Nov 27, 2023
How To Avoid Unhealthy Snacking?
It's true that the current generation has developed a greater tendency to snack. Due to the hectic and fast-paced lifestyles that many people lead these days, snacking can be a quick and easy way to satiate hunger or cravings while on the go.
Snacking is also made easier for people by the abundance of processed and packaged snack options. Additionally, the growing popularity of snacking may also be attributed to the influence of the media and advertising.
While having snacks can be a fun and essential part of our daily lives, it's important to make wise decisions in order to avoid the negative effects of overindulging in unhealthy snacks.
This blog post will discuss some useful advice on how to stop unhealthy snacking and make better decisions for your health.
WHAT IS SNACKING?
The practice of eating small meals in between is known as snacking. It usually entails consuming tiny portions of food that are chosen for their ease of preparation and consumption.
A variety of foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, chips, cookies, and other snacks, can be consumed as snacks at any time of day. Snacks can differ substantially in terms of their nutritional makeup and serving sizes, which can influence general dietary habits and overall health.
REASONS FOR SNACKING
Different people have different reasons for snacking, and a mix of social, psychological, and physical factors can have an impact.
The primary motivations for snacking are emotional factors (like stress, boredom, or comfort-seeking) or physical hunger (which is satisfied by snacking in between meals).
Some people snack as a social habit, while others do so to satisfy cravings (such as a sweet tooth or a salty desire). Snacking can be used to satisfy cravings, boost energy levels, and offer momentary pleasure, diversion, or satisfaction. When certain nutrients are lacking in their main meals, such as protein or fibre, some people turn to snacks to make up for it.
BENEFITS OF SNACKING
When consumed in moderation and with awareness, snacks can have a number of advantages. Among the possible advantages of snacking are:
1. Curbing hunger – Snacking can assist in controlling hunger in between meals (particularly if there is a prolonged interval between them), and in averting extreme hunger that could trigger overindulgence in subsequent meals.
2. Energy boost – Snacking at the right moment can give you an energy boost, particularly if you're exercising or feeling low.
3. Nutrient supplementation – You can use snacks as a chance to include extra nutrients in your diet by eating fruits, vegetables, or foods high in protein.
4. Improved mood – Eating a healthy snack can help maintain focus and improve mental clarity, especially when working or studying for extended periods of time. Snacking on specific foods, like those high in healthy fats can improve mood.
5. Portion control – Planning your snacks well will help you avoid overeating and control your portion sizes during meals.
6. Social and emotional enjoyment – In some circumstances, sharing snacks with others can bring comfort and pleasure as well as promote social bonding.
NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF SNACKING
While mindful snacking can be beneficial, overindulging in unhealthy or frequent snacking may have unfavourable consequences.
1. Weight gain: Snacking frequently on unhealthy, high-calorie foods can cause weight gain if it results in an excess of calories consumed beyond what the body requires.
2. Poor nutrient balance: An unbalanced diet deficient in important vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients can result from snacking on foods that are high in sugar, bad fats, and low in nutrients.
3. Increased risk of chronic diseases: Frequent consumption of processed snacks high in unhealthy fats, added sugars, and sodium raises the chance of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
4. Dental health issues: Snacking on sugary or sticky foods without proper oral hygiene can contribute to tooth decay and other dental problems.
5. Disrupted appetite regulation: Frequent snacking, especially on processed snacks that are high in added sugars and unhealthy fats, can disrupt the body’s natural hunger and fullness cues, making it more challenging to regulate overall food intake.
6. Emotional eating patterns: Reliance on snacking as a way to cope with emotions, stress, or boredom can contribute to unhealthy emotional eating patterns.
Note: It’s worth noting that the negative effects of snacking are more related to the quality and quantity of snacks consumed rather than snacking itself.
Fresh fruits - These provide natural sweetness, rich in fiber, vitamins and offer a variety of health benefits.
Raw/roasted nuts and seeds - They are packed with nutrients, proteins, and healthy fats, making them the satisfying and nutritious choice.
Vegetables – Crunchy vegetables like carrots, and cucumbers can be paired with a flavourful dip like hummus for a satisfying snack.
Rice cakes with nut butter, yogurt, boiled eggs, popcorn, homemade smoothies, mixed salad, and wholegrain crackers are some of the healthy snack options.
Chips, puffs and potato crisps (which are high in unhealthy fats, and sodium), Candy bars (loaded with sugars, fats and often low in nutritional content), Sugary drinks (sodas, colas, flavoured coffee and some fruits juices that can be high in sugars and low in nutritional value), Ice-creams and frozen dessert (high in sugars and unhealthy fats), processed pastries (doughnuts, cakes, cookies often contain high amounts of sugars, unhealthy fats, and refined flours), fast food items like pizzas, burgers, chicken nuggets, fries (tend to be high in unhealthy fats, sodium, and calories).
Measures to avoid unhealthy snacking habit:
1. PLAN AHEAD
One of the main reasons we reach out for unhealthy snacks is the lack of healthier alternatives readily available. To combat this, take some time to plan and prepare your snacks in advance. When you plan and prepare your snacks in advance, you can avoid impulsive snack choices, and choose nutritious options. By having healthy snacks readily available, you create an environment that promotes healthier eating habits and you’re more likely to make conscious and informed choices that support your well-being. Chop up fresh fruits and vegetables, portion out nuts and seeds, prepare homemade healthy snacks like granola bars, and energy balls.
2. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Oftentimes, we mistake thirst for hunger, which leads us to reach for snacks. By staying properly hydrated, you can avoid this confusion and determine when you’re genuinely hungry. Tuning into your body’s signals and eating when you’re truly hungry can prevent mindless snacking on unhealthy foods.
3. OPT FOR NUTRIENT-RICH FOODS
When you eat nutrient-dense foods, you feel satisfied and satiated, reducing the likelihood of cravings for unhealthy snacks. By including a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your diet, you nourish your body, provide it with the nutrients and long-lasting energy which help reduce the desire for unhealthy snacks.
4. PORTION CONTROL
Even with healthy snacks, portion control is crucial. Portion out snacks into separate containers or use small bowls to prevent overeating. Portion control allows you to prevent excessive calorie consumption that can lead to weight gain and other issues. Portion control can develop a healthier relationship with food, as it promotes mindful eating, helps you better balance your nutrient intake.
5. KEEP UNHEALTHY SNACKS OUT OF SIGHT
When unhealthy snacks are readily visible and easily accessible, they act as a constant reminder making it more difficult to resist the urge to snack on them. Avoid keeping unhealthy snacks visible such as on countertops, or in pantry shelves at eye level. Store them in less accessible places or replace them altogether with healthier alternatives. Out of sight, and out of mind can be an effective strategy in reducing the temptation for unhealthy snacking.
6. MINDFUL EATING
The practice of mindful eating promotes a healthier relationship with food and encourages mindful choices, reducing the likelihood of unhealthy snacking. By focusing on the present moment, you become more conscious of your food choices and the sensations associated with eating.
Avoiding unhealthy snacking doesn’t have to be an arduous task. By incorporating these practical tips into your routine, you can make smarter choices & overcome the temptation of mindless munching.