Top 20 Reasons For Being Overweight - Part 4

Over the last few weeks and into next year, we're looking at the 20 biggest reasons that people find themselves overweight in the first place; based on analysis of nearly 1000 overweight people over 3 years .....
8 Eating times. (Eating the right food at the right time)
Next on the list (and no real surprises here), our eating times play a huge part in our weight gain or our ability to lose weight. Eating at the wrong times and/or not eating at the right times is largely down to our failing to plan ahead. As we covered in part 2, it’s very important that we treat ourselves to the time that we deserve, if we’re really serious about getting the results that we desire.

Planning ahead

Having the best intentions is one thing, but you have to make sure you have all the right stuff in”. That was a great quote from one of my clients.

Planning ahead plays a big part in a healthy lifestyle. It isn’t just about knowing what to eat, it’s also about having it there when you need it. Planning your shopping, your meals and your snacks keeps you in control. We all know we need to have a breakfast, we need plenty of water and we need food and snacks to sustain us through the day. So taking a little time at the start of the week to prepare for these, can help keep you from finding yourself hungry in the middle of the day and more prone to making unhealthy choices.

Many of us have busy careers and work long hours, so planning evening meals in advance is also essential, to steer us away from the convenience of a take-away at the end of a busy day. Planned evening meals can be just as convenient if we’ve taken the time to prepare them in advance. It might even be a meal you had earlier in the week, where you deliberately made enough to freeze for another day.

Always make time for breakfast

Although we’ve already covered the importance of having a breakfast, it’s worth reiterating as the timing of your breakfast is just as important as the breakfast itself. Making time for breakfast is huge way to help towards your weight loss goals. Your body actually burns off calories more efficiently once you’ve had something to eat; so the sooner in the day you can have a breakfast, the sooner you’re kick-starting your body's ‘calorie burning’ time!

And, as I say to my clients, it doesn’t need to be a Kings Banquet! … Just a small slice of wholemeal toast, or a small banana, or a hand-full of bran cereal or porridge are examples of all it takes to fire your body up in a morning.

Those people that kid themselves into thinking they don’t have time for breakfast are hindering their own weight loss efforts and often find themselves ‘bumbling’ through the morning feeling lethargic, without any energy and propping themselves up with coffee.

Don’t skip lunch

The importance of eating times isn’t just about the meals we have, it’s about the meals we skip! I remember having a conversation with a client last year, she had a very busy job, driving up and down the country and was telling me she simply did not have time for lunch. “Look”, she said, holding her open diary out in front of me, “Where am I supposed to find time for lunch?”.

Her diary was clearly filled with appointments, so I asked her, “You obviously live by this diary, don’t you?”.

“Yes”, she answered.

“…and, if it doesn’t go in here, it doesn’t get done. Right?”, I continued.

“That’s right”, she agreed.

So, I then asked her, “So, where are your appointments with yourself, to have a half hour lunch every day?”.

You see, it doesn’t necessarily come natural to us to diarise time for ourselves, but if we live by a diary, get those appointments with yourself in there. Yes, this may sound odd, but once those appointments are in there, your thinking changes and you plan your day around them. You just treat them like any other appointment. I know this works because I do it myself !!

Skipping breakfast or lunch is like trying to drive across the country along the ‘b’ roads. If you really want to get going and stay moving throughout the day, a wholesome breakfast and a healthy lunch gets you straight onto the motorway and motoring through your day.

Eating meals late into the evening

As a guide, it’s best not to eat within 4 hours of bed time. Clearly, this isn’t always possible; late nights at the office, meals out with the family, etc, are generally going to cause us to eat on the wrong side of this deadline. It’s important however, to make sure those occasions are the ‘exception’, rather than the ‘rule’.

During the daytime, when our metabolic rate is higher, our bodies have the time to burn off much of what we eat. As we get further into the evening time and our metabolisms are ‘slowing down’ for the day, it becomes increasingly likely that what we eat will not be burnt off and as such, more likely that foods such as starchy carbohydrates are converted into fats and stored by our bodies; very often around the midriff area.

So, for those occasions where eating later is unavoidable, low fat, low carb meals such as prawn, turkey or chicken in a salad, stir fry or soup are a sensible option.

