Over the years, there have been many opposing opinions on one simple question: Is snacking good or bad for you?
Many studies have been conducted in efforts to answer this question, and the answer has remained the same: it depends. Some have argued that snacking boosts metabolism, but this hasn’t been proven. Others have argued that snacking increases weight gain or blood sugar, which also hasn’t been proven.
When it comes down to it, snacking is all relative to your lifestyle and eating habits. For some, snacking isn’t always necessary, for others, it’s required. The key to keeping your snacking habits on the healthier side is to listen to your body’s needs and to make mindful decisions on your snacking habits accordingly. Here are some ways you can maintain healthy snacking habits.
One of the first things you can do to snack more mindfully is to listen to your hunger cues. In this state, what kind of snacks do you gravitate to? Why? If you’re truly hungry, try choosing something with nutritional value and sustenance. The first step to establishing mindful snack habits is noticing what we want to eat and consciously making thoughtful decisions when choosing what we snack on.
Another way to moderate your snacking habits can begin long before you start feeling hungry for a snack. When preparing your grocery list, consider what kinds of snacks you want to have on hand and add them to the list. This way, you can consider which healthier snacks you have on hand to choose from when you are in need of a snack. Planning ahead can also help you regulate what types of snacks you have access to, which helps weed out less healthier snack options in your cupboards.
Pay Attention to Portion Size
One of the main problems people have with snacking is their intake amount. Snacking by definition means to eat or drink something between meals, so when we snack, it’s important to pay attention to portion size. Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, and as a result our snacks turn meal-sized. If this is a concern for your snacking habits, measure out your snack portion instead of munching directly from the bag.
Choose Snacks that Boost Your Nutrition Shortfalls
Snacking is not only a stop-gap to stave off hunger, but it provides an opportunity to fill up on nutrients you may have missed during your meals. If you noticed that your last meal didn’t have enough veggies, your snack is an opportunity to fill up on that nutrition shortfall. Snacking habits are framed by your outlook, so if we reframe our outlook to consider snacks as an opportunity to nurture your body with healthy nutrients, it’ll help your body and mind feel good.
Don’t Forget to Hydrate
Sometimes, our first instincts of hunger are actually thirst. If you find yourself feeling hungry, try drinking water first before reaching for a snack. You’d be surprised how often our feelings of hunger can be confused with thirst. Also consider keeping a water bottle close by for a visual reminder that you may not be hungry but need to be hydrated first.
Allow Yourself to Indulge Occasionally
Some days, you may just really want a snack of chips or chocolate, and that’s perfectly okay! Be kind to yourself and your body and allow yourself to indulge occasionally. Showing self-compassion to your mind and body will last longer than your bout of hunger. The sooner you satisfy your craving, the faster you can move on from it.
Snacking can be a healthy habit especially for those of us who tend to overeat when we’re hungry. However, snacking isn’t for everyone. Snacking is a personal choice, and if you prefer to snack during your day, try doing it mindfully and compassionately. The more love we show to our bodies, the more we’re able to thrive.
Written by Eleni Zaptses
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