I’m not sure there are many of us that don’t enjoy eating a bag of crisps, and if you’re like me, once you’ve opened a bag it’s hard to stop until you’ve reached the end (especially if they’re Tyrell’s paprika flavour, which are my new obsession).
We all know that crisps aren’t a ‘health’ food though it doesn’t stop us eating them – the UK consumes more crisps than anywhere in Europe, and the savoury snack industry is worth over £3billion!
Crisps usually top of the list of foods my clients say they shouldn’t be eating. But what if I could convince you that crisps can be enjoyed, and even that they can be good for you?!
As with most foods it all depends on the quality, and sadly, the quantity. Let’s leave quantity to one side for now – I think it’s safe to assume we’re aware that a small handful is going to have less negative impact on our bodies than the giant bags.
When it comes to health I’m a firm believer that our bodies do best of a wide variety of foods – that means varying up the grains, varying up the plant matter, and varying up the taste. The reason has a lot to do with our ‘microbiome’ the good bacteria that reside in our guts. We need our gut microbes to be thriving as they support our immunity, mental health, ability to effectively absorb and ability to effectively excrete. Our gut microbes thrive off plant matter – the more diverse and different, the happier they are.
This is where crisps can come in. Yes, traditionally crisps are made from potatoes, but look in any supermarket now and you can find crisps made from lentils, chickpeas, corn, peas; and that’s not even mentioning vegetable chips.
Including these different pulses and grains can all contribute to supporting your microbiome, potentially making for a healthier gut, potentially making for a healthier you!
We probably are all going to include some crisps and snacks this Christmas season (there’s not much else to do but eat!) Here are some of my tips for making the best choices when it comes to crisps:
1. Vary the grain – choosing crisps made out of pulses and legumes (eg chickpeas, lentils, peas) not only supports your gut bacteria, but can also provide protein and trace minerals that your regular potato crisps might not. Look for brands like Emily’s, RW Garcia, Eat Real, Burts
2. Portion size counts – if you find it challenging to stop at just a handful (and who doesn’t?), decant a serving size into a bowl. Be sure to seal up the big back and place it up high. Enjoy your bowl of crisps away from where you’re storing the big bag.
3. Add a dip – dips, such as hummus, guacamole, salsa, tapenade are tasty, nutritious and help support blood sugar. Adding a dip to your crisps means you’ll feel more satisfied and are likely to eat a lot more nutrients than just eating the crisps by themselves.
4. Enjoy enjoy enjoy! – Crisps are delicious – no one is denying that! But it’s often when we deny ourselves particular foods, and elevate them to a particular status, that they become cravings and ‘dangerous’. If you’re going to have crisps try to eat in a way that you notice them. Enjoy their taste, enjoy their crunch, take pleasure from them, but ditch the guilt! By giving yourself permission to eat them you are likely to take them off their pedestal and treat them like any other food.