Snack is a small portion of food eaten during the day to get energy or to fight those hunger pangs in between the meals. Snacking if done healthily can help you achieve body goals and if done wrong can bring you back to the starting line. There are a variety of snacking options available, and they come in a medley of forms like packaged snack foods or other processed food, as well as the items that are freshly prepared at home. Snacking has so many pros and cons (basically depends on the choices you make and the time at which you’re doing it ). Foods and beverages that provide most of the calories as snacks are not always nutritious ones. Make the calories count by embracing the healthier snack alternatives that fit the right sort of nutrients.
HOW SNACKING CAN DO GOOD FOR YOUR BODY?
The goods of healthy snacking can go a long way toward enhancing your health.
- ENERGY BOOST: Healthy snacks can give you the right energy boost when needed, but it depends on the choices you make. The food we eat has a high impact on our mental acuity and performance throughout the day. Choose the products blended with the right amount of protein, carbs, and fat. These snacks can keep you energized for hours.
- IMPROVES MENTAL CAPABILITIES: The snacks loaded with antioxidants, proteins and B vitamins provide exceptional support for concentration, memory, and cognition. Shun the foods rich in harmful trans fats and pick the ones rich in antioxidants and healthy fats for better concentration.
- BETTER MOOD: Choices you make will surely influence your mood. Foods rich in nutrients like folic acid, Vitamin C, magnesium and B-12 can have short or long term impact on your mood. So, better the nutrients, better the mood. Choose wisely!
These benefits of snacking can turn into the biggest obstacle as well. Snacking provides an energy boost. But, do we need it? If our meals are proper and nutrient-dense. We’ll not need that extra snack at all. So, better meal planning can help you to deal with this if you overdo snacking.
Scan your snack before you buy one : https:///2020/02/09/calories-arent-the-only-thing-that-matters/
WHY DO WE FEEL HUNGRY EVEN AFTER EATING?
- YOU’RE STRESSED: You’re not hungry sweety! You are just stressed. Stress is one of the biggest triggers for craving fat and sugar-laden foods. People use food to comfort and soothe themselves when they are stressed or dealing with an emotion which they either don’t want to handle or don’t know how to deal with at that time. That’s why an emerging deadline, an overbooked schedule or apprehension about a forthcoming event can drive us to grab that pack of chips or a chocolate bar, whether we recognize it or not. Avoid caffeine and refined sugar, and reach for healthy alternatives like banana, beans, and lentils, they are rich in B vitamins and can help you battle stress. You can even go for your favorite food with a little peanut butter.
- YOU’RE IN A BAD MOOD: Foods that are both high in fat and sugar are comfort foods A chocolate bar, a piece of cake, muffins, or that box of ice cream to comfort you from your recent breakup, disastrous job interview, bad presentations, or failed exam is your other reason to snack those high fats and high carb food. Most of us indulge in the fleeting delight of food to make ourselves content and fill the void. If you regularly use food to comfort you during the bad times, then writing a journal might help you. Write everything that troubles you. Always remember that food doesn’t solve any problem besides hunger. Choose healthy alternatives like whole-grain pasta and bread, which heaves the level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that elevates the mood and enhances calmness and serenity.
- YOU’RE BORED: Eating is a convenient and pleasure-inducing activity that can be done anytime, anywhere and sometimes just without the reason. Junk foods are our go-to snacks, they’re easily available and affordable. So, the first things we go for are packaged items and the junk-food which are not always healthy. If you’re mindlessly munching by your desk or sitting with a bowl of chips in front of the TV, then a little change in your activities might help. Go for a brisk walk or challenge yourself with the pushup or burpees to keep your mind away from sauntering over that chocolate box. Don’t practice distracted snacking and try to lessen the screen time to relish your meal and identify the body’s fullness signs. Healthy alternatives are always there, don’t overlook them. Keep the jar of nuts with you while you binge-watch your favorite Netflix series or on your desk where you spend most of your time. Fruits and veggies can also be a healthier alternative over any sugary or salty delight.
