Benefits of Snacking
Snacking could be seen a bit of a controversial topic!
Some people think is a good thing while others think it’s not necessary and that it has some disadvantages.
As a Nutritional Advisor and Eating Behaviours Coach I’m all for snacking and I recommend people do it!
In this video, and the blog below, are 7 benefits of snacking and 3 quick tips for snacking well.
7 Benefits of Snacking
1. Snacking keeps blood sugar stable. When your blood sugars are stable, you’re far less likely to reach for quick fixes. When you’re about to start making dinner, but you’re actually really hungry and you don’t feel like waiting for 20 minutes, it’s so easy to end up nibbling. In the best-case scenario, you might nibble some of the ingredients you are cooking, at worst you may find yourself reaching for chocolate, sweets, crisps or anything else that you can easily grab, even though dinner is about to be served. But if you snack through the day, your blood sugars remain more stable and so you’re not as starving when you come to mealtime. You’re pleasantly hungry, but you can wait.
2. Because it keeps your blood sugars more stable, snacking can actually help to prevent some diseases. There’s lots of evidence to show that if your blood sugar levels are stable, your cholesterol will also be lower, so by snacking you can perhaps prevent some more serious diseases that can result from higher cholesterol.
3. Snacking can boost brain power. When you are sat at your desk at 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon and you’re flagging, you might be tempted to reach for some chocolate, crisps, a soft drink or a coffee, because you just feel like you need something to give you a boost. This doesn’t have to be unhealthy and mid-afternoon is a good time to snack. Your brain will really benefit from a small, healthy snack that will get you over that fatigue and you will have more energy to carry on working. The key, of course, is to choose something that will boost your brain’s power without sending it on a spike that’s quickly followed by a crash, leaving you feel worse than you did in the first place. It’s important to make sure at that moment, that you snack on something small but healthy.
4. Snacking is a chance to get the full range of nutrients into your diet. It’s great if you are already getting the full range of good stuff that God has given us into your meals, but the chances are there are probably still some things you are missing. Snacking is an opportunity to eat the full rainbow of fruit and vegetables or to add in some healthy fats, extra protein or calcium. Think about what you’re missing from your day; maybe you missing some purple in your fruit and vegetables or maybe you’re not having healthy fats in your meals. You can use the snack as an opportunity to get those nutrients in.
5. Snacking can enable you to exercise at any time. It’s hard to exercise when you’re feeling hungry; it’s also hard to exercise when you’re feeling really full, but if you’re hungry and low on energy then exercise is the last thing that you’ll want to do. Knowing that you can snack before exercise if you need to can help. Eating half an hour to 15 minutes before you work out is fine, depending on the size of the snack. Alternatively, you can snack straight away after exercise. Either way this can be quite liberating, giving you more flexibility in your day.
6. Also on the topic of exercise, snacks are a great aid for recovering muscles. If you’ve had a particularly hard work out where your muscles have really been used and fatigued, then it’s an ideal time to have a snack that contains some protein so that your muscles can rebuild themselves afterwards.
7. And finally, another benefit of snacking is that you will make healthier and wiser choices at your mealtimes. When you’re not starving hungry, when your blood sugar levels aren’t low, when you feel satisfied and you’ve had some good healthy snacks, then it’s highly likely that you’ll make healthier, wiser choices at mealtimes. You also won’t overeat because you won’t go into that meal really hungry and overload your plate; instead you’ll eat a more balanced meal.
3 Quick Tips for Snacking
- Remember that snacks are snacks, not meals. Snacks need to be relatively small – think of healthy cereal bar or Nakd Bar – that’s the kind of size you should be aiming for. Some ideas for healthy snacks include a piece of fruit and a few nuts; a healthy natural snack bar, half a banana and something else; some Greek yoghurt and a few berries; some carrot sticks and a small pot of hummus.
- Always drink a glass of water with your snack, so you get a ‘double whammy’ of benefits.
- Make sure that your snacks are adding healthy nutrients into your day. Of course, there’s a time and place for snacking on other things, but in general, when you’re snacking to get more energy and to get some of those benefits shared above, it’s important to make sure your snacks are adding value to your overall eating.
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