Nikki Hart video: Identifying snacks vs treats a key to healthier diet

2 February 2016

Balancing snacks and treats is a challenge for many people but the secret is in identifying them, according to food and nutrition expert Nikki Hart in FGC's second video on healthy eating.

The four-minute video shows that all foods and beverages can fit within a person’s overall pattern of intake but only if the intake is balanced within their needs.

In ‘Snacks vs Treats’, Nikki Hart, a trained dietitian and Registered Nutritionist, offers practical tips on healthy eating backed up by sound science.

She says the focus with all foods and beverages should be on moderation and portion size of foods, in combination with physical activity.   

Snacking can help boost nutrition for some people, but if their diet is already providing enough energy and nutrients then they don’t need to add snacks to their usual pattern of eating.

“The secret is in understanding when something is a treat or a snack.  Snacks can be a fun and healthful part of anyone’s eating pattern, and offer a great opportunity to reduce the risk of chronic disease by providing important nutrients.

“Treats are those less healthy snack items – such as lollies, chips, and sugar-sweetened beverages – that aren’t nutrient-rich and may be high in energy, saturated fat, salt, and sugar.  But they are a part of our lives and can be tasty and enjoyable.”

However, she says that classifying food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ may actually foster unhealthy eating behaviours, particularly in children.

“If your diet is already meeting your energy needs then you don’t need to add snacks to your usual pattern of eating.

“But there are many groups where snacking can be a useful way to meet their needs, for example active children and adolescents who need extra energy to meet their growth and exercise demands, older adults who have a limited intake and need to balance blood sugars, and those with a large time gap between meals who need to boost energy and address hunger.

“The trick is moderation and portion control. The bottom line is that smaller snacking is smarter snacking.  Enjoy your treats but remember they are just that – a treat.”