- TREAT YOURSELF WELL: We often reward ourselves with our favorite snacks for getting that promotion, pay raise, or just to celebrate anniversaries or birthdays. Treating yourself once a week is good for mind and body. But, it should not be overdone and healthy food options must be added in your cheat meal. Don’t fall in this trap of overindulgence, rather reward yourself with a massage, spa or shopping(who doesn’t love it). Grab a fruit for your sweet tooth or try some new healthy recipes (there are so many of them ) to satisfy your taste buds.
- YOU’RE DEHYDRATED: Not drinking enough water is the biggest reason behind those hunger pangs. You want your food to get absorbed correctly? Gulp that glass of water. Sipping sufficient water can help you breakdown your food properly and you will feel more satisfied with your meals. It’s common to confuse thirst with hunger and these two powerful cravings may cause you to devour more calories than required, which can hinder your weight loss goals. Sometimes, when you feel hungry between the meals, it’s not hunger but dehydration. Drink water whenever you feel hungry between the meals and then see, if the hunger persist then look for the available bite options. Pick healthier alternatives before indulging in the non-healthy ones. High water content foods like cucumber, watermelon, berries, grapefruit, etc might help you in this. Drinking water before meals can help you save those extra calories. But don’t consume too many liquid foods because they pass through your stomach more quickly than solid food so, and you will end up missing those fullness signals. Liquid foods do not have the same impacts in keeping you full and satisfied as solid foods do.
- HORMONAL CHANGES: Cheers ladies! Who knows that better than us? Hormonal fluctuations which most of the women feel while periods can cause them to eat more or not to eat anything at all. During this, the body craves more carbs and sugar. Having a chocolate bar or your favorite cheesecake will not do any wrong, after all, it’s your time. Try to substitute non-healthy alternatives with some healthy carbs and natural sweeteners, if you want to.
- SLEEP WELL DEAR!: Not getting adequate sleep can influence hormones related to hunger. Sleep-deprived people have a greater appetite and find it more troublesome to feel full. You’re also more likely to desire high-fat, high-calorie foods when you’re exhausted. To keep your hunger levels under control, aim for at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
- YOU LACK THE MAINS – PROTEIN, AND FIBER: Protein and fiber are important for appetite control and they also have hunger reducing properties that may automatically help you control the calories throughout the day. Try to add a good amount of protein and fiber for breakfast to avoid those hunger pangs later. Eating a big breakfast makes for smaller rises in blood sugar and insulin throughout the day. Higher the protein and fiber intake, the greater the fullness. Choose the products rich in protein and fiber.
- YOUR DIET IS LOW IN FAT: Eating fat may drive to a release of multiple fullness boosting hormones as fat plays a role in slowing the digestion and lingers for a longer period in your stomach. A low-fat diet can increase the cravings for high carbs and high sugar foods. Consume healthy fats like avocado, almonds, olive oil, eggs, etc.
- YOU EAT TOO FAST: Eating too fast can cause difficulty in digestion and provides less fullness. Most of the fast eaters have a great appetite and they tend to overeat or snack in between the meals. Eating leisurely and chewing wholly gives your body and brain more time to release anti-hunger hormones and convey fullness signals. Practice mindful eating to prevent excessive snacking.
These are a few reasons why people snack and snacking is not a bad decision if done right. Preferences you make while snacking plays a significant role in your diet and if you’re doing it mindlessly then it can bring you back to the starting point. Snacking can make it or break it! Make sure you make the best choice. You can go for three meals a day or five, it all depends on how you plan them. You can sort all five of them as you want. People snack at different times in a day and most of the night owls grab a packet of chips or a chocolate bar. Snacking is not a bad option if you know what you’re putting inside your body. High fats or sugar-loaded products usually add those extra calories in your diet without even satisfying your hunger. Make the most of it, by choosing the products rich in protein, carbs, and healthy fats. They will keep you full for longer periods. Most of the people have the habit of midnight snacking, which is NOT always healthy. Nighttime snacking can be provoked by boredom, hunger, binge eating disorder, and nighttime eating syndrome. Identify the cause and then look for solutions.
