It wasn’t until I stopped the mid-day snacking, which sometimes looked like an all-day graze fest, that I started to manage my weight. In the past, I would find myself mindlessly snacking, just to avoid the blood sugar crashes that would leave me dizzy and hangry if I waited too long for a more substantial meal. Snacking refers to eating and/or drinking between meals. It can be a healthy, or unhealthy snack. Obviously, snacks that fall higher on the glycemic index are worse for your health, and snacks that are high in protein, fibre and healthy fat are better choices.
70% of Americans snack more than 2 times per day, according to a 2019 Consumer Goods Forum report.
What I didn’t realize by grazing all day, is that I was fooling my body into thinking I was always hungry. You see, every time you eat – even if it is a ‘smart snack’ – your body produces insulin to manage your blood sugar. This mechanism is helpful and necessary, however, if you are constantly producing insulin, you are at risk for becoming insulin-resistant, or worse.
As a Holistic Nutritionist, I am all for listening to my body and fuelling it without guilt or restrictions. Avoiding snacks does not mean you are putting yourself on a ‘diet’. It means you are going to better tune in to your body’s cues, keep metabolism fired up, and curb those sweet cravings once and for all. Some with medical conditions, or during pregnancy and breastfeeding, might still need to snack, especially if medications are involved. For the rest of those who find you are having trouble losing those last few pounds, find yourself grazing all day, crashing mid-day with no energy, and craving sugar, you might consider ditching the snacks and stick to 3 substantial meals within an 8-10 hour window.
Here are 3 reasons I decided to ditch the snacks for my own better health:
- Fat-burning and weight loss: Eating excessive calories leads to weight gain, especially if you are sedentary and not burning those calories. Every time you eat, you release insulin to control your blood sugar. And, elevated insulin inhibits fat burning. If you give your meals time to slowly digest, with at least 5 hours between meals and 10 hours throughout the night as you rest, you are allowing your body to effectively burn stored fat.
- Less inflammation: Snacking is either triggered by hunger, stress, or boredom, and the types of snacks we tend to choose when in this state are often of the sweet, processed, and convenient variety. The good news is that these turn into sugar quickly in the body, allowing for fast-burning for fuel, aka energy. The bad news is that these foods trigger inflammation in the body, affect gut health, and can cause high blood triglyceride levels, leading to cardiovascular issues, like high cholesterol, bloating, and joint pain.
- Increased satiety: Meals should be satisfying, provide energy and nutrients. As your blood sugar becomes more balanced with fewer spikes and lows throughout the day, you no longer need or crave snacks between meals. That is, of course, as long as your meals are balanced and have the required amount of protein, fibre and fat for your individual needs. A meal that is carb-heavy will definitely leave you hungry between meals, and likely lead to a blood sugar crash. Make every bite count!
The bottom line – always listen to your body and respond accordingly and responsibly. If you find you are hungry between meals, take inventory of the macros in your meals to see if something is missing. If you have a long stretch of time, perhaps more than 5 hours between your daytime meals, then you might need a smart snack to fuel you. If you are active or partake in exercise between meals, you will have to adjust your meal and snack plan accordingly, to sustain your workout and prevent muscle loss.
Discover the right balance of ingredients that work best for your body, preferably of which fall low on the glycemic index. Get in touch with a Holistic Nutritionist or Health Coach who can help construct a meal and wellness plan unique to your body and wellness goal.