Is snacking good or bad for you? The truth is, a healthy snacking habit can help you manage your weight and balance your diet.
The snacking camp appears to be quite divided, which baffles Susan Bowerman, director of Nutrition Education and Training at Herbalife. Bowerman says, “I’ve always been solidly in the pro-snacking camp and I just assumed that most people felt the same way about healthy snacking. But some of my clients seem almost offended if I suggest that they snack. For a long time, I couldn’t make sense of this until it struck me. To some, snacking means eating when you’re not hungry which, of course, is bad. To others, the question ‘Do you eat snacks?’ is heard as ‘Do you eat snack foods?’ which may explain why they get defensive. It sounds as if I’m accusing them of loading up on unhealthy snack foods like chips, cookies and sweets.” Bowerman’s take on snacking is that when it’s done right, snacking can be a healthy habit that can help you manage your weight and balance your diet.
Five reasons why smart snacking can be a healthy habit
- Prevent you from overeating at meal time
Most of us get hungry every three to four hours. So, if there’s a long stretch between meals, you’re likely to get hungry, which is why a snack would be appropriate. Without a healthy snack, there’s a good chance you’ll just make up for it by overeating at your next meal.
- Reduce your overall kilojoule intake for the day
Sometimes people figure that they’re just going to add snacks (and their kilojoules) right on top of everything they’re already eating. But if a well-planned, healthy snack helps you eat less at mealtimes, then you’ll cut your over daily kilojoule intake overall.
- Work more healthy foods into your day
This is usually my strongest argument for those who resist snacking or who skip meals altogether. The more often you eat, the easier it will be to work in your daily servings of healthy foods like vegetables, fruits and calcium-rich dairy products.
- Maintain your physical and mental energy
When you eat regular meals and snacks, it can help keep your blood sugar more stable throughout the day. That’s a good defence against between-meal dips in blood sugar that can sap your mental and physical energy.
- A substantial afternoon snack can help control portions at dinner
Lots of people manage to control their eating pretty well during the day, but really cut loose at night and eat a huge dinner. For those folks, a larger afternoon snack (almost a small second lunch) makes it much easier to cut back at the evening meal.
Snacking is not healthy when:
- You’re eating unhealthy, high energy foods like sweets, chips and cooldrinks.Not only can these high-kilojoule snack foods contribute to weight gain, they offer little, if any, nutritional value.
- You’re eating for reasons other than hunger.Snacking wisely means that you choose healthy foods to eat between meals to help control your appetite and meet your nutritional needs. But if you tend to snack when you’re not hungry (maybe you’re bored, stressed, angry or tired), it’s a habit you might want to think about breaking.