Article by Emily White
Snacking is something of great debate. Some say you should snack morning and afternoon to keep your blood sugar levels stable and cravings at bay, whilst others say you should ensure you are getting enough food and nutrients at your main meals that you don’t require snacks between meals. Which one is the correct?
Like most things nutrition related, whatever works for you!
If you are someone that enjoys eating at regular intervals, then snacks might be of benefit to you, likewise if you don’t like snacking and find you simply aren’t hungry between meals, you certainly don’t need to.
So that is settled then. Snack or no snack, it doesn’t really matter. End of article? Not quite. There are a few problems that ‘snackers’ can run into, so before you reach for that midmorning snack, ensure you are snacking smart.
It isn’t the act of snacking itself that is the issue, it is more so-
How are we snacking:
It isn’t the act of eating smaller, more regularly, that is an issue, but more so that a snack often suggests it is being eaten in a rushed and on the go manner, between deadlines and tasks throughout the day. This is an issue as we aren’t giving the food the attention it deserves.
Ever eaten something and while your physical hunger is satiated your mind tells you, you just aren’t quite satisfied?
That is because as much as we like to think we are, the mind just isn’t that good at multi-tasking. So, if you are busy getting work done at the same time as eating your afternoon tea, your mind will focus on the work, meaning while you physically consumed the food, you didn’t get to mentally enjoy it. That can lead to the snack being finished, and you looking around wondering where it went, and where you can get more!
Not giving your food the focus and attention it deserves can lead to eating more despite being physically full, because your brain feels like it hasn’t had the experience of food and therefore you feel unsatisfied.
So, if you are going to snack, ensure you put aside what you are doing and allow yourself 5 or 10 minutes to really focus on that food. We all claim we are ‘foodies’ and love food, but we are all so distracted, we barely give the food a second thought. So, next time try no social media, no work emails- just the food. This lets us really tune in to our hunger signals and really increases the feelings of satisfaction after the meal.
What we are snacking on
The other area ‘snackers’ can run into trouble is what they are snacking on. While meals are generally easy to ensure they are nutrient dense and tick all the boxes, often snacks can be processed, packaged, nutrient-poor options. So, if you are going to snack, see it as an opportunity to nourish your body, as opposed to just filling the gap with whatever you can find. In other words, be prepared!
What constitutes a good snack? Something that contains proteins, fats and possibly some good quality carbohydrates, but low enough in sugar that it doesn’t send your blood sugars on a roller coaster.
Some good snacks include:
The list goes on!
Why are we snacking?
Are you snacking because you are generally hungry or are you just bored, stressed or perhaps you are using it as an excuse to be able to take a break at work?
Before you snack, ask yourself if you are truly hungry. If the answer is yes, then eat! If you aren’t, ask yourself what you really want. Maybe you need to get away from the desk for five or ten minutes to stretch your legs or maybe you are just bored and need something to do. Whatever it is you require, do it. Respect yourself enough to give your body what it really needs instead of using food as a consolation prize.
It isn’t so much the snack that is the problem, it is more ‘how’ ‘what’ and ‘why’ we are snacking on.
Research and popular science articles by the members and faculty of the Holistic Performance Institute.