3pm and reaching for a Kit Kat? Second Kit Kat today? Third maybe... Lots of us crave a sugar hit to get through the day especially when there's a snack bowl filled with Kit Kats and little treats within easy reach. Even when you always eat breakfast and never skip lunch, it's easy to fall into snack habits when your routine pretty much repeats every day.
Eating well shouldn't be a chore, but it doesn't hurt to think about what you eat once in a while. Step forward nutritional therapist Vanessa Francesconi, who suggests keeping a food diary for a week.
"Make a note of what you've eaten and at what time," says Vanessa. "Then ask yourself, are there gaps in your diet? Is there enough protein? Is it balanced? Check what habits you might have fallen into. Are your meals always the same? Try to make one new recipe every week. The more new recipes you try, the more nutrition variation is coming your way."
"Calorie counting is not the way to go."
"The key ingredient for every meal should be protein," she says. "People tend to overlook protein in favour of carbs like big pasta meals. Protein and things like wholegrains keep you feeling fuller for longer. They are also great for improving your mood.
"Your body needs time to digest slowly so that means you will feel fuller for longer, without the highs and lows associated with simple carbs. Think eggs, fish, meat, lentils and beans, pulses and wholegrains.
"It could be as simple as beans on wholegrain toast, or avocado dipped in hummus. It's important to vary your protein intake."
CARBS ARE NOT EVIL
Just be careful of when you eat them and why. "For deskbound people, simple carbs like white bread are not the way to go," says Vanessa. "Complex carbohydrates provide more sustainable energy, like seeded bread, oats, nuts, rye bread, beans, peas and lentils.
"Choose your carbs based on the kind of day you're going to have, and how active you'll be but limit them in the evening."
If you're grazing between meals, go for heathy snack recipes like raw carrots with a pistachio and feta dip rather than the aforementioned Kit Kats.
"We need fat in our diet, it's not the bad guy," says Vanessa. But lean towards unsaturated fats like fish, nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil, rather than butter, cheese and red meat.
Try this avocado and sumac dip as a delicious way to get some good fats.
"It's all about balance," Vanessa insists. "You should include all the different food groups, like protein, carbs, fat and fibre.
"If you're worried about salt, steer away from ready meals and cook at home instead."
And when you've eaten? Go for a 10 minute stroll, and buy yourself a magazine for your afternoon break.