Hundreds of thousands of women across the UK could be missing out on vital nutrients by removing snacks from their diet. Recent research has shown that 41% of the nation's dieters are shunning snacking as part of their bid to lose weight .
Now, I know what you're probably thinking, surely skimping on snacks is a step in the right direction to shed some of those extra pounds? But, have you ever considered that you might unwittingly be putting yourself at risk of nutrient deficiencies?
For many people struggling with their weight, food becomes all about calories in and calories out. It's not just about controlling how much you eat - it's time to focus on the quality of your food and the balance of food groups within your diet.
Let's face facts, there really is no perfect diet or one size fits all for weight loss; rather it's finding an approach that feels sustainable that makes the big difference. While you can find a plethora of healthy recipes for meals in books and online, people find optimizing their snacking habits much harder.
The National Diet and Nutrition Survey has shown that many UK women don't get enough key vitamins and minerals like riboflavin, selenium, iron, potassium and magnesium . Snacking, albeit sensible snacking (which you can read more about here), represents an opportunity to increase our intake of essential nutrients. It's something that can be both great for our health, and taste snack-tastically delicious at the same time. I truly believe that snacking is a vital component to any diet, especially if we choose something nutritious and tasty. It's all about identifying snacking saviours that we can feel good about.
Take almonds for example, these clever little nuts are a brilliant weight-wise snack for all of us who are trying to shift a few pounds. And that's not all, almonds are both delicious and nutritious, making them a brilliant guilt free snack (and might I add, one of my favorite snacks of all!).
Recent research shows that both roasted and unroasted almonds provide fewer calories than thought--and that the number of calories is largely dependent on form . The study shows that compared to the number of calories listed on nutrition labels, participants actually absorbed 25% fewer calories from whole unroasted almonds and 19% fewer calories from whole roasted almonds. This study adds to a growing body of evidence showing that a simple snack of almonds can play an important role in weight management and keep your healthy habits on track.
Almonds are also jam-packed with 15 essential nutrients (per 100g), containing 6g of protein and 4g of fibre per handful (23 almonds or 28g), helping. In fact, research published in the European Journal of Nutrition , found that a mid-morning snack of almonds helped control appetite and reduced calorie intake during the rest of the day. This means that although people added calories to their diet in the form of a snack, the amount of food they consumed was less over the course of the day - making almonds a calorie-smart snack whilst providing key nutrients. Almond consumption has also been found to help reduce abdominal fat and leg fat mass, compared to a similar high-carb snack .
I've recently worked with the Almond Board of California to develop a 'Snack-ulator'. Designed to keep you on track in the run up to summer, this clever little tool makes suggestions for a variety of almond-based snacks. These snacks fit into a range of calorie brackets, and aim to provide inspiration for weight-conscious snackers looking to crunch on something when hunger strikes.
Photo credit: Lucy Jones and the Almond Board of California
[1 ]A study of 2,000 UK adults conducted by Censuswide in October 2016
 Gebauer SK, Novotny JA, Bornhorst GM and Baer DJ. Food processing and structure impact the metabolizable energy of almonds. Food & Function. 2016;7(10):4231-4238.
Hull S, Re R, Chambers L, Echaniz A, Wickham SJ. A mid-morning snack generates satiety and appropriate adjustment of subsequent food intake in healthy women. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2014; DOI 10.1007/s00394-014-0759-z.
Berryman CE, West SG, Fleming JA, Bordi PL, Kris-Etherton PM. Effects of Daily Almond Consumption on Cardiometabolic Risk and Abdominal Adiposity in Healthy Adults with Elevated LDL-Cholesterol: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of the American Heart Association 2015; 4:e000993 DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.114.000993.
Lucy Jones is currently working with The Almond Board of California