Snacking isn’t „bad“ if you have the right approach, in fact, snacking is an important part of daily routine. One can enjoy snacks in various ways, and snaking is especially good to keep one’s body energized while providing important essential nutrients. With healthy choices and proper moderation, snacks can help curb hunger, and prevent overeating.
To get the most out of snacking, as always, we need to answer two questions:
When Should We Snack?
What Should We Snack On?
Here are ten simple tricks or strategies if you prefer (called it rules) on how to snack smart and healthy.
#1 Snack when you are hungry
Given that stomach needs around three to four hours to empty, if your next meal is in five hours away, you should snack a little. Snacking between meals does not imply you should spoil your next meal, it means you should eat enough to satisfy your hunger, but leave the space for planned meal. Snacks should not became dinner or lunch – snacks are good to provide energy you need.
#2 Snack when you need energy
It may happen that your meal didn’t provide enough energy (calories) to keep you on your feet, concentrated and focused, to get the work done until your next meal. When the meal is low in beneficial nutrients, you will feel tired, exhausted and cranky. Snacking is especially important if you are burning your energy fast during the day. Going for coffee for quick boost is not recommended, snacking on dried fruits or nuts is far way better option.
#3 Snack when your blood sugar gets low
When meals are high in sugar (starch) you may get hungry shortly after you have eaten, because your blood sugar gets lower, apart from triggering false hunger alarm. Those who have hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar, may feel nauseous and dizzy, thus a small bite will raise the blood sugar level. Opt for an apple, or carrot, do not snack on something with sugar.
#4 Forget snacking when sad, bored, or mad
Emotional eating and snacking bring the worse nutritional results. Eating as well as snacking is a process that activates different processes in the body, and when eating under pressure or stress, very often it will result in disorders of the digestive system. If you feel that you are emotionally snacking, try to think about how you feel, and acknowledge that your emotions are ruling both your body and mind. Try to be self-compassionate and positive, employ your will power to restrain from snacking in these situations.
#5 Avoid snacks high in calories
Snacks are rich in essential nutrients, not necessarily high in calories (although some nutrient-rich snacks are high in calories). Snacks rich in salt, sugar, and fat are not healthy snacks; this includes sugary beverages, chips, buttered popcorn, cookies, French fries, granola bars, and more. These foods only add extra calories without increasing your energy. There is the list of healthy snacks you should consider.
Apples and Breadsticks
Carrot and celery sticks
Unsalted rice cakes
Green pepper sticks
Low-sodium tomato or mixed vegetable juice
Seeds and salty snacks
Unsalted sunflower seeds
Whole-grain breads or toast
Low-fat or fat-free cheese
Plain, low-fat or fat-free yogurt
Unsalted almonds, walnuts and other nuts
#6 Snacking implies mindfulness
Snacking easily becomes a habit, and if not understood properly, it becomes a bad one. Snacking is also somewhat automatic, but habits are noticeable, which means that mindfulness snacking will help one perceive those habits. Spend some time thinking when and why do you snack. Noticing your snacking habits will help you get rid of bad habits.
#7 Snacking knows no ideal time
Although one can notice “snacking patterns” related to time, and need, in fact there is no ideal time for snacking. Some believe snacking is a bad idea between lunch and breakfast, others think that the perfect time to snack is between lunch and dinner, and so on. What many often forget is that every person has different metabolism and different needs, and one should know his or hers needs the best.
#8 Food first, than snacks
Unfortunately, and due to numerous reasons, very few people respect a 3-meal-a-day system. A meal might often be a better choice than snacks, especially if you do not fall in this meal category system. To fuel your body with essential nutrients, think carefully whether it’s time for a real meal or a healthy snack. Do what you think is the best for your body.
#9 Think healthy snacks on the go
Bars made from fruits and nuts are not the same as whole fruits and nuts. Healthy snacks you can find in markets and grocery stores always include preservatives or something similar, so, read the labels, especially the first five ingredients listed. On the other hand, one can find a healthy trail mix, such as those that include dry-roasted root vegetables that are great snacks. You can also make one yourself with dried fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grain cereals.
#10 Always plan ahead
Time is precious, and the better you are prepared the smarter you can use your time. Do not allow yourself to run around during your lunch break in search for healthy nutrient-rich snacks – bring healthy snacks with you. Use little containers or pouches to secure snacks. Listen to your body and learn what your body needs. Prepare yourself in advance.
REMEMBER: Snacking is optional, and as already pointed out, we all have different metabolisms, and our organisms function differently. It may happen that snacks are not what you need to include in your nutritional plan, or not as often as you think you should. Snacking also depends on our daily habits, work we do and social life. If one tends to get very hungry between meals, snacking is a good option, but if don’t, there is no reason one should snack.