What do you think of when someone mentions that they want a snack, or perhaps you fancy one yourself? A lot of the time, people will feel bad about that want, and perhaps even guilty. After all, snacks are bad, aren’t they? They’re unhealthy, and you’re just eating more than you should when you grab a quick snack during the day.
Is that really true, though? Is it ok to snack between meals and what exactly should I be snacking on?
The answer is… not all snacks are bad. In fact, sometimes, snacks are a very good thing that you should definitely make part of your daily diet. It really depends on a few factors, and in some cases, healthy, plant based snacks are nearly as bad as they’re made out to be. So with that in mind, here are some of the reasons why snacks (or some of them, at least) aren’t actually a bad thing.
Keeping Energy Levels Constant
One of the biggest reasons to have a snack in the first place is to keep hunger at bay between your larger meals. The fact is that it’s essential to keep up your energy levels through the day and ensure they’re steady, otherwise you’ll have a lot of ups and downs which make it hard to focus and be productive.
When you choose the right snacks with good levels of energy-producing nutrients in them (and not too much sugar or fats, for example), and you spread them out during the day, you’ll find that your energy levels stay constant, which makes it much easier to concentrate.
Examples of right snacks to eat would be the kind that have a low glycemic index and good amounts of complex carbs, protein and maybe a little healthy fats. These kind of snacks will help powder you through to your next meal without spiking your blood sugar, leading to possible weight gain.
The right kind of snacks will in fact keep your blood sugar stable and release their energy slowly into the bloodstream over the course of hours and not just a quick hit of energy.
Is It Ok To Snack Every Day?
Most Nutritionists agree that snacking is a good way to stay fuelled and to stop blood sugar spikes and troughs, providing the snacks are made from complex carbohydrates. These kind of foods fuel your brain, help you learn new things and keep your mood stable.
Blood sugar spikes and troughs can cause mood swings and even anxiety. Complex carbs fuel the brain and boost serotonin levels to help keep you happy. That’s why a good balance of snacks between meals every day is the perfect way to go going forward.
Snacking between meals can also stop you over-eating during actual mealtimes because you won’t be completely famished. When you eat a main meal too hungry it’s easy to eat too fast and ultimately over-eat.
Have you ever noticed that when you eat whilst over hungry that your body and stomach doesn’t register that it’s full until you have eaten way too much. That’s because your stomach doesn’t register that it’s full until twenty minutes after you start eating. Therefore, the slower you eat, the sooner you will feel full.
Examples of quick energy snacks would be:-
- Candy bars
- Cakes, cookies
- Other high sugar/oil foods that will cause you to lay down fat in all the wrong places.
- Burgers and other junk foods
Examples of good snacks would be:-
- Tofu chunks
- Homemade greens bars.
- Granola bars
- A handful of nuts or seeds.
- Dried fruits (especially dried weight loss fruits if you are watching your weight).
- Bananas and other fresh fruits.
- Energy/protein balls
Portion control is an issue a lot of people have, and no matter what they’re eating for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, it will be far too much. They’ll pile their plates high with food because they’re so hungry due to the long stretch of time between meals. And that’s even worse if they get up early and have breakfast first thing, meaning there’s a huge gap between then and lunchtime.
By adding in mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks, you’ll be a lot more careful when it comes to portion control because you’ll be less hungry. In the end, although you’re technically eating more times during the day, you’ll probably eat less food if you have healthy snacks in between meals.
The Social Aspect
Snacking can also play a big role in your social life. Think of a great snack you shared with a loved one or when you go for a quick bite to eat with work colleagues. You’ll see that these moments are ones you might have missed out on if you didn’t have snacks to help you.
That’s the thing about snacks; it’s not just about food, it’s about everything that goes along with it. So whether you have eggs benedict for your next brunch with your best friend or you share a cereal bar with your child and stop working for a moment to just be with them. It’s all positive – just make sure the snacks are good for you when you do it.
Snacking is a constructive thing only when you can snack on healthy, low GI foods that will fuel your body and brain rather than throw your blood sugars out and make you eat more, ultimately.
Always snack in moderation because a snack should be just that, something that tides you over until your next meal.
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