Make wise choices when you snack

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - GARDENING -

Q: I have re­cently read that it’s best to stick only to main meals and not snack through the day, is this true? Thanks, Kelly.

Snack­ing suits some peo­ple’s di­etary needs while not oth­ers. Some peo­ple feel fan­tas­tic eat­ing three main meals each day while oth­ers make bet­ter choices and eat an amount that is more ap­pro­pri­ate to their needs by eat­ing five or six smaller meals per day. The key is to no­tice how YOU feel.

A com­mon chal­lenge many peo­ple de­scribe with snack­ing is what they can choose when they are in a hurry. Why you’re snack­ing also plays a part. Is it gen­uine hunger or are you meet­ing an emo­tional need?

Since our stom­ach stretches to ac­com­mo­date food, it then ex­pects the same amount of food be­cause it has be­come used to be­ing stretched to this size. It is there­fore best not to overeat at our other meals sim­ply to avoid snack­ing. Some peo­ple won’t need snacks be­tween their meals be­cause they won’t be hun­gry, but


oth­ers will need to keep their blood sug­ars sta­ble and need to have some­thing handy to snack on.

There are two main things to con­sider here.

Firstly, if we are eat­ing real, whole food and mak­ing sure the meals we choose are full of nu­tri­ents, in­clud­ing some kind of good fat and pro­tein, we are likely to be sus­tained by that meal for longer. If, for ex­am­ple, you’re eat­ing a ba­nana or a piece of toast and a cof­fee for break­fast, you’re most likely go­ing to be starv­ing and need some­thing to sus­tain you to get you through to lunch. On the other hand, if you have a break­fast of eggs, av­o­cado, some greens and a hand­ful of nuts and seeds you’re likely to feel fuller for longer and may not need the snack.

Most peo­ple fall into the first ex­am­ple cat­e­gory and eat on the run, choos­ing foods that aren’t go­ing to sus­tain them. Then they get to morn­ing or af­ter­noon tea time and they’re so rav­en­ous they’re about to eat their own arm off and they need some­thing fast. In these cir­cum­stances, the snack choice we make is of­ten go­ing to be some­thing sug­ary or sim­ple car­bo­hy­drate based since our body prompts us to look for the thing that’s go­ing to give us the most amount of en­ergy as quickly as pos­si­ble.

The sec­ond thing to con­sider is the type of snack we choose. If we don’t eat suf­fi­ciently at break­fast or lunch our body is prob­a­bly go­ing to be scream­ing for quick fuel and we’ll want to reach for that muf­fin or those choco­late cov­ered bis­cuits. Re­gard­less of whether we’ve eaten well for break­fast and lunch or not, if we

reach that mid­point be­tween meals and find we’re not go­ing to be able to hold out till the next meal time, we still have the op­por­tu­nity to choose some­thing nour­ish­ing to snack on.

A small hand­ful of nuts or half an av­o­cado with some good qual­ity crack­ers or veg­etable sticks dipped into hum­mus will be much bet­ter snack choices to main­tain our blood sug­ars and see us through to the next meal than a cou­ple of bis­cuits and an­other cof­fee.

Dr Libby is a nu­tri­tional bio­chemist, best-sell­ing au­thor and speaker. The ad­vice con­tained in this col­umn is not in­tended to be a sub­sti­tute for di­rect, per­son­alised ad­vice from a health pro­fes­sional. Visit dr­


If we eat real, whole food and make sure the meals we choose are full of nu­tri­ents, in­clud­ing some good fat and pro­tein, we are likely to be sus­tained by that meal for longer.

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