I can’t go a day without snacking. I snack a couple of times each day. Gaps of several hours between breakfast, lunch, and dinner are just too much for me! They cause me to overeat when a mealtime finally rolls around. Can you relate?
IS SNACKING GOOD FOR YOU?
Snacking is an important part of eating healthily. But that doesn’t give you carte blanche to grab whatever is labeled as snack food and assume it is OK to eat. Good snacking can accomplish a number of positive things; maintaining consistent blood sugar levels, maintaining energy levels, and preventing overeating to name just a few.
SNACKING CAN HELP WITH WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
As a weight management tool, snacking can be very effective for a couple of reasons: first, eating smaller amounts throughout the day will help keep your metabolism working regularly and consistently, which means it will be burning calories at all times. This is great for both maintaining a healthy weight, or helping to lose weight if that is your goal. Secondly, snacking prevents you from getting overly hungry in between meals, which often leads to overeating at the next meal.
SNACKING AND BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS
Snacking can also effectively help maintain blood sugar levels, preventing peaks and valleys that can be experienced from eating a large portion of food at a meal. An important variable in optimizing blood sugar levels is ensuring you are not eating/drinking much in the way of added sugars, and get much of your sugar from naturally occurring sources (from the actual fruit or vegetable), and complex carbohydrates. I am sure you’ve experienced the feeling of having energy after eating only to quickly succumb to the feeling of low-to-no energy after a few hours. There could be several food factors that contribute to this, but the first place I would look to is the carbohydrate and sugar content and quality of what you had eaten.
SNACK FOOD OPTIONS
It’s important to be aware of what you are snacking on. Tracking calories and macronutrients is too much for many people, and that is understandable. If you find meal tracking to be cumbersome or obsessive then I would recommend simply being cognizant of what it is you are eating. Try to find good balance of foods that are higher in carbs, mixed with foods higher in fats as well as proteins. One snack may consist of an apple with peanut butter. Another snack may be a slice of avocado toast (whole grain, of course). Another option could be a trail mix consisting of mostly nuts, seeds and fruit, with little to no added chocolate (dark is the best option). Of course, a Read The Ingredients Superloaf (even halved) provides a perfect balance of macronutrients and calories, with the opportunity to add a little more focus of any one macronutrient (nut butter spread, grapes on the side, etc.) These examples provide healthy options that will give you clean energy carrying you to your next ‘meal’.
FIND WHAT SNACKS WORK FOR YOU
Lastly, it is important to pay attention to how you feel and what your body is telling you. When you snack, it gives you the chance to isolate foods and let you listen to your body’s response to those foods. This can help you eliminate foods that make you feel sluggish, bloated, inflamed, etc. This can also help you focus on foods that boost your energy, meaning you won’t feel bogged down when you eat them! Knowing what foods do and don’t work well for your body is very important as you work towards overall health.
Keep snacking, but snack well, and listen to what your body is telling you!