Taking the Stigma out of Snacking
by NatureBox Nutritionist Kat Brown, MS RD RYT
Remember the old diet rule- no snacks between meals? But what if you get hungry in the long stretch between those three squares? Or have a sport that you need to fuel up for? Or have little ones with growing bodies? Rule-based thinking about not snacking, for adults, sets up a push-pull dynamic of ignoring hunger cues, and potentially getting too hungry-which is a setup for overeating later in the day. And snacking is essential for growing bodies to get the nutrients they need. Let’s review some tips and research to help you think about snacking in a new light, and optimize your snacks for great nutrition.
To munch or not to munch…
Benefits of snacking abound. Research shows that snacks can provide essential nutrients you may not get in during meals, as they are an opportunity to fit in more variety, whole grains and fruit and vegetable servings. Studies also show that people who eat snacks may be more effective in managing their weight. This may be because snacking helps to keep our hunger and energy levels on an even keel throughout the day. And if you’ve ever felt a case of the “hangries” you know how important snacking can be for your mood- because nobody is happy when they’re overly hungry.
Unfortunately, for many, snack time has become time for processed foods and sugary drinks that might leave us feeling not so great. So how can you freshen up the snack routine? First, think of snacks as mini-meals- include nutrient-rich foods as snacks just as you would at meal times. Plan snacks ahead of time- keep cut veggies, fresh fruit, nuts, trail mix, yogurt, or whole grain crackers or pita bread on hand for between meal noshing. Plate your snacks and eat them mindfully so you can listen to your body’s cues (and teach your family to do the same) for hunger and fullness. And of course, include fun, sweet or treat foods regularly so you don’t feel deprived.
Remember, every time you eat is an opportunity to improve your health- so snack away! Enjoy your snacks and let us know what you’re munching on!
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