This is a question of massive debate. Is snacking good or is it bad? Let’s be real and admit that munching on something when you are watching movies, attending meetings, in class or when doing nothing is the ultimate bliss. It’s hard to find a person who doesn’t like to snack. Whether it’s a sugary delight or salty wafers, the snack aisles in supermarkets are our go-to sections.
Everyone has their own theory on this subject but today, we are here to clarify all your doubts regarding snacking. Today is the day when we will tell you everything about snacking and if you should be doing it or not.
What Is Snacking?
Everything that is consumed other than your normal meals like breakfast, lunch and dinner is considered to be snacking. A snack can either be a drink or food, sweet or savoury. Snacks have been associated with both weight gain and maintaining weight, as well as with a lower or higher diet quality. Most people, usually snack once a day and it is fairly common to see people eat or drink outside of the normal meal times. We all have been there, where we have picked a soda or a pack of crisps to munch onto on our way back home.
The most common reason behind people snacking is because of hunger or the revival of lost energy while working. However, there can be many more reasons for it. According to studies, people snack for various reasons apart from hunger. Some of them include social or food culture and environment, location, cognitive factors and hedonic eating.
One of the studies points out the potential reasons for snacking. When people with obesity or excess weight were asked why they chose unhealthy snacks, the most common response was temptation, followed by hunger and low energy levels.
Although snacks are considered to be a regular and important part of a healthy diet, they can also lead to health problems. The snacking behaviour of an individual can differentiate this. What you snack on, why you snack, your frequency of snacking, and how snacks fit into your overall eating plan determine whether your snacking is good or bad for you.
The Pros and Cons Of Snacking
Pros of Snacking
1. Provides the Boost of Energy
Between two meals, the hours seem too much longer sometimes and we feel extremely drained out of energy. To give another kick of energy, snacking is considered to be very essential. Snacking may help satisfy the hunger during the time thereby keeping the body full, energetic and happy. This also helps keep the mood less irritable and agitated.
2. It Helps You Get Extra Nutrients
Fruits are a preferred snack for many. This helps us to get extra calories, nutrients, fibre and roughage that may not be present in the meal. This can help the body stay fit from the outside as well as the inside.
3. Beneficial For People With Diabetes
Going on a long stretch without meals can cause a sudden rise or fall in blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. Snacking is one of the best ways to avoid this from happening and managing blood glucose levels.
4. Manages Appetite
Snacking can help to curb your appetite to prevent overeating at the next meal.
Cons of Snacking
1. Unwanted Weight Gain
If not done right, snacking can lead to adding a few more pounds to your weight and could add excessive calories to your diet.
2. Can Reduce Hunger
Too much snacking can reduce hunger at mealtimes or cause one to skip a meal entirely, which increases the risk of losing out on important nutrients.
3. Excessive intake of sugars and salts
Eating junk, ultra-processed, or fried foods while snacking may end up being extremely unhealthy for the body. Regular intake of ultra-processed food that contains added salt, sugar, and fats but that is low in nutrients and high in calories can increase a preference for these types of foods, leading to a change in eating behaviours and diet quality. A higher intake of hyper-palatable snacks along with a decreased intake of healthful foods.
How To Snack?
Snacking is very important and at the same time, extremely crucial to do. A little overboard with snacking can lead to serious consequences. Furthermore, the addiction to snacking is quite dangerous for individuals. While snacking important aspects have to be understood well.
Here is our ultimate guide on How To Snack.
Always ensure ‘WHEN’ you are snacking. Just give a quick glance at your day and understand the pattern of your hunger. What hours of the day between meals you might feel hungry or tend to grab extra food?
The next thing which comes is ‘WHY’. Ask yourself why are you snacking? And if you observe that you are snacking very frequently, then try to find out the cause of it. Whether you are actually hungry, or you are snacking just because you are bored, stressed or angry. If you are hungry, go to the next step on our list. If you realize you are eating from emotion, consider seeking some expert guidance on it.
One of the most important about snacking is ‘WHAT’. What you eat is extremely important because this is the main factor which determines if your snacking habits are healthy or unhealthy. Find out which snack satisfies your hunger. A satisfying snack will alleviate hunger, be enjoyable, and will give you some relief. However, if you eat something which doesn’t satisfy you, you’ll eat more and more and this is the point which you shouldn’t be crossing during your snack time.
Consider some healthy choices like the following.
- Crunchy—raw vegetable sticks, seeds and whole-grain crackers.
- Creamy—cottage cheese, yoghurt and, hummus.
- Sweet—chopped fresh fruit and dark chocolate.
- Savoury/Salty—cube or slice of cheese, roasted chickpeas and nuts.
4. HOW MUCH
You should determine ‘HOW MUCH’ you are eating. A snacking portion shouldn’t be too big. It is very easy to go overboard with your snack. Remember, it should be just enough to satisfy but not so much that it interferes with your appetite for a meal or adds too many calories. You should be aiming for about 150-250 calories per snack. If choosing a packaged snack such as chips, dried fruit, or nuts, read the Nutrition Facts panel to learn what is one serving, found at the top of the panel.
Our Final Verdict
Snacking is not unhealthy, in fact, it is good for your body. If done right, it is actually a good part of your diet plan. Something we all look forward to. Snacking has many pros which cannot be overlooked but also keep in mind it’s a very tough road to walk onto. You should be very careful when choosing how to snack. Always make the right choice when it comes to your health and healthy snacking habits should be prioritized.