healthy snacks, snack smart

By Melody Foo, Dietitian, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital

Is Snacking Healthy?

Whether a snack is considered healthy depends on the frequency, amount, calorie and type (FACT).

FrequencyFrequency refers to how often you are eating the snack. Excessive snacking even for healthy snacks can still lead to excessive calorie intake and weight gain.
AmountAmount refers to the portion sizes. Are you eating more than a handful of snack?
CalorieCalorie refers to the amount of energy the snack provides. As per Health Promotion Board’s (HPB) recommendation, opt for snacks which provide less than 100 calories per serve. Look out for snacks with the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS), which provides less than 100 calories per serve.
TypeType refers to how the snack is prepared. Opt for snacks that are steamed/grilled/baked/dry roasted.

Healthy Snack Ideas

Savoury Snacks
  • Select steamed options such as vegetable pau, har gow, chee cheong fun or popiah. Ask for less sweet sauce for the latter two to control your sugar intake.
  • Have a handful of baked/natural nuts, which are a source of good fats (unsaturated fats) and fibre.
  • Fancy something crunchy? Choose wholemeal crackers or plain rice crackers.
  • Grab a handful of steamed chickpeas. Not only are chickpeas low in fat, they are also high in fibre and protein.
Sweet Snacks
  • Steam a small piece of sweet potato to increase your intake of fibre, vitamin A and certain B vitamins.
  • Looking to end your meal with something sweet? Grab a fruit. Not only does the fruit provide you with fibre, it also boasts a range of vitamins and minerals.
  • Choose clear over cream based desserts to lower your fat intake. Examples include cheng teng and green bean soup.
  • Reach for a bowl of soya bean curd with less syrup, which is a source of protein and calcium.
  • Boost your fibre intake by having a slice of fruit bread.
  • Opt for a slice of plain sponge/chiffon cake over cream filled cake to lower your fat intake.
  • If you crave for something sweet and creamy, have a small tub of low-fat yoghurt filled with fresh fruits toppings. Besides providing you with calcium, yoghurt is also a source of protein.

Snacking Tips

  • Plan ahead. Have meals at regular timings to prevent overeating. If you are usually hungry at a particular time of the day, incorporate a healthy snack as part of your daily meal plan.
  • Out of sight, out of mind. Store your snacks at places that are inconvenient to reach.
  • Stock up your inventory with healthy snacks. This may help to prevent you from grabbing the most convenient snack which may be high in calories, especially when you are hungry.
  • Practice mindful eating to avoid unnecessary snacking due to boredom, stress or habit. Rate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being extremely hungry. If the score is 4 or more, it is likely that you are not really hungry.