How to Eat Healthy Snacks: Frequency vs. Quality

healthy-snacksAlmost all of us indulge in snacking. Sometimes we feel guilty that it might be unhealthy to snack and that we should have waited for the meal. However, research shows that snacking is not bad at all. What matters is that you approach it in a healthy way.

It is a fact that most of modern day snacks are not very healthy. A large portion of our snacks comes from unhealthy and processed foods like crackers, chips, sweets, desserts. Only a small percentage has fruit or vegetarian origin.

Body mass index (BMI) is an indicator of weight and obesity. Research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics showed that those who snacked on healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables had healthier BMI compared with those whose main source of snacking was sweets, desserts and processed foods. It also showed that the frequency of snacking and the calories were not related with the higher or lower BMI.[1]

Worst snacking choices are usually made when we eat snacks away from our normal eating places. For example, at cinemas, in cars or at a friend’s house, we are more likely to indulge in mindless snacking. In comparison, we are more likely to eat healthier snacks at our dining table, kitchens or restaurants.

Another common mistake we make is to treat snacks as something different from our normal eating. We are more likely to eat healthy snacks if we treat snacks as meals and not something we eat as comfort food.

Eating snacks slowly has been linked to better weight management because when we eat slowly, we improve our food satiety and we feel less hungry for longer periods of time. [2]

Snacks Quality vs. Frequency

One thing is sure that snacking itself is not unhealthy. Rather you should be choosing healthy snacks. Snacking becomes unhealthy when your main sources of snacks are desserts, chips and sugar-sweetened drinks and juices.

It does not matter what time of the day you snack and what is your frequency as long as you choose healthy snacks.

Some of the healthy snacks options are:

  • peanuts
  • nuts
  • hazelnuts
  • hummus
  • fruits
  • carrots and other vegetable
  • Fat-free greek yogurt
  • apple