Many opinions exist whether snacks should be incorporated into a daily meal plan. Although there are no set rules, for some having a snack or two planned between meals may assist in keeping hunger levels under control and maintaining blood sugar levels. As with anything related to your food intake, what and how much is being consumed is important.
Many people perceive snacks as quick, go-to foods which usually include prepackaged, over-processed foods such as chips, crackers or granola bars that aren’t always healthy food sources. Shifting your perception of snacks to whole foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy and nuts, which are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber, helps to balance food intake and provide nutrition.
Knowing when you may have slumps in energy, blood sugar levels or times when you find yourself hungry helps you to decide if snacks are a good choice for you. Planning is necessary so you are not caught without healthy snack options. Balancing what is consumed during snacks and meals also maintains a balanced diet. Some people find it is more helpful to think of a snack as a small meal balancing carbohydrate intake, protein or healthy fat intake and vegetable intake so that the body and mind both feel satiety.
No hard, fast rules apply to snacking. It is best to know yourself, if your energy, blood sugar or hunger levels change through the day, so that you may plan your snacking accordingly. Choosing foods that are in their most natural state is going to provide the most nutrition, and having healthy choices on-hand helps you to steer you clear of grabbing over-processed, under-nutritious food choices. Happy Snacking!
By: Molly McBrayer, Clinical Manager, Roper St. Francis Bariatric and Metabolic Services