Definite late-night no-no’s would be pizza, kebabs, pies, burgers, take-aways, pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, cakes, biscuits, milk chocolate … you get the picture!

Working shifts

Some people believe it’s their shift pattern which is the cause of their weight problem. To some extent, this can be true; but it’s the changing over from ‘day-shifts’ to ‘night-shifts’ (or vice versa) that causes the biggest problem, not the actual shifts themselves.

For those working night shifts, take ‘breakfast’ as, ‘the meal you eat within an hour of waking up’ and ‘dinner’ (as in evening meal) as, ‘your final meal of the day, which should ideally be eaten around four hours before going back to bed’. If you can successfully challenge yourself to stick to this eating pattern, then you won’t be at any real disadvantage compared to someone working a day shift.

9 Food choices

Next on the list of the top reasons we struggle with our weight, is that it’s often simply down to out-and-out poor food choices.

Having an imbalanced diet and making poor food choices not only has a negative impact on our weight, it also affects our overall health. The foods you put into your body directly impacts how you feel, your weight and your risk of developing chronic diseases. Making a few simple changes to your diet can start the ball rolling toward losing a moderate amount of weight, improving your blood pressure levels, lowering blood cholesterol and reduces your risk of suffering serious chronic illnesses.


One of the ways in which our diet affects how we feel, is that whenever we eat a stodgy, calorie laden meal, this can make us feel sluggish and rundown. We can feel lethargic, less energised and don’t want to do anything. Over time, we may gain weight, which can impact our physical activity level even further. Without exercise, we ultimately reach a point where we constantly feel tired and fatigued.

Having a diet high in fat, particularly saturated and trans fat, increases your risk of developing heart disease. Having a poor diet generally filled with unhealthy foods leads to problems in your digestive tract, due largely to not meeting your daily fibre intake. This can cause excessive wind, episodes of diarrhoea or constipation, meaning you are unable to have bowel movements for days or strain when you use the bathroom.

Two unhealthy meals in a row…

There can be a whole host of reasons that causes us to eat unhealthily. Time often plays a part; lack of planning ahead can cause us to call for a junk-food take-away for convenience. Sometimes we can be misled into thinking we’re eating healthily, only to find out that in actual fact, that ‘healthy option’ is packed with lots of ‘hidden calories’.

Of course, it’s unrealistic to expect anyone to never have an unhealthy meal again, so a good rule to try and live by, is ‘Don’t eat two unhealthy meals in a row’.

Poor food choices make it easy to eat two unhealthy meals in a row, which literally doubles our chances of falling off the diet wagon. As a result, we can find ourselves reverting back to that old, destructive eating lifestyle. That’s how easy it is to damage our mind-set and willpower when trying to improve our eating habits.

A very punishing rule of life for people who are overweight or obese, is that a whole week of eating healthy foods can be undone by a single day of unhealthy feasting or binge eating.

When that happens, a feeling of defeatism occurs and we tend to abandon our health goals. Two bad meals can easily lead to three, then four, until we have officially halted any health progress we were making.

Instead, if we do happen to eat way too many slices of pizza or are tempted by the ‘super sized’ version of a Big Mac combo meal, we must make sure our next meal is light, such as a chicken garden salad with a low-fat, low-calorie dressing.

Just as we can ruin a diet with two unhealthy meals in a row that clog our system, we can get our weight goals right back by following up our mistake with a healthy meal that cleanses our system.

Even healthy people fall off the wagon with improper food choices some times; but they are quick to get back on the wagon and they make an unhealthy meal an uncommon occurrence. That’s the fine line between healthy people and unhealthy people.

If you have one of those days in which you do consume two consecutive unhealthy meals because of poor food choices, make sure you follow the next most important golden rule – Never eat three unhealthy meals in a row!

There’ll be more of the Top 20 Reasons We Find Ourselves Overweight in the next blog.

Have You Thought About Your Weight Loss Goals For 2013?

Maybe you have. Maybe you haven’t. One thing’s for sure, although it might not seem that obvious, giving some thought to our weight loss goals over the next year is the very first step to making these ideas become a reality. It isn't the ONLY thing we need to do of course, but if we at least have a target in mind, we have our starting point (i.e, now), and we also have something to aim for. We can then set about taking steps, however small, in the direction of where we want to be.

