Why snacking? Clients often ask me!! As people think of healthy eating, snacks don’t usually come to mind. This is probably because of misconception that when you want to eat healthy, you have to eat less.
There’s also the fact that people often think of fast food, fried snacks, pre packed chips, namkeens, cookies, cakes, mithai,left-over food, soft drinks, bottled juices when they think of snacks.
Snacking refers to the intake of foods during the day other than your main meals. A snack mainly consists of small portions of food in between meals. It can be in the form of low calorie beverage also. You can say,snacking is when you consume food or beverages distributed between regular meals. Snacking can be healthy or unhealthy, it depends how hungry you are and what is available at that particular moment.
We snack for many reasons, the primary of which is to slave off hunger. As hunger is the main cause or motivation behind snacking, but at the same time location, social environment, time of the day and food availability contributes as well.Snacking is not only normal, but it is also an absolutely health endeavor, as long as the nutritional value of the snack is beneficial.
Usually people avoid snacking because they are afraid that snacks contribute to weight gain, health issues, deficiency of some nutrients. However, a healthy snack can offer health benefits; snacks can also be included in a weight loss plan. The trick is to choose a snack within or below 100 to 130 calories and with a combination of complex carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats.
Aim is to eat your snack about halfway between meals to keep energy levels consistent. A healthy snack made up of complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats increases your energy levels for a longer period of time than sugary snacks do.
This is because sugar will cause your blood sugar to rise and then fall leaving you lethargic, restless and hungry. All these macro nutrients are a stable source of energy and including them in a healthy snack helps you power through your tasks between meals.
Eating a healthy snacks allow you to add your intake of essential nutrients. Fruits, vegetables, nuts provide you with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Iron ,fibre and fill your stomach with very few calories.They are also important for immunity building, wound healing, etc.
Benefits of snacking
1. Snacking can be beneficial as they can increase nutrient intake, sustain energy levels, helps the body to recover from exercise and give individuals plenty of healthy options.
2. Consuming healthy snacks can help the body to recover after exercise, feel happier and allow you to maintain more energy throughout the day.
3. Snacking can lower the risk of some diseases. Snacking on healthy bites during the day might even decrease risk of developing heart disease, disorders like diabetes and obesity.
4. Snacking can be beneficial to people who are struggling with blood sugar levels. After eating a snack, blood sugar levels will spike and then decrease. Snacks can prevents ones blood sugar levels from dropping too much between meals. One should look for high fibre and high protein snacks. This snack is slow to digest which will prevent fluctuation of blood sugar levels which is very important for diabetic persons.
5. Adding healthy snacks between meals increases focus and performance both at school or work and home. It may also manage hunger and improve blood sugar regulation.
6. Snacking can boost cognitive focus throughout the day by helping us maintain blood sugar levels. Our bodies digest whole foods that include fats, proteins and fiber at a slower and more consistent rate and therefore release a steadier stream of glucose to the brain.
7. Snacking prevents overeating and aids weight loss, as you are eating small frequent calculated healthy meals.
8. Snacking lessens unhealthy cravings as it help increase intake of nutrient rich foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, low fat milk products.
9. Snacking is very important for elderly as there digestion system becomes weak, not able to consume whole meal at one go. For elderly meals can be served after 2 hours, including healthy drinks, soft foods.
Lots of quick and healthy snacks packed with nutrients are available in market. These include roasted channa, roasted makhana, roasted peanuts, murmure,dryfruits, sprouts, fruits, vegetables, oats, sattu, squinoa, poha, jaggery, seeds. But lots of people doesn’t know how to make it more delicious and palatable, as eating same bland snacks again and again can make them boring , not wanted to eat and will result into unhealthy snacking.
There are plenty of snacks available to buy , but they can be expensive and not always available when required.By making your own healthy snacks at home, one can save money and know exactly what’s going into them. The best part of making in-house healthy snacks is they are tasty, palatable and hygienic. Preparing snacks ahead of time and leaving them in the fridge will save on time and when you need a quick pick up before leaving and after leaving the house, they are readily available. It can also help you choose the healthier snack over the unhealthy snack, that will lead to consuming more nutrient dense foods throughout the day further can help improve your health.
Healthy snacks available will prevent people from getting too hungry with junk foods as the only option left.Some easy snacks to have on hand are whole fruits, cut vegetables, cottage cheese and whole grain crackers. Even though these snacks are healthy, it does not mean you can eat an enormous amount of them. If eating extra, it is quite possible to still gain weight. Mindless snacking can have a negative impact on our energy, mood and overall health. We should choose for mindful snacking.
List of snacks within 100 to 130 calories
1. Idli chaat
2. Makhana chaat
3. Spicy corn and bean salad
4. Overnight oats
5. Crunchy sprouts
6. Marinated tomato and peanut bite
7. Carrot chilli and raisin salad
8. Granola bar
9. Mango Salsa
10. Protein Kick (Different Beans)
11. Oats soup
12. Mango panna (using gur)
14. Cottage cheese and beetroot bite
15. Beetroot tikki
16. Yogurt ,cucumber, seeds salad
For the best results of snacking
1. One should plan their meals and snack in advance.
2. One should portion snack size ahead.
3. One should get a list of healthy options.
4. Educate oneself the advantages of snacking.
5. Listen to your body hunger cues; do not imitate other diet plan.
6. Have positive approach, believe in mindful eating and yourself.
Healthy snacking improves overall health, curbs cravings, fights weight gain, regulates mood, boosts brain power and gives you the energy you need to keep going all day. Remember, “YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT”.
AUTHOR IS A SENIOR CONSULTANT DIETICIAN
VIMHANS HOSPITAL, DELHI
MOBILE NO: 9871198734
(Note: For the recipes of healthy snacks, inbox to the given email ID.)