Very few people eat three square meals anymore. Most of us eat a lot more frequently than that, and in all sorts of places — in the car, at our desks, as we’re cooking, and on the couch while we watch TV.
Is this bad? Yes and no. It’s definitely not good to eat so frequently that you don’t experience hunger, but it can be just as unhealthy to wait long periods of time between meals so that you’re ravenous every time you eat. Below are the pros and cons of snacking, as well as some snacking tips to help you make the most of your between-meal nibbles.
Benefits of Snacking
- Prevents you from getting too hungry so that you overeat at meals
- Provides a time to get some extra nutrients, especially from fruits and vegetables
- Helps keep your energy even throughout the day
- Important for babies, toddlers, and young children who don’t eat much in a sitting
Cons of Snacking
- Can be an excuse to eat junk food or food you wouldn’t normally eat at a meal
- Amount eaten at a snack can easily add up to more calories
- Traditional snack food is often void of nutritional value (crackers, cookies, chips, and other vending machine-type foods)
Healthy Snacking Tips
- Snack on vegetables and fruits whenever possible.
- Make snacks a combination of carbs (fruits and veggies), protein (egg, cheese, yogurt, nuts or nut butter, lean meat), and fat (included in the protein foods mentioned). This combination keeps you satisfied and maintains energy levels.
- Keep snacks to about 200 calories. Much more than that and the snack becomes like a meal.
- Avoid buying “snack food.” Instead, create snacks out of the ingredients you’d normally use to make a meal.
- Snack when you’re not distracted, so you can pay attention to your portion size.