Instead of your New Years Resolutions being mere ‘wishes’ and ‘want’, you really can make them into firm commitments and rituals by beginning the process of thinking through what your weight loss goals and targets might be for next year. You may already have an idea, or it may be something that hadn't really crossed your mind until now ...... How would you really like to look on next years summer holiday photographs? What about on your birthday? or even next Christmas?? Imagine how you really would like to look and feel, how healthy you would really love to see your eating habits. Which of those outfits in the wardrobe would you REALLY look amazing in next year?

The act of 'conceiving' these goals in your mind and wanting them strongly enough, sets the wheels in motion. Then, by applying some of what we know about how the mind works, once you have a clear idea in your mind of exactly what you want out of next year in terms of your weight or size, the next step is an absolute must ... write it down.

The act of actually writing goals down on paper gets processed by a different part of the brain than merely ‘thinking’ through them. It 'cements' them in your mind. It turns them from mere 'flashes in your brain' to 'tangible, perceivable destinations' to which our minds can set about plotting a pathway.

Now, when you’re writing your goals down, be specific, be realistic, set yourself a time limit and most importantly (and this may sound a bit odd), write them in a way that implies you’ve already achieved them.

For example, instead of writing a goal of, “I want to fit into my black cocktail dress by April”, a much better goal would read, “I’m easily fitting into my black cocktail dress before April. I’m looking great and feeling fantastic!”.

You can set as few or as many goals as you wish, writing them down and keeping them in your purse or wallet. Then, you must read them EVERY day, morning and evening.

As strange as it might seem, by setting your goals out in such a way, your mind is FAR more likely to respond to them subconsciously, helping you to resonate with and respond to more of the circumstances required to steer you in the direction of your desired outcome.

Go on then, give that a go. We’ll catch up again in the New Year and in the mean time, I wish you and your families a fabulous and wonderful Merry Christmas.

Best wishes



Top 20 Reasons For Being Overweight - Part 3

Following a three year a study of nearly 1000 overweight people, I have put together a list of the top 20 reasons that we find ourselves over weight.

The last 2 posts have covered reasons 1 to 6. In this post, I'll be revealing that the 7th most prominent contributory factor in us is becoming overweight is Snacking and Grazing Between Meals. This entire post is dedicated to looking at some of the causes we snack, what we can do about it, and some ideas to help us snack more healthily...

7 Snacking and Grazing.

Habitual snacking or comfort eating represents a big challenge to many of us who are wishing to bring our weight under control. So, what causes us to pick at food in between meals, late at night, when we're bored or 'because we can'…?

So, here are ten of the main reasons we may find ourselves snacking and ways to combat it;

1. Dehydration..!!
‘Lack of water’ seems to get blamed for everything! But it's true, we're far more likely to snack if we're a little de-hydrated. Ironically, a lot of the snacks that many of us turn to, are either high in sugar (biscuits, chocolate, sweets, etc) or high in salt (crisps, nuts, etc), which compounds the effect! Whenever you find yourself rummaging through the cupboards or the fridge for 'no apparent reason', try a glass of cool, clean fresh water. Virtually every time, you'll notice that 'snacky' feeling dissolve away.

2. Don't allow yourself to become famished! In a previous blog, I mentioned that people who leave it until they're absolutely starving before they eat, are far more likely to make poorer food choices, eat much faster and consume much larger portions (missing the signals the stomach sends to the brain). Also, a person allowing themselves to become absolutely famished significantly increases the likelihood that they'll snack on something, given the opportunity.

3. Comfort Eating or Boredom. Yes, we've all been there. Feeling rotten about ourselves for some reason, so we head off to the fridge to see if we can find something to cheer us up!
Or we might just explore the fridge because there's nothing else to do .... and in either case, more often than not, once we've consumed whatever snacks we could unearth, we either feel 'completely riddled with guilt' or are totally bemused as to 'why we've just done that!'

Sometimes, it's just possible to catch this before it happens. Whilst you’re at the 'pre-snack rummaging' stage, just ask yourself, "Am I really hungry, or do I just want to change the way I feel?". This is a great question because quite often, once you realise you aren't actually hungry at all, you can feel a real sense of achievement and discipline as you walk away from the fridge having resisted the urge .... well done you!

