Recently I asked my subscribers which meals they needed the most help with and I wasn’t at all surprised to see that snacks were one of the biggest challenges. So, today I’ve got lots of snack ideas that will keep your sensitive gut happy, while preventing your tastebuds from dying of boredom.
First though, let’s quickly talk about the purpose of snacks…
A snack is not meant to be a meal, but something you eat in between to help tide over your hunger. Because of that, they should only be as big as is necessary to help you last until your next meal.
Also, there’s no right number of snacks to eat in a day. Some people like to have a morning snack, an afternoon snack, and an after dinner snack (which may also be called ‘dessert’). But it’s also okay not to eat any snacks during the day if your meals already fill you up enough.
Personally I tend to eat an afternoon snack and something after dinner on most days. But how much I eat depends on how active I’ve been and the size of my main meals.
What should a snack consist of?
Snacks can be mini versions of a main meal or completely different options. From a nutrition perspective, it’s generally better to choose snacks that are different to your main meals so you’ll get a more varied supply of nutrients.
Ideally, you should choose snacks that help you top up the core food groups you aren’t getting enough of in your main meals. To do that, you need to look at how much of these foods you eat during your main meals: fruit, vegetables, grains and cereals, dairy (or non-dairy alternatives), and meat or other proteins. Then choose whatever is lacking as the focal point of your snacks.
For most people, fruit is a great snack option because it’s not often eaten in main meals, except for breakfast. But vegetables are also important because we know that most people don’t eat their full 5 serves of veggies each day. It’s really easy to create snacks centred around fruits and veggies, as you’ll see below.
Another common thing that most people need more of is dairy – milk, yoghurt, cheese – whether that’s lactose-free dairy varieties or dairy-free alternatives (provided they’re fortified with calcium). Adults should have at least 2 and ½ serves of dairy (or alternatives) each day, but most people, especially women, don’t get enough. So adding dairy into snacks is an excellent top-up strategy.
On the other hand, grain-based foods are often our first choice for snacks, which is a problem because most people also eat a lot of grain-based foods in their main meals. So if you eat grain-based products, e.g. cereal, bread, pasta, rice, etc, in each main meal of the day, it could be a good strategy to choose non-grain-based foods for your snacks.
Here’s how I recommend building your snacks…
Note: make sure you check your food lists and FODMAP apps to help you choose the right portion sizes of each ingredient.
Step 1: Choose a protein source.
Protein helps to fill you up and make you feel more satisfied, so ideally all snacks should have a decent amount of protein. That’s why I like to start with the protein source first.
- Small tin of plain tuna, salmon or other fish.
- Hard-boiled egg.
- 2 tbsp of low FODMAP nuts or seeds.
- 10 almonds or hazelnuts.
- 2 tbsp peanut butter.
- Tub of lactose-free yoghurt.
- Lactose-free hard cheeses, such as cheddar, brie, feta, etc.
- Lactose-free milk.
Note: nuts, seeds and nut butters are an excellent way to top up your daily fibre intake.
Step 2: Choose a fruit or vegetable.
- 100-150g of low FODMAP fruit of your choice, e.g. orange, mandarin, rockmelon/ cantaloupe, honeydew melon, grapes, banana, berries (fresh or frozen). Note: make sure you check the Monash app for appropriate portion sizes of each fruit.
- 1 tbsp of low FODMAP dried fruit, e.g. dried cranberries or raisins.
- 1/2 to 1 cup of low FODMAP vegetable sticks of your choice, e.g. carrot, zucchini, capsicum, cucumber.
- Cherry tomatoes or sliced tomatoes.
Step 3: Choose a grain or carbohydrate base (optional depending on your hunger level).
When possible, try to choose wholegrain options since they are a better source of fibre and will help to make your low FODMAP diet healthier. But if you eat a lot of carbohydrates in your main meals (e.g. sandwiches, pasta, rice), then you may want to leave them out of your snacks and focus on the fruit and vegetable component.
