Snacking -it's not a new concept, but since the pandemic, we've seen a rise in snacking...and waistlines. Global trends show more and more people preferring to snack or eat several smaller meals over eating three large meals during the day. With the rise of 'healthier' snacking options, many people feel their snacking habits are safe. Which is exactly what the food companies are hoping for!
The snack industry funnels a lot of money into market research focused on learning about consumer (your) behaviors, trends, and other insights to shape how they can market and package their products to entice you to buy them. What they spend in marketing is nothing compared to the profits they gain. In 2019, the global HEALTHY snacks market was at $71.13 billion (USD), which is just a portion of the total snack market of $210 billion (USD)! Trends suggest these numbers will continue to rise - healthy snack spending is projected to reach $108 billion (USD) by 2027 and the market for snacks, in general, is expected to reach $264.8 billion by 2023!
Their goal: their pocketbooks, not your waistline or overall health and wellbeing.
These corporations understand your psychology and how to influence eating behaviors through catchy phrases, health-promoting pictures, and modification of ingredients to training your pallet to want more...
how much time do you spend thinking about your snacking habits and
the overall impact on your health and wellbeing?
Without being conscious of why and what you are eating...
you could be doing a lot more damage than good to your body and mind. Some studies suggest that the types of food you eat play a greater role in overall health and wellbeing (or lack thereof) than the number of times you eat throughout the day. Research also indicates that those who snack more frequently throughout the day may be at risk for metabolic disease and other serious health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and heart and blood vessel conditions. In essence, if you aren't thinking about why you're snacking, the ramifications go deeper than your pocketbook.
When you feel like snacking, stop for a moment and think it through. Ask yourself these questions:
Why am I snacking vs. eating a full meal vs. not eating anything at that moment?
What type of snack am I considering?
Do I even know what is in the product I am about to consume?
Am I about to snack on something I know is healthy for me or something I think is healthy based on some claims on the package?
Is this something that will help eliminate my hunger for as long as I need it to?
Will this help me feel and be healthy?
Do I even know how to figure out if this is healthy or not?
Many of us end up snacking as a means to “get us through” to our next meal. Some people snack as an alternative to eating larger meals; they think “grazing” helps with portion control. Then there are others who snack 'just because'.
Before you reach for another snack, contemplate how you structure your day, how you eat, and the types of food you eat. This can help you create positive eating habits and reduce negative ones. Here are a few things to consider:
Make breakfast your heartier meal and dinner a lighter meal
Ensure breakfast consists of foods that provide sustained energy, healthy fats, and protein to ensure maximum benefit (see below for suggestions)
Dinner foods should be light and not leave you heavy and bloated so that you can sleep better
Incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains for variety and balance
Ensure you are getting food from each of the following macronutrient categories each time you eat:
Protein = meat, fish, nuts, lentils, chia, quinoa, and eggs
Fat = olive oil, coconut oil, butter, nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, and coconut milk
Carbohydrate = whole grains, fruits, and veggies
Allow your body rest - even from food
Intermittent fasting, where one refrains from eating anything for 12-16 hours, has recently received a lot of positive attention due to research findings showing its positive impacts on metabolism, lowering blood sugar, and lessening inflammation in the body, and giving your body a chance to digest
If you absolutely need to snack during the day, reach for whole foods or foods with a few ingredients.
Eliminate or reduce pre-packaged and processed food.
Snacks made with “healthy ingredients” are often laden with fat and sugar and they have been processed to a state where many ingredients are unhealthy and don’t provide nutrients that your body needs.
Pairing together small portions of certain foods can tide you over between meals in a way that won’t cause brain fog, make you feel sluggish, or have you regret what you just ate. Try these combinations:
Fruit + protein
Veggies + protein
Fruit + leafy greens
Nut butter or hummus + veggies
Tuna or salmon + cucumbers or apples
Veggies + whole grains
Avocado, nuts, seeds + olives
If you or the kids are hungry and it’s not meal-time, make a small portion of these high-mileage, healthy recipes to satisfy your stomach. Feel free to be creative and add your own twist, try spices or additional healthy ingredients to make it to your liking.
Chop and mix avocados, tomatoes, and basil and add to tuna fish, then wrap in a lettuce leaf. Try nut or rice flour crackers for a wheat-free crunchy option
Yogurt parfait: start with plain, natural yogurt (greek, goat, sheep, almond, coconut, or other alternative are just fine), add a few drops of honey or pure maple syrup and some fresh fruit, mix in some nuts and then add another layer
Smiling fruit or veggie plate: Cut fruits or veggies and place them on a small plate in a way that brings a smile to your face. Add a tablespoon of hummus dip, homemade salsa or guacamole for the veggies, nut butter for the fruit
Combine tuna, onion, tomato, a dash of salt and pepper, and avocado oil in a bowl. Serve in an avocado half or on sprouted grain bread or wrap in a lettuce leaf
Keep some boiled eggs in the fridge - they are a great pick-me-up mid-day and make for a quick and easy snack
Before you reach for another snack, take time to digest what I've just shared. Make a conscious choice - motivated by your actual needs as opposed to one that is driven by the world of profit - and watch how small changes make big impacts.