Each month, Flourish Events aims to empower women by connecting them with experts and health professionals in the industry and bringing them credible advice and tips for living a healthy, happy & sustainable lifestyle. In our second guest blog, Isa Robinson, trainee nutritional therapist & ambassador for the UK’s leading Eating Disorder charity Beat, shares her expertise on how to make snacking work for you!
To snack of not to snack? People often ask me whether snacks are “good” or “bad” so with the confusion on the intermittent fasting hype and word that snacking is better for blood sugar balance, I thought I’d address the confusion.
The truth is, it probably depends on YOU and your individuals needs, not what you read in the headlines! It’s crazy to think we’ve started to trust the Daily Mail more than we trust our own bodies.
Delving into the literature, that the academic studies that have been published in scientific journals, snacking is difficult to assess due to lack of consistency in the definition of a snack. Indeed, a snack can be anything from a handful of nuts to a doughnut or even a small meal. Sometimes the literature, refers to a snack as food intake outside of meals whereas in other cases it’s based on a certain type of ‘snack food’.
One study in analysing NHANES data from 1988 to 1994 found that individuals who ate 3 meals plus snacks had the highest overall micronutrient intake except cholesterol, B6 & sodium. Other studies have linked “snacking” to certain chronic diseases. However, not all studies controlled for type of snack, overall dietary quantity, quality, activity level, social economic status & all the other variables, all of which will have an impact on the relationship between snacking and health
So what to do?
Tune into your own body! Do you find yourself thinking about food and feeling peckish mid-morning / afternoon or both? Well if so maybe try including a snack. It can be as simple as that. Ignoring our hunger signals is neglecting our bodies basic needs and a snack can be a great way to give yourself quick energy when required. It may also be important to distinguish between true hunger and other drives to eat including emotions and boredom. If it’s genuine hunger, a satisfying snack should usually make the feeling go away, providing you’ve had a proper snack to meet your needs. If it’s the latter, food will probably only provide temporary comfort for a short period and it may be worth speaking to someone if there’s underlying issues troubling you.
Opt for truly satisfying snacks. If you really want a cookie, then have the cookie. Otherwise, you’re more likely to eat a whole load of other things you don’t really want and still it the cookie anyways. Other times, you may genuinely want something more objectively nutritious. Opting for snacks with some protein or fat will make it more satiating and allow a slower release of glucose into the blood. But remember there’s no rules - trust your body to tell you what it needs.
Some people like snacks, some people don’t! We all have varying activity levels, appetites, metabolic needs and so many other variables that will impact whether or not we feel like a snack. But most importantly trust yourself or stick to the advice of your health care professional rather than following trends or what you think you “should” be doing.
Snacking is just another one of the grey areas when it comes to nutrition, no one size fits all.
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