Most of us readily accept a snack offer, but the rest of us, meek and timid, experience a universal sense of guilt at the idea of consuming extra calories. We are here to say that there is nothing wrong in nibbling on something between meals. In fact, snacking is one way to satisfy your nutrient requirements and healthy snacking can offer you a whole lot of benefits!
For example, having a glass of milk amounts to 50% of your calcium requirement and crunching on a carrot fulfills your vitamin A requirement for the day. Snacking also helps in keeping your blood sugar stable throughout the day, preventing you from feeling too hungry and overeating during meals. If you sometimes find your energy level drop between meals, keeping your blood sugar level stable will help you feel energized and awake throughout the day. However, remember that snacks will add to your total calorie intake.
Here’s a tip. Do not judge calories by their size. Those mini-sized treats may not be as mini in calories as they seem. In snacking, a little may actually hurt. Did you know that just by consuming an extra of 38 calories per day more than your required energy intake, you will gain 10 kg in the next 5 years? Those extra 38 calories may come from half a biscuit, or one-eighth of your favorite chocolate milk bar!
Below are some tips that I hope will entice you to reach for an apple rather than a bag of chips (or a donut)…
HEALTHY SNACKING TIPS
- It is only considered a snack if it is 100 calories or less.
- Limit your snack to no more than 3 times a day.
- Drink a glass of water and wait for 15 minutes before deciding if you should snack. Dehydration symptoms often mimic those of hunger, so do not confuse the two.
- Learn to recognize true hunger. Try not to nibble when you are bored, upset or stressed. Keep yourself busy by going for a short walk or reading a book.
- Avoid eating when you are watching TV, working in front of the computer, reading or driving. This act of “mindless eating” can often cause people to eat more compared to if they were paying attention.
- Plan ahead. If you do not like the limited options available in the cafeteria or do not have time to buy your snack, bring your own. Pack a medium-sized fruit (roughly the size of your fist) like a banana, orange, pear or apple / a small tub of low-fat yoghurt / a small carton of low-fat milk / a handful (~30g) of raw, unsalted nuts / 3-4 plain cookies e.g. Marie / 2 cups of air-popped or low-fat microwave popcorn / 1 slice of bread with 1 tbsp of spread.
- Stock fresh fruits and low fat dairy instead of cookies/chips since you are more likely to snack on them if they are available.
- Avoid those processed / deep-fried / salted (high calorie, high sodium) snacks like potato chips (opt for “baked” if you must) “gorengan,” cookies, and pastries.
Like great great grandpa Darwin has theorized, having passed the test of natural selection, we are all survivors. Despite harsh living conditions and food scarcity, our ancestors survived. Our bodies are well designed to fight against insufficient food. But what about a little more food? Apparently not so much. Which is why it’s all the more important for us to be mindful of what we eat and make every calorie count. Happy (healthy) snacking!
Photo Credit: Google Images
This article was happily contributed by:
Delicia has a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and a BSc in Food Science and Nutrition. Her loves are simple: all things yummy and pretty. Oh, and she also fancies traveling. Delicia works as a freelance nutritionist and dietitian while pursuing her life purpose of fishing for many many more yummy things!