Snacking for your Health

healthy snacks nutrition illuminated healthOne of the questions that I get asked often is whether or not you should snack. Truth be told, I actually encourage snacking, even with my weight loss clients. The days of low-calorie dieting are over! Eating fewer calories does nothing but cause more health problems. But thats another topic for another time. Anyhow, even if you don’t want to lose weight, but just live healthier, I would encourage snacking. In fact, healthy snacking helps to maintain energy levels, is good for digestion, and helps to prevent obesity and diabetes.

When it comes to the rules of snacking, its actually quite easy. Here is everything you need to know about healthy snacking.

1. Do not eat until the previous meal/snack has digested. This means that you should not pick on food all day long or even a few hours at a time. Do not eat out of boredom. If you constantly keep eating, then your body never gets a chance to digest the food, so that will make you feel heavy, bloated, and lethargic.

2. Eat every 3-4 hours. Yes, you have all heard this one before. It takes about 3-4 hours to digest your food, therefore, have smaller portions, but make it a point to eat regularly. Mid-morning snacks are optional and are based upon how early you have breakfast. I would definitely encourage a mid-afternoon snack, especially if you get a dip in energy levels around 3 or 4 pm. Eating regularly also helps with managing stress levels because you are more nourished. 

3. Ensure that your healthy snacks contain at least one carbohydrate and one protein source. It is important to combine protein and carbs at every meal and snack. Carbohydrates or carbs include fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains. Carbs are a great source of energy and nutrients, where as protein helps stabilise blood sugar levels, which also helps to prevent dips in energy levels and feeling ravenously hungry. 

4. Have you heard of false hunger? False hunger is when your mind thinks you are hungry, but your stomach is actually still digesting and metabolising. When it comes to snacking, you do have to be mindful and aware of your choices. I suggest drinking some water first and/or going for a brief walk to see if you are really hungry or if you were just thirsty and/or bored. Always think before you eat. 

5. The number one rule of snacking is that if you choose to snack, please avoid packaged and processed foods. This includes avoiding croissants, muffins, biscuits, etc. Click here for some great healthy snack ideas.

Follow these basic principles of snacking and you will notice a difference in how you feel. Whenever you eat, be sure to listen to your body and make healthy choices. When it comes to healthy eating, there is no such thing as “I will eat healthy tomorrow” because how you eat today will influence you feel tomorrow. By making healthier choices, you will feel your best, which in turn will naturally keep you motivated to eat healthier.

Health and happiness,

Varsha