- Rice crackers – choose plain crackers that don’t have any garlic, onion, spices or natural flavours added to them.
- Gluten-free crispbreads, such as buckwheat, rice, corn or quinoa options.
- One piece of low FODMAP toast.
- Rice cakes, plain – limit to 2 rice cakes.
- Corn thins, plain – limit to one thin only.
- Plain popcorn.
- Potato chips, plain* – limit to a small serve.
- Corn chips, plain* – limit to a small serve.
- Low FODMAP pikelets (mini pancakes).
- Low FODMAP waffles* – home made is normally much healthier.
- Low FODMAP muffins* – home made is normally much healthier.
*These foods are normally high in fat or sugar and shouldn’t be eaten on a daily basis. Although home made muffins, waffles or similar baked goods can be made quite healthy depending on the amount of sugar and fat added.
Step 4: Consider adding a little treat if you like (completely optional).
- 10g of dark chocolate, such as Lindt 70% cocoa (which is also dairy-free).
- Drizzle of pure maple syrup.
- Spreads, including golden syrup or low FODMAP jam.
Note that you should limit the additional treat options if you are trying to lose weight.
Example snack combos:
- Lactose-free yoghurt with fruit (e.g. banana, fresh berries or defrosted frozen berries).
- Lactose-free yoghurt with fruit, topped with 1 tbsp of nuts, seeds or oat bran for extra fibre.
- Cheese, crackers and fruit.
- Cheese, crackers and vegetable sticks.
- Carrot sticks and peanut butter.
- Almonds, grapes and a piece of chocolate.
- Walnuts and chopped orange.
- Hard-boiled egg and cherry tomatoes.
- Tin of tuna spread on two crispbreads, with cucumber sticks.
- Crispbreads, sliced tomato and 20g of avocado.
- Toast, crispbread, rice cakes or corn thins, topped with tomato and cheese.
- Toast and natural peanut butter with a small smear of jam or golden syrup.
- Toast or crispbreads with vegemite, cheese and tomato.
- Low FODMAP home made muffin with a piece of fruit.
- Waffles with banana or berries, nut butter and a touch of maple syrup (optional).
- Homemade dip with vegetable sticks, crackers or low FODMAP toast.
- Homemade low FODMAP muffin with a glass of lactose-free milk.
- Small café latte made using lactose-free milk.
- Hot cocoa (made on low FODMAP milk) with a small bowl of low FODMAP fruit.
- Smoothie, made using low FODMAP milk, 1 serve of fruit and 2-4 tsp of chia seeds.
Recipes that can help you to build your snacks:
- Banana Bread Waffles – a great alternative to bread that you can make ahead and keep in the freezer.
- Roasted Eggplant Dip – a nice way to add extra veggies to your day, good with veggie sticks, crackers or low FODMAP toast.
- Carrot, Cumin and Chickpea Dip – boost your fibre intake with chickpeas and veggies, serve with veggie sticks, crackers or low FODMAP toast.
- Low FODMAP Nut and Seed Sprinkle – add a tablespoon to a bowl of yoghurt and fruit to give it a generous fibre boost.
- Roasted Macadamia, Walnut and Hazelnut Butter – lovely on Banana Bread Waffles or low FODMAP toast, especially with sliced banana on top.
- Tangy Lemon Curd – a bit of a treat that’s delicious spread on low FODMAP toast or stirred into lactose-free yoghurt.
- Ginger, Hazelnut, Coconut and Dark Chocolate Slab – for those times when you need a treat and nothing but chocolate will do.
- Low FODMAP Banana Pancakes – but instead of making big pancakes, make them into pikelets and serve with strawberry jam.
- Melon Skewers with Mint and Lime Yoghurt – a fun twist on the standard ‘fruit and yoghurt’ snack.
- Chocolate, Banana and Peanut Butter Muffins – while not an everyday option, they’re much healthier than anything you could buy (and low FODMAP too).
- Choc Mint Energy Balls – a more nutrition choice than chocolate, with fibre and protein, but still a sweet treat that will give you lots of energy.