4. Plan your snacks and stick to the plan. Of course there are snacks that can help contribute to your vitamin  / '5 a day' intake, so don't just chose them, plan a time when you’ll actually be eating them. By having ‘planned’ meals and snacks throughout your day, this is far more likely to allow you to feel in full control of your eating patterns by eliminating those times where you perhaps felt uncontrollably hungry in the past.

5. Never eat meals or snacks in front of the TV. If your mind is engaged elsewhere other than on your food, you will almost certainly miss the signals from your stomach and continue eating way past the point of what would be considered a 'sensible portion'.

6. Don't buy snacky food in the first place. Sometimes it’s just ‘good common sense’ to keep temptation out of harm’s way! The overwhelming majority of my clients agree that if the stuff isn't in the house in the first place, it doesn't bother them. So, when you're doing the weekly shop (by the way, don't even think of doing the weekly shop when you're hungry or snacky!), it's worth making a conscious decision to avoid buying some of those 'naughty' snacks in the first place.

7. Chew sugar free gum. Doing this between meals can make you far less likely to snack.

8. Resist snacking on meals that you are preparing. Okay, you may want to test the sauce is hot enough or check the pasta is 'al dante', and that's okay. However, polishing off a stray lamb chop because there's an odd number in the packet is just going too far!

But of course, we've all done it. Snacking or picking when preparing a meal is quite commonplace and clearly catches most of us at our most vulnerable ... just before a meal. Quite often, we don’t even know we’re doing it. The handy thing is that, once we are aware, we generally can exercise much more control. So, be aware…!

9. Don't finish off the food other people leave. Sometimes, people find themselves doing this out of pure habit. It isn't that difficult to break this particular habit with a little conscious effort. In addition, if for example, you find yourself frequently finishing off your partners meal, consider adjusting their portion size in the same way as you would your own.

10 Brush and/or floss your teeth after each meal or planned snack. We’re conditioned from a very early age that the act of brushing our teeth, along with the flavours that come with it, causes us to not expect any food for a while. In effect, it ‘switches off’ the hunger receptors in our brain. This will help you stay away from food for an hour or two; long enough for you to become engaged in something else.

Okay, So It Isn't Always That Easy ....!!

Of course it isn't. And losing weight and becoming fitter isn't something that happens in an instant, it's a journey. Three square meals a day is all well and good, but we all sometimes need a little something in between — particularly when we live an active lifestyle. However, snacking can easily become a diet downfall rather than an energy boost.

Finding food to eat when you’re hungry can be difficult when you’re trying to eat healthy. Having the time to prepare snacks is most of the battle. To eat healthy, is to eat fresh. Freshness doesn’t always come out of a box or package. Granted, those are the easiest and quickest foods to munch on. Just being able to grab a bag of crisps would be the ideal amount of time we would want to spend on preparing a snack! However, to get closer to your weight loss goals, it can be a good idea to 'pre-make' your snacks in advance.

So with that in mind, here are a few healthy, sweet and savoury snacking options, which you can use to fill a gap without piling on the calories!

It's also worth bearing in mind that many of these snack ideas need a bit of 'advance planning', which is great; when we can plan ahead, we're generally in much more control and are far less likely to be tempted by impulsive unhealthy munchies!

Remember when you’re dividing these snacks up, that they are just snacks, to be consumed between your three other meals. Portion control is always key in order to get the best results, so keep in mind that although these snacks are healthy, you should never over eat them.

1. Frozen Grapes
The first time I tried frozen grapes, I expected them to be hard and toothy-chippy like marbles. But I couldn't have been more wrong: they're like little ice lollies ... sweet, with the grape taking on almost an ice-creamy texture underneath the peel.

They're about 100 calories a cup, fat-free, and have all the beneficial flavonoids of regular grapes. Just wash them, pop them in a ramekin or container in your freezer, and let them sit for a few hours. Delicious!!

2. Fresh Popcorn
Popcorn is one of the best snacks to choose for overall crunch appeal. It’s light, healthy and provides a high amount of fibre. You can pick up bags of Microwaveable popcorn kernels in most supermarkets, they're inexpensive and will last you a while. For extra taste, add a few squirts of fat free butter spray and a pinch of seasoning salt.

