Snacking- it’s something we all do but it’s not always what we need to be doing. Snacking can contribute to weight gain, especially if you aren’t snacking on the right types of food. For many overweight individuals snacking is a coping mechanism, which in turn causes them to eat more due to added weight gain. The problem with snacking isn’t the actual snacking itself. The problem is what you are snacking on. Traditional snack foods, such as potato chips, soda, candy, cookies, and crackers are loaded with fat, sugar and preservatives. These types of foods are filled with empty calories, which turn into excess fat in the body. Unfortunately we all crave specific fattening or sugary foods at some point in our lives and eating these types of foods sparingly won’t kill us, however when you continually eat them on a daily basis they can do damage to the body. Changing what you snack on cannot only stop added weight gain; it can help you lose weight. Eating healthy food can be tasty and satisfying which will fill up your stomach faster, making you feel fuller for longer.

Snacking is essential for proper growth, nutrition and calorie intake. However, unhealthy snacking can be a problem. When you go for a snack do you stop and ask yourself if you are hungry? Do you take a look at the options you have to snack on? Do you measure out your snack before starting to eat? Or do you just decide on having a snack, choosing what looks good or whatever your craving or what’s available and start eating it until your full or there’s nothing left. These types of actions can lead to malnutrition and obesity.

While some people snack because its convenient or available other people snack for emotional reasons. Emotional eating is a major factor in the causes of obesity. Emotional triggers for eating include boredom, depression, stress, love, frustration, excitement, and procrastination. People snack because their happy or sad, lonely, self-conscious, overweight or they want to hide their feelings.

Unhealthy snacking is also caused by not eating. Although it’s proven that not eating decreases metabolism and increases food cravings, some people still intentionally starve themselves. Whether its to try to lose weight, for religious or moral purposes, or just because your schedule is too busy to stop for food, not eating for more than 3-6 hours leads to symptoms of starvation. Food cravings normally consist of high carbohydrate foods. Intense food cravings make it difficult to make healthy food choices and determine appropriate serving sizes.

Unhealthy snacking can lead to obesity, malnutrition and the risk of disease. Eating large Snacks that are high in calories, fat, sugar and salt lead to weight gain. Without portion control, you tend to continue to eat, making a small snack into a very large snack that can ruin your appetite. When binge eating you eat past the point of satiation. Plus if you are eating unhealthy food you aren’t supplying your body with energy and essential nutrients that it needs to properly function.

Healthy snacking is important in moderation and balance. It is a vital tool in maintaining and losing weight. Healthy snacks in appropriate serving sizes can satisfy hunger, and provide the body with energy, vitamins, minerals and nutrients. To be considered a healthy snack the food must maintain five key characteristics: adequacy, balance, calorie control, moderation and variety. If the snack meets all of these requirements then it will fill you up faster, tame your hunger and make you less likely to binge eat. All the key characteristics depict a healthy snack as having the appropriate nutrients, while limiting fat, sugar and salt in the proper portion size. Once you find healthy snacks that give you the energy and nutrients you need, you won’t need to eat as often which decreases your calorie intake helping you to successfully lose weight.

Finding healthy snacks shouldn’t be hard. Consult the food groups fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and low fat dairy. Snacks from these food groups are higher in water content, fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals and are airy. These qualities provide you with a feeling of fullness but without the high number of calories. Remember that snacks should only be an average of 100 calories. By health snacking every couple of hours you will eat less at your normal “big meal” times and you will keep your metabolism revved up to burn more calories and help lose weight.



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