Snack Girl loves the photo above because it typifies how we abuse snacking. Mindless eating in front of the TV!
Put the chips DOWN, sir, and just watch the TV. Or, turn off the TV, and enjoy your chips!
For 2 years, I have read just about every piece of information I can find about snacking - from scientists, nutritionists, journalists, and even snack product marketing professionals.
My conclusion, so far, is that the way we snack in the U.S. is not healthy. An important snack habits study has shown that we are eat 350 more calories per day from SNACKS now than we ate 20 years ago.
This is not a healthy trend because as a nation because one out of three of us is overweight or obese. So, snacking on high calorie, low nutrient food is not good for you.
Now, for those of us who have managed to put the chips down (some of the time) - is snacking good for you?
I would say, yes! A healthy snack that does not add to your overall daily calorie intake but helps sustain you is a good thing. I would also say that being hungry for a while isn't such a bad thing either.
What many nutritionists advise is that a healthy snack between meals will stop a person from binge eating when they get super hungry. Basically, the regulation of calorie intake is easier with a healthy snack than without one.
That snack should be between 100-150 calories and consist of a mini-meal - for example not just an apple but an apple with peanut butter.
Personally, I find this to be true. For example, between breakfast (7 AM) and lunch (12 PM), I will have a snack around 10 AM of (for example) a hard boiled egg or a banana with a little peanut butter.
This morning snack keeps me going and thinking so I can write the words on this computer right now. Otherwise, I start to get really hungry and begin gnawing on my keyboard (not pretty).
Without that snack, I find that I am grumpier. Now, I am not the kind of person that obsesses about food and I don't keep tabs on whether my lunch has 100 fewer calories because of my snack - but I will say that I eat faster when I am painfully hungry and do not enjoy my food.
In this context, snacking is healthy.
But, most of the time, we are just running around grabbing something because we didn't plan and we know we can get a sugar, fat, salt fix just about anywhere we turn.
If this is your pattern, it is time to say, "No, I will not grab a Frappucino because I walk by Starbucks at 3 PM."
There has been research that suggests that 6 small meals a day is better for metabolism, etc. than three meals a day. But, who in THIS culture is going to have six small meals a day?
The "three meals plus snacks" eating construct is the social norm here in the U.S.A. and to live outside that framework would be very difficult.
So, is snacking good for you? Yes and no. Snacks have become a societal problem that add to our growing waist lines. If we all stopped junk food snacking, we would be much better off.
And, yes, snacks can be a great part of a healthy diet as long as you pay attention to what you put in your mouth.
What do you think of snacking? Is it a healthy or unhealthy practice?