By the way, don't confuse this snack with the likes of Toffee Popcorn, Butter Popcorn or other pre-packaged flavoured popcorn snacks. Many of these are very high in salt, sugar and/or fat.

3. Dried Apricots and Almonds
Almonds are high in protein and fibre, as well as being low-GI, a good source of magnesium, and rich in vitamin E (an antioxidant). Dried apricots, on the other hand, are rich in carotenes, which may lower the risk of cancers of the throat and lungs — and provide you with potassium, iron, calcium, silicon, phosphorus, and vitamin C. Interestingly, dried apricots have a far greater nutritional value than fresh ones because the nutrient content is so concentrated. Gram for gram, dried apricots have twelve times the iron, seven times the fibre and five times the vitamin A of fresh ones! The best way to eat this snack is to impale the almonds in the apricots!

Portion size:  Try 3 or 4 apricots with 10 to 15 almonds for a delicious snack of just approximately 125 calories.

4. Chicken Breast
Sliced chicken breast is a great snack to include in your dietary regimen. It's easy to cook an 'extra' chicken breast when preparing a meal, allowing you to have it on hand in the fridge for a quick snack. Cold, sliced chicken breast tastes great and is high in protein, low in fat and has virtually no carbs.

Always choose all natural boneless, skinless chicken breast versus pre-packaged luncheon meats which are processed and contain added sugar and salt.

5. Hummus or Peanut Butter on Crisp-bread, Baked Potato Crisps, Carrots or Celery.
A number of combinations here, all of which are quick, easy and healthy in moderation with a good mix of protein, fat, carbohydrate, and lots of fibre. While peanut butter is high in fat, it’s the unsaturated (or ‘good’) kind — and peanuts are a great source of the antioxidant vitamin E. Peanut butter is also rich in protein — so is an especially good option for vegetarians — and a good source of magnesium. Opt to spread the peanut butter on rye crisp-breads — which are low in salt, high in fibre and have a low GI — so you won’t get an energy high followed by a crash.

Hummus is best when you make it yourself using chickpeas — but if you don’t have time to do this, opt for the reduced fat variety, which will supply you with vitamin E, manganese, and disease-fighting garlic. Use raw veg — such as beta-carotene-rich carrot sticks and potassium-rich celery — to dip into the hummus, in order to boost your fibre intake.

Portion Guidelines: Two teaspoons of peanut butter on two rye crispbreads = 180 calories, whilst 50g (1.8oz) reduced fat hummus with carrot or celery sticks = 125 calories.

6. Dark Chocolate
Much to the surprise of many, you can eat chocolate as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Dark chocolate, containing at least 70 per cent cocoa solids is a good source of antioxidants, particularly flavonoids, which are the type that are found in green tea and red wine.

A number of studies have found that chocolate's main fat, stearic acid, has a neutral effect on the LDL (or ‘bad’) cholesterol. Dark chocolate has also been shown to reduce high blood pressure, and has twice the magnesium of and more iron than milk chocolate. Plus chocolate makes us feel good!

Portion size: A 20g (0.7oz) bar or chunk = 100 calories.

7. Hard Boiled Eggs
Planning ahead and having some hard boiled eggs on stand-by, give you a quick, high protein snack on hand at anytime! Hard boiled eggs are an excellent source of protein, simple to prepare and each one only has about 76 calories. Eggs are also very nutritious. In fact, they contain a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins and Minerals in Eggs

A: good for the skin and growth.
D: strengthens bones by raising calcium absorption.
E: protects cells from oxidation.
B1: helps properly release energy from carbohydrates.
B2: helps release energy from protein and fat.
B6: promotes the metabolism of protein.
B12: an essential vitamin in the formation of nerve fibers and blood cells.

Iron: essential in the creation of red blood cells.
Zinc: good for enzyme stability and essential in sexual maturation.
Calcium: most important mineral in the strengthening bones & teeth.
Iodine: controls thyroid hormones.
Selenium: like vitamin E, it protects cells from oxidation.

Beware though, the yolk is extremely high in cholesterol, containing more than two-thirds of the recommended daily limit of 300 mg! However, the yolk has many health strengths necessary for immunity, healthy skin, nerves and vision. The yolk contains good amounts of B Vitamins, Vitamin A, iron and riboflavin.

