Snacks can make or break our diet. It’s very useful to eat small meals and snacks throughout the day to curb hunger and avoid setting ourselves up for binging or overindulging when we are ravenous.
However, a Journal of Nutrition study indicates a 41 percent in the past 20 years, which is, of course, concurrent with the rise of obesity, as many statistics indicate. Overall, between the years 1977 and 2006, average number of calories coming from snacks rose from 360 to 580.
On a segment entitled “Nibble Nation” on the Today Show on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 5, 2011, Nutritionist Keri Glassman, a contributor to Women’s Health Magazine discussed snacking habits and how they can be improved. She notes that presently Americans, according to a study, are getting 25 percent of their calories from snacks. Foods high in sugar, salt and fat trigger a release of dopamine which triggers craving.
We must disperse calories not add more during the day. Snacking needs to be healthy and you must account for the calories in snacks with your overall daily caloric intake.
She also warns against the effects of what’s known as a “health halo.” That is a tendency to overconsume a food believed to be healthy. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research revealed that people ate more of a food when it was called “fruit chews” than when it was called “fruit candy.” She notes that “whole grain chips” are the kind of food that people may overindulge in.
Small packages encourage more consumption. These small 100 calorie portions of cookies and other snacks are not satisfying and they do not supply nutrients. What happens, according to a study, is that when people eat the mini-packages, they eat significantly more and people tend to keep eating more.
It’s important to plate the food — not eat out of a bag or box. Also very important is to chew the food, to slow you down and help you to eat less. Additionally, chewing reduces stress hormones.
Keri Glassman also notes that snacks are thought of as their own food group which leads to unhealthy choices. She recommends eating low calorie healthy foods for snacks such as raw vegetables like cucumbers. Another excellent choice would be a cup of berries is only 60 calories or three cups of air popped popcorn, supplying fiber and only 100 calories. She encourages people to be imaginative with food choices — Have spinach at breakfast, for instance, or oatmeal with walnuts as a snack.
While some of the higher calorie healthy foods may be more satisfying, it’s important to be careful and mindful when such foods as nuts or avocado or dried fruit. Here it’s important to be careful about portion control.
The takeaway, to eat more whole, real foods rather that what’s traditionally thought of as snack food — crunchy, and salty as this helps both for weight loss and weight management. Not to mention that eating whole, natural foods rather than foods that come out of boxes and bags are much more economical as well as more satisfying, due to higher content of fiber and water. These principles underlie many effective, popular diets such as the Volumetrics Diet and the Engine 2 Diet, just to name a couple.
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