When you're trying to do your body right and be healthy we know by now that means making sure our snacks are just as good to our bodies as our main meals. No point in having chicken and veggies for breakfast lunch and dinner when in between that you're scoffing down chocolates, biscuits and cake.
Most of us also know that healthy snacks aren't the be all and end all to healthy eating. Healthy snacks like nuts can be very calorific. But how do we know how calorie dense they can be (i.e. know what foods pack a heavy calorific punch despite their small - or large - size).
If this speaks to you and you're feeling a little lost and confused right now, Leanne Ward is here to save the day. Leanne is a clinical and sports dietitian, she is trying to educate followers on portion control between healthy foods and treats to show how easily the calories rack up when you're eating healthy snacks.
Why? Because it's usually this exact under-estimation that stops some of us (most of us) from reaching our weight loss goals. A bowl of almonds for example, weighs in at 415 calories, while a Twix contains just 275 calories. In an Instagram post pushing her message, she writes: "Double tap if you usually do 'generous' helpings of almonds straight from the bag."
"This picture is to demonstrate why I think it’s important to understand portions & serving sizes. So many of my clients can’t understand why they can't meet their weight loss goals despite #cleaneating or eating #healthyfood but this picture demonstrates that even healthy foods can be overeaten."
Clearly, almonds are way more nutritious than chocolate, and particularly if you're a plant-based eater, you need to make sure you're getting your fill of good fats your body actually needs (almonds are also rich in fibre, protein, vitamin E, manganese and magnesium).
While not everyone is eating nuts for the sole purpose of taking "good" holiday pics - if that's the case you can eat nuts aplenty (relatively speaking) - if you are trying to trim down, it can be dispiriting to find yourself plateauing, despite eating and exercising "right". Little diet tendencies like this may be the problem.
"A cup of almonds, four bananas or a few homemade bliss balls will still make you gain weight if eaten in excess of your bodies daily requirements," explains Leanne. "If you’re trying to lose weight, I recommend weighing or measuring your portions for a day or two to see how much you may 'overestimate' your portions without even realising."
She says that nuts, nut butters, seeds, avocados and oily fish like salmon are very healthy but also very energy dense, so unless your energy output is very high, eating them mindlessly is going to lead to fat increase. It’s all about moderation and balance, something Leanne is passionate about promoting. Otherwise, make sure working out accordingly so that you are in a calorie deficit if you're trying to lose weight.
"Healthy means still being able to enjoy your favourite foods and not punishing yourself with exercise. Being healthy means you can enjoy occasional treats but you also shouldn’t give up the majority of the good habits you’ve been working on!"
Leanne is an advocate for the 80/20 approach - eating healthily 80 percent of the time, and treating yourself for the other 20. "You can still see results without restricting everything in your diet or spending a ton of money on expensive supplements or fad diets," she explains. I couldn't have put it better myself.