8. Olives
Olives have numerous health benefits, including being rich in Vitamins (in particular Vitamin E), minerals, monounsaturated fats, and antioxidants. They are full of nutritional value, helping to fight against a number of critical diseases; including cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, constipation, inflammation and asthma.

Benefits of Olives
The Vitamin E contained in Olives is the body's primary fat-soluble antioxidant. Antioxidants help to strengthen the body's immune system; reducing the severity of asthma, cancer, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, premature aging, as well as delaying the effects of aging.

Olives contain compounds called polyphenols that appear to have significant anti-inflammatory properties. The juice of the olive, otherwise known as olive oil, is a delicious source of antioxidants. This oil is monounsaturated, and it has a positive effect on the cholesterol level in our blood streams, by helping to reduce it.

Monounsaturated fats are an important part of our diets. These oils act to keep cholesterol from sticking to our artery walls, and thus combating against diseases such as heart disease and strokes. Not only that, but they help to control blood sugar, a big plus in offering protection against diabetes.

9 Walnuts
Walnuts are a tasty and highly nutrient dense food to snack on and can add flavour and crunch to a meal. They are an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids and are also rich in vitamins and minerals that help us to stay healthy. Walnuts are high in poly and monounsaturated fats and especially linoleic and alpha-linoleic acid. Those two acids cannot be synthesized by our body and must be provided daily. They are called essential fatty acids. They are involved in the manufacture of certain hormones, part of the cell's membrane and they regulate the cholesterol. 5 walnuts (28g) supply our daily needs in those acids.

Health Benefits
Walnuts contain an antioxidant compound called elegiac acid that supports the immune system and appears to have several anticancer properties. Alpha-linoleic acid is an omega-3 fatty acids. This family of acids has an anti-inflammatory action. Walnuts are therefore useful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and itchy skin conditions. (Dry skin is usually the first sign of an essential fatty acid deficiency).

Heart Healthy
The high amount of unsaturated fats in the walnut helps us keep our blood cholesterol down. Walnuts lower blood cholesterol with a rise in HDL (called "good" cholesterol) and a drop in LDL (called "bad" cholesterol). Therefore, walnuts may reduce heart disease risks. Studies suggest that people who eat walnuts are less likely to develop coronary heart diseases and heart attacks.

Nutrient Dense
Walnuts are also a good source of protein. They contain 15.23 grams of protein per 100 grams, which is equivalent to 100 grams of chicken. Walnuts are rich in calories. They can help people with small appetites, such as elderly and convalescents, to meet their daily calories requirements. Walnuts are also a very good source of the manganese and a good source of copper. In addition, walnuts contain the antioxidant phytochemical, elegiac acid.

10 Whole Grain Breakfast Cereal.
A great example of a quick and convenient snack, that is 'easy' to have in the cupboard.

Wholegrain breakfast cereals such as Weetabix, bran flakes, unsweetened muesli, Shreddies and porridge oats are a great, low calorie source of vitamins and dietary fibre. For example, a 30g snack sized portion of 'No Added Sugar Alpen' contains just 112 calories. Why not try with a spoonful of fat free yoghurt and/or a handful of fresh berries ...?

11. Whole Grain Bread Sticks, Celery Sticks & Salsa
Salsa, which is the Spanish word for 'sauce', is a good source of minerals, some vitamins, and the important antioxidant lycopene.

A typical ramekin (about half a cup) of serving of classic salsa has just 35 calories, and is a good source of the fat-soluble vitamins A, E and K. It supplies 7% recommended daily allowance of vitamin K and 8% RDA of vitamins A and E.

A ramekin of salsa will also deliver 11% of our RDA of vitamin B6, 4% of our RDA of vitamin C

Go easy on the Whole Wheat Bread Sticks at 33 calories each. But as for delicious crunchy celery, it's loaded with vitamins and can help to satisfy a snack craving for virtually zero calories. In fact, celery is what is known as a Negative Calorie Food. This means, you actually burn off more calories chewing and digesting celery, then it actually contains!!