WHAT TRIGGERS THE URGE TO SNACK AT NIGHT AND WHY YOU SHOULDN’T BE DOING THAT?
- If you haven’t eaten enough throughout the day and your meals lack proper nutrition then odds of grabbing a quick snack at night rise. Plan your meals and know what you’re putting inside your body. Structured eating and sleeping times will help you spread your food intake throughout the day and you’ll feel less hungry at night. Planning your meals and healthy snacking can prevent you from making the wrong choices during the nighttime.
- Anxiety and Stress trigger hunger hormones. Be it exams or your job interview, nothing is worth stressing over, De-stress yourself. Practice yoga, stretching, breathing exercises, meditation, and hot baths to de-stress yourself. Using food to curb emotions is a bad idea. Stay Calm!
- Include a good amount of protein and fiber in your meals. These two mains can significantly influence your hunger levels. It will keep you satisfied throughout the day and prevent that mindless snacking at night.
- Throw the junk in the trash! If you’re prone to eating high-sugar, high-fat food at night, throw it out and replace it with the healthy alternatives. Store the nuts, berries, fruits, yogurt, etc to make the nighttime snacking healthy.
- Distract yourself! Keep your mind occupied and if you can’t resist to grab that cheesecake in the refrigerator during the breaks, try to challenge yourself with some light physical activity or finish those unwashed dishes or laundry. Keep yourself rapt to prevent rash snacking at night. Don’t just eat anything out of boredom because those calories also count.
- Night eating syndrome(NES) is a problem that combines overeating at night with sleep problems. With NES, the person eats a lot after dinner, has trouble sleeping and eats when they wake up at night. There are different factors responsible for this: Low appetite in the morning, Insomnia four or five nights a week, or depressed mood which gets worse during evening hours. Talk to your doctor regarding this if nothing else work’s out.
Snacking at day time, evening or night is NOT at all bad, if you’re making the right choices and getting your nutrients throughout the day, Eating out of boredom, anxiety, stress or sleepless nights is never a good plan. If you feel the urge to eat something before moving to the bed, pick the correct food that can help you sleep better and make those calories count. Conscious snacking can do good for you, having a healthy snack means you’re less likely to be starving when you sit down for the next meal. This means you’re more likely to eat slow, and this will help you to recognize the signs of fullness and prevent overeating.
Ask yourself if you’re just craving or feeling hungry? Don’t tangle these two emotions, otherwise, you’ll end up making the food choices you’re not supposed to make. A better understanding of these two triggers will help you stay on track. You may crave food to relax, soothe anger or relieve stress. Eating to curb feelings is never a good idea and you may end up eating a lot of high calories, sweet and fatty foods. Don’t let emotions harm your health.
So, what are cravings?
Cravings are usually for high calorie, sweet and fatty foods. You may experience this if you’re following a strict diet that doesn’t allow you to enjoy your favorite food at times or if you’ve got negative feelings about anything. This will make you feel good at first, guilty later. Cravings can occur even if you’ve eaten lately. It will pass with time. If negative feelings are causing this, practice positive self-talk, write a journal, read your favorite book, groove to your favorite music, or just exercise ( it releases happy hormones).
How hunger is different from cravings?
It usually occurs if you’ve not eaten anything for a few hours or more and your body is running out of the fuel. It can result in headaches, rumbling stomachs or weakness and it will not pass with time. Your body doesn’t crave for some specific food and a well balanced healthy meal will satisfy you. Learn to distinguish between them and don’t fall into the trap of mindless eating.
Plan your snacks and don’t just pick anything you see in the vending machine.
Link to the healthy snacking options is here:
There are so many other snacking options that are readily available and can help you improve your diet and sleep. Explore them in the next blog post.Stay tuned !
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