Guilt-free and nutritious food rewards to make you smile!

When we’re having a tiring or stressful morning, day or week, little treats can make us feel better – or can they?  What you reach for could either make you feel virtuous or leave you feeling guilty. So how can you treat yourself and still feel good?

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares some great food tips on how to reward yourself guilt-free!

SMALLER--4 Suzie Blog pic

BREAKFAST

Maybe the kids have kept you awake all night.  Maybe you’re feeling exhausted after a busy week. Whatever the reason, our bodies naturally crave sweet treats when we’re tired. But if your breakfast is laden with sugar, your energy levels are going to crash later in the day.

So how can you treat yourself at breakfast? Why not whip up some pancakes which can be filled with low glycaemic, energy-sustaining fruit such as blueberries or strawberries.  The eggs in the pancakes are also going to keep your blood sugar levels stable, which will help to lift your mood.

Even better, try making the pancakes with whole wheat rather than white flour to get more energising B vitamins.  If you still feel the need for some added sweetness then maple syrup has a much lower sugar content than jam and therefore less calories.

MID-MORNING CRAVINGS

Your boss is driving you mad and you’ve still got another couple of meetings to go. Instead of running to the vending machine and grabbing a chocolate bar and a cappuccino, why not head across to the coffee shop and grab an Americano at only 11 calories and treat yourself to an almond biscotti!

With around 150 calories they’re much better than a chocolate bar or muffin which average around 450 calories.  It should get you through the rest of the morning, just try not to rely on it every day!

LUNCH-TIME PLEASURES

Often you’ll be grabbing lunch on the run during your lunch hour or on the way to work.  Sushi is a really popular ‘go-to’ choice which is often viewed as being very healthy.  However it really depends on what you choose: certain types of sushi, for example California rolls, are fairly high in calories at around 140 per roll, and sushi rice is made with sugar and rice vinegar.

However, if you choose sashimi with some miso soup, for example, then you can still indulge your passion without worrying about too many added calories.

AFTERNOON DELIGHTS

You’re sat at your desk, you’re hungry and dinner time is a long way away.  Or perhaps you’ve just got home after a day out with the kids.  You need a pick-me up snack.  Crudités and dips are very transportable, particularly if there’s a fridge in the office, but you need to watch which dip you pick.  Taramasalata is delicious but contains around 90% saturated fat.

The healthiest dip to choose is tzatziki which contains only around 15 calories per tablespoon. Or you could go for hummus or guacamole which is somewhere in between. With some chopped vegetables such as carrots, peppers and cucumber you’ll have a really healthy treat which will bridge the gap until dinner time.

If nuts are your ‘go-to’ afternoon snack try swapping your cashews for almonds and you’ll be gaining some really healthy, brain-boosting omega 3 fats and lots more fibre.

DINNER-TIME TREATS

Pasta is always popular on the dinner menu, particularly for children but also as a quick and filling base meal.  However, pasta with a cheese-based sauce is heavy on saturated fat.  For a much healthier option go for whole wheat pasta, which has not been refined and is high in energising B vitamins, and use a tomato-based sauce instead.

If you’re thinking about a spaghetti bolognese, then using low fat mince is also going to reduce your fat intake. However, if you swap the spaghetti for some Japanese Udon noodles made from whole wheat, you’ll be reducing your overall calorie intake and also gaining even more fibre on your plate.

If you’re looking for a sweet treat for dessert, then think Banana Split!  It doesn’t need to be the calorie and fat-laden restaurant version.  Instead, whisk some low fat Greek yoghurt with a little vanilla essence or a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Slice the banana and top with the yoghurt, some berries of your choice, pistachios and a teaspoon of chocolate sauce (or maple syrup or honey would be even better!) You’ll have a deliciously indulgent dessert but with more nutrients and less fat and sugar.

So with these reward foods, you can still treat yourself and eat a little bit healthier at the same time!

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