A common misconception, or rather controversy found among the people today is that snacking between meals only leads to weight gain. This is primarily due to the fact that snacks are usually thought to belong to the junk foods group. This concept is not entirely true as the term healthy snacks are becoming more and more trending among the people who are conscious about their health.
Snacking is a very essential component of our daily diet. The general routine followed worldwide is of meals three times a day, but because of various reasons, this routine may get disturbed, or somehow the required amount of calories is not fulfilled. In cases like these, snacking can play a pivotal role by filling the gaps in nutrition.
The importance of healthy snacks can be elaborated through the following benefits:
They keep you from overeating
Anytime you feel like you are getting a bit hungry during a gap between your meals (let\’s say lunch and dinner), instead of waiting for the next meal and getting even more hungry, eat a small healthy snack to keep you going. In this way, you are saved from overeating and consequently gaining unwanted calories at your next meal. Hence snacking helps you regulate your hunger and cravings.
They help you manage blood sugar levels
It is recommended that you consume snacks having a mixture of complex carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. The reason for this is that the simple sugars cause a spike in your blood sugar levels which can drop as fast as they are elevated. This sudden drop in the let sugar levels can cause fatigue and lethargy. For this reason, it is crucial to maintain the blood sugar with controlled intake of calories through healthy snacking.
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Quality, not Quantity
The purpose of snacking is to satisfy the body’s sensation of hunger In between the main meals. Another important factor is to eat small portions of food that fulfill the calorie requirement. Keeping this in mind, we also have to consider the number of calories we are taking through snacks. The normal limit is 100 calories halfway between meals. In some special cases, for example when you have to skip a meal or when you have to substitute your meal with a quick snack, then the limit to be taken can be increased to about 250 calories.
As is the case with overeating, similarly over-snacking can also lead to weight gain. This is why even snacking must be done with proper consideration and moderation. You should never eat snacks out of boredom or if you are going through some emotional stress. This is the most common cause of obesity especially among teenagers who have a lazy lifestyle.
We now understand that snacks make up the major portion of our daily calories. Hence the choice of snack types and the nutrients they contain is crucial. Just like a well-planned diet, we should also carefully plan our healthy snacks, including something from all the major food groups. Among these are the fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, high protein foods, and foods from the grain class such as crackers and bagels.
Even though you can have a less than healthy snack (junk food) every now and then, you should always make sure that most of your snacks have a high nutrient density.
Healthy snacks are the best source of energy throughout our daily busy routines, either at home or during work. The key is to know what to eat and at what time. Also, these snacks are significantly important when you are traveling. So it\’s good to keep some fruit or any other snack with you when you go out.