12. Twiglets
Twiglets are those little whole-wheat knobbly sticks, designed to look like twigs, that have a sticky marmite flavour coating on them. They don't feel at all greasy like crisps do and contain 96 calories and 2.9g of fat (of which saturates 1.3g) per 25g bag .... not too bad if eaten in moderation.

Twiglets are actually baked rather than fried so are marketed as a more "healthy" snack. This of course depends on how many you munch! Oh, and if you hate Marmite, then it’s likely you will hate these too!!

13. Fruit Smoothie
As far as simple, healthy snacks go, nothing beats a homemade fruit smoothie for ease of preparation (as long as you have a smoothie maker!) and general deliciousness!

For starters, they're a super way to make sure you're getting plenty of fresh fruit on a day-to-day basis and you can be as inventive and creative as your mind will allow you to be.

Smoothie Tip: Using properly ripened fruit, which is so full of flavour, is how you avoid adding unnecessary ingredients like milk, cream, sorbet, ice cream, rice milk or yogurt. When you add those things, the smoothie stops being a healthy snack and becomes a fatty dessert!!

14. Sugar Free Jelly
Half a pint of sugar free jelly, gives you a sweet burst of fruity flavour, it contains about 16 calories and you can even count it towards your daily fluid intake!

15. Dried Fruit Pieces
A handful of dried fruit is a great alternative to sweets. Dried fruits such as apple, mango, banana, pineapple, papaya, strawberries and raisins are another convenient, delicious and nourishing snack option. Make sure to choose unsweetened and untreated dried fruits. As most of the water has been removed in these types of snacks (which is what helps to fill us up!), it's also a good idea to accompany dried fruit with plenty of water or unsweetened juice.

16. Low Fat Crispbreads with Non-Fat Cottage Cheese.
Depending on the manufacturer, a snack-sized 50g serving of fat-free cottage cheese only contains about 35 to 40 calories, but monitor your serving size to ensure you do not consume too much of a good thing. And remember just because the cottage cheese is fat-free, does not mean it is cholesterol free, 50g of fat-free cottage cheese contains 5 mg of cholesterol.

17. Half a Tin of Soup
A perfect choice for a healthy snack. soup is a high volume, low calorie food. It also provides the feeling of satisfaction and fullness, without the extra calories often found in larger meals or less healthy, convenient snacks.

Ideally of course, home made soup is far better, but in terms of a quick, inexpensive and convenient snack, a reasonable brand of non-creamy soup can offer a good amount of nutritional value for the time it takes to prepare. For example half a tin of Heinz Vegetable Soup contains all the goodness of carrots, potatoes, swede, onions, peas and haricot beans. In fact 29% of the contents of the tin is made up of vegetables.

A 200g portion (half a tin), contains just 89 calories and hardly any saturated fat.

18. Sugar Snap Peas
Pre-washed string-less sugar snap peas can be found in your local supermarket in plastic bags.

If you are trying hard to add nutritious food to your diet, you are going to have a tough time beating this tasty treat.

The difference between sugar snap peas and regular peas is that you don't have to shell them. With sugar snap peas you get to eat the entire pod with the peas nestled inside. The outer shell tastes deliciously sweet and you get a big CRUNCH out of them.

This is really a great snack. With no effort on your part, except for buying and opening the package, you can have 25% of your daily allowance of Vitamin C. Sugar snap peas have protein, iron, fibre, calcium, Vitamin A and micronutrients that we still don't know much about.

If you grab a bag of sugar snap peas instead of potato crisps, just think of what you will be doing for your health!

19. Antipasto
The Italians know a thing or two about healthy snacking. Olives, marinated veg like aubergine (eggplant), sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes or peppers all make wonderful quick snacks. Go on then .... you can even throw in a little prosciutto (but don't tell anyone!)

20. Water
Another point to remember if ever we're prone to occasional snacking, is to ensure we're well hydrated. When we're slightly dehydrated, our brains confuse the signals between hunger and thirst. So, whilst we might perceive that we're feeling a bit hungry, what our body is actually craving is fluid; anything that doesn't contain caffeine, alcohol or sugar. More often than not, a glass of water or flavoured water will quash those 'snacky' feelings within 3 minutes.

I'll be uncovering more of the Top 20 Reasons We're Overweight in the next blog...