Can snacking promote healthy eating ?
Abhinav, a 35 years old lives with his family in Noida. During these work from home days, he picked up an old photo album containing his family pics and pictures from his childhood. He enjoyed thinking about all those moments in pics and remembering people in pictures who he has not met for last few years.
Abhinav casually made an observation to his wife while looking at pics that “percentage of overweight/obese people was much less in those times”. A casual statement but not a false statement!
What has changed then in last 20 years where people with belly fat have increased around us. There is more awareness, more gyms, yoga sessions, fitness videos, but where exactly are we failing.
There are multiple reasons to this however here we will focus on one reason out of them
Today, nearly 1/3rd of total calorie intake comes from Snacks (for most people). Snack quantity & choices are different in different states and local areas
To understand snacking, first thing is to differentiate Meals and Snacks. Snacking in a simple way is food which we eat between the regular meals. Snacking ideally should be complementing meals and help reduce overeating during meal times
However over last 15-20 years, there is a rapid increase in processed, energy dense and nutrient-poor snacks. Snacks as a product is easy to market compared to meals and hence we see a lot of marketing spend on snacks. Over-Processing also improves shelf life which means more production and better economies of scale for producers
These low dietary quality foods are terming to increase risk of cardiovascular diseases and make difficult the management of lifestyle diseases.
Knowledge about healthful snacking and self-discipline in choosing the “right” snacks are important determinants of snacking behaviour.
Snacking should be looked positively and not only an activity of indulgence. Proper choice for snacking products needs to be made. Eating snacks between meals promotes satiety and suppress overconsumption at subsequent meal. There are enough studies world over which say that whole foods high in protein, fibre and whole grains promotes appetite control when consumed as snacks
Nuts, Seeds, Pop Corn, Fruits, Yogurt, Dry plums/prunes have been shown in different studies to delay the hunger pangs and thus control overeating during meal time. When hunger pangs are controlled, people display a lot of discipline while having meals. Compare that with your situation when you came back hungry from some tasks and then eat whatever you find available.
Since unhealthy & processed snacks have developed exceptional supply chains, they are easily available on all shops & corners. Healthy snacks however need to be consciously purchased and stored.
Remember the mathematics that snacks ultimately constitute more than any single meal, hence convenience should not be the only parameter to select snacks. Consciousness towards snacking is the need of the hour. Thankfully, there are many new start-ups including 9GRAMS which are coming in this space and increasing the awareness about healthy snacking.
Snacking is not bad, its actually a good way to manage your healthy calories and complement the nutrients you get from meals