mixture.
  7. Store in the fridge


Superfood protein ball 

50 g gluten free oats
5 mint leaves
½ tsp ginger (ground or fresh)
2 tsp spirulina
4 tbsp flax seeds
1 tbsp manuka honey
5 dates

For coating:

1 tbsp Sesame seeds

 Add all ingredients in a food processor and mix until combined. Use your hands to roll into balls and roll the balls in the sesame seeds on a plate.


Low GI Oatcake topping ideas 

Marmalade, Goat’s cheese and roasted hazelnut  

Spread a thin layer of marmalade, top with two thin to medium slices of firm Goat’s cheese (or whichever cheese you prefer but mild works best) and top with a roasted hazelnut.

Nut butter and sliced banana

Spread a layer of your favourite nut butter (almond or cashew are always a favourite) and top with chopped banana. Caramelize the banana in a hot pan for extra sweetness.  

Mashed avocado with protein booster 

Mash some ripe avocado onto your favourite oatcake. Top with seeds or a chopped boiled egg for an extra protein boost. Sprinkle some chilli flakes for extra spice. 


So, whether you’re out and about and need a snack on the run, or need something quick to avoid you raiding the biscuit tin when you’re at home, there are plenty of simple, nutritious and delicious options that don’t need much preparation.  Or when you do have a bit of spare time, making your own protein balls or a healthy flapjack can be rewarding and fun. Upload some of your new favourite things on social #NaturallyEnergising and in our final challenge next week, we’ll be getting you some extra hands in the kitchen.  Have a great week!

Amanda Hamilton

About the author

Amanda Hamilton
Nutritionist and broadcaster

Amanda is one of the UK's most established nutritionists, with a career that has included three best-selling books (with a new title coming out in January), an internationally syndicated TV series and regular slots on BBC radio. She runs her signature detox and weight loss retreats in leading spas across Europe. But most of all, she's a busy working mum who is passionate about healthy, tasty and wholesome food.