It’s four in the afternoon, you’re hungry, and dinner is still two hours away. While you’d love to have just one little snack to hold you over until dinner, you know that snacking is a no-no, right? Wrong. One of the biggest myths about snacking is that it’s bad for you. Snacking between meals can actually be very healthy and can even help with weight loss―the opposite of what many believe to be true. Plenty of studies show that small, frequent meals throughout the day may be healthier for your body than the typical three large meals. The key to eating between meals lies in the idea of “smart snacking”.
Tips for smart snacking:
Portion control: A snack should be between 100-200 calories and contain significant amounts of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. If your usual snack makes you feel full, it is probably too big of a portion. A snack should only curb your hunger, not fill you up.
Fill up with protein and fiber: The reason for this is simple. Protein and fiber-filled snacks slow digestion time and help you to feel full longer. Protein helps maintain muscle mass while also helping to keep your metabolism high. In turn, your body will burn more calories.
Timing is everything: Snacks should be eaten two to three hours before the next meal and should only take the edge of your hunger. Good timing can help prevent you from overeating at the next meal.
Be a mindful snacker: Be aware of how much you’re eating, and listen to your body when it’s full. Avoid snacking while eating in front of the television and don’t just snack on something because it tastes good or you’re bored.
Eat “healthy” foods: Look to consume snacks that are nutrient dense, such as fruits or vegetables. Read the labels, and if the ingredient list is incredibly long, it’s probably not a smart choice.
Overall, smart snacking is about selecting nutritious foods that will fuel your body while remembering to control your portions.
Katie Pullar, Senior Dietetic Student
Allen Anderson, RD