Is snacking healthy?

The snack investigation you never knew you needed

So… is snacking considered healthy now? 

To quote your grandparents’ favorite adult diaper: it depends.

Food is fuel and how it fuels you largely depends on the kind of food, when you ingest it and what you need it for. 

“One reason snacking has such a bad rap is that so many common ‘snack foods’ are high in fat, sugar, salt and calories. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, many health-conscious consumers already stayed away from these types of products; now however people are stocking up on whatever is available at the grocery stores—changing the way we all eat. Even with these limitations, the important thing to remember is that choosing the right foods—even when we’re snacking—will allow us to maintain our health during these uncertain times,” Susan Bowerman writes.

“While some people think all snacking is bad—probably because they equate snacking with snack foods—I’ve always been solidly in the pro-snacking camp. For one, a small nutritious, balanced snack can help keep you energized between meals and help control your hunger at mealtimes. When the foods you choose are appropriate, if you are truly hungry, and if you’re able to maintain healthy snacking habits, that’s one less thing to worry about during this pandemic.” 

Designing a snacking strategy requires a few hacks. Be resourceful about sourcing your merienda, make time to review what you’re consuming and take control of your habits.

Bowerman, a registered dietitian with an MS, offers a few tips on how to snack smart: 

Healthy snacking can help you to work more nutritious foods into your day

“Think of it this way: the more often you eat, the easier it will be to incorporate your daily servings of healthy foods like vegetables, fruits and calcium-rich dairy products. Use this opportunity to turn snacking into a healthy practice by preparing food that provide a mix of low-fat protein (like nuts, soy protein products or nonfat dairy foods) and healthy carbohydrates (like fruit, vegetables and whole grains). The carbs will get digested first and satisfy your hunger right away, and the protein will give your snack a bit more staying power.”

Snacks can fuel your physical and mental energy

“It’s normal to get hungry every three to four hours. When you eat regular meals and snacks, it can help keep your blood sugar more stable throughout the day. That’s a good defense against between-meal dips in blood sugar that can sap your mental and physical energy.”

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