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To snack or not to snack?

Don’t starve. Snack!

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

What is snacking?

Many think of snacking as eating junk food in between meals. Under this light, we can all agree that snacking is unhealthy.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. 

In fact, the meaning of the word snacking is simply eating a light meal or a small amount of food in between meals [1, 2]. No junk food required!

Snacking can actually be a safe strategy to keep hunger at bay while still caring for our health. We just need to focus on the right foods.

Check our 21 sweet and savory healthy snack ideas to kick-start your inspiration!


Who needs snacking?

To snack or not to snack? The answer varies from person to person but essentially, it all comes to one thing: hunger

Many people are perfectly fine with just three square meals a day, and they’ll do just fine without snacks. But some others do get hungry between meals and they need snacks to get them through the day.

This is especially true for those with high energy requirements like children, pregnant and lactating women, and highly-active people in general.

Now, before we go on, let’s make one thing clear: hunger doesn’t always mean that you need food.

Hunger can also be triggered by lack of sleep, dehydration, emotions like stress or boredom, or the sheer temptation induced by nearby food!

So keep your snacks for those episodes of physical hunger only, to avoid risking overweight and other health conditions. And if you still decide to snack, remember: snacking isn’t bad for youas long as you snack smart.


Why snacking?

Going hungry for a long time is NOT healthy.

When we’re physically hungry, our blood sugar drops and our brains don’t get enough glucose. That’s why we can’t think straight and we feel sluggish and short-tempered. 

Even for those trying to lose weight, starving is never a good idea:

  • When our blood sugar levels drop, our metabolism slows down which makes it even harder to lose weight
  • It makes us anxious and more likely to give up healthy eating altogether.
  • It normally backfires: ravenous hunger makes us crave high-calorie foods and triggers overeating.   

You don’t need to stop eating to stay healthy. You just need to eat the right things. 

If you’re hungry (physically hungry), eat. If you aren’t, don’t. It is that simple.


Just DON’T snack on junk

Healthy snacking doesn’t mean giving up our favorite junk snacks entirely.

But the regular consumption of junk food poses a huge burden on our health.

It increases our risk of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and even cancer. 

That’s because junk snacks load us with refined carbs, salt, unhealthy fats, and energy (calories) but they lack important nutrients like vitamins, fiber, protein, or healthy fats. 

So what do we consider junk food?

  • Sugary drinks. Soft drinks, boxed fruit juices, sweetened tea and coffee, they are overloaded with added sugars.

These liquid calories aren’t filling and they are one of the easiest ways to gain weight

Artificially-flavored and overly-sweetened breakfast cereals, granolas and granola bars are usual suspects with alarming amounts of added sugars, salt, and fat. Many are even low in fiber!

Choose wholesome products that are naturally tasty, low in sugar, and rich in fiber or protein (or both).

When used in excess, all added sugars are unhealthy for your blood sugar.

Honey, coconut sugar, palm sugar (gula melaka), raw cane sugar, brown sugar, agave syrup and molasses, among others, are as unhealthy as plain white sugar and should be consumed with caution.

Always choose whole-grain options like rolled oats, brown rice, and brown bread. 

  • Baked sweets. Commercially prepared pastries, cookies, and cakes usually contain large amounts of unhealthy fats, salt, and refined carbs.

We don’t have to tell you why that is bad for your health, do we?

  • Processed meats. Sausages, ham, bacon, beef jerky, salami, spam, and basically any meat that has been smoked, salted, cured, or canned contains molecules that aren’t usually present in fresh meat.

These substances are harmful to our health, increasing the risk of chronic diseases and premature death.

  • Deep-fried food. Snacks like potato chips, fried chicken, french fries, vadai, onion rings, curry puffs, and keropok are rich in artificial trans fat, the worst possible kind of fat in food.

They are also high in calories as they lose water and soak up oil during the frying process. Deep-fried foods are bad news for your heart and overall health.


Learn the right way to snack

Thankfully, snacking can be healthy and still delicious if we choose quality snacks that are filling, nutritious, and enjoyable

Foods that are low in calories and rich in fiber or protein make for excellent healthy snacks. Check out our 21 sweet and savory healthy snack ideas to get you started!

Also, follow our 13 practical tips for healthy snacking and bring your snack breaks to a whole(some) new level! 


Take-home messages

  • Not everybody needs snacks to support their daily life. Listen to your body and snack only when you’re physically hungry.

If your hunger is triggered by emotions or external factors, take a break and drink some water before giving in to your cravings. 

  • Go slow on highly-processed snacks like fast food, soft drinks, pastries, chips, and cookies.

They increase the risk of conditions like overweight, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer.

Looking for more healthy snack options? Check our Grain Forest recommendations for nutritious and delicious options for the whole family!

Healthy recommendations for you

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