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The Great Snack Debate

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To snack or not to snack? Here’s how to decide.

Snacks have a bad reputation as sources of excess calories, but that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, regular snacks may be a key way for you to manage hunger and get extra nutrition. Research shows that people who snack on fruit and nuts tend to have a higher-quality diet, and that snacking on veggies is associated with a lower body mass index (BMI).
Figuring out if your current snacking habits are working for you depends on when you’re snacking, which snack foods you’re choosing, and how your snacks impact your appetite at mealtimes.

You may want to add a snack if…
You’re overly hungry at mealtimes
You could benefit from added nutrition (e.g. more fiber from veggies and fruit or more calcium from dairy) but it’s challenging to fit it into your meals

You may want to eliminate a snack if…

You’re not hungry at mealtimes
You eat to distract yourself (from stress, boredom, or other uncomfortable emotions)
You eat because you’re tired or low on energy

You may want to change up your snack choices if…

You still feel hungry after snacking
You snack on “trouble foods” that are easy to overeat
You snack on high-sodium foods

This week, we’ll help you evaluate your snacking habits so you can decide what, if anything, you want to change. Plus, we’ll serve up some fresh snack options in case your current standbys are getting stale.

 

 

 

Track Your Snacks

Shed some light on between-meal munching.

Snacks can be challenging to track, especially if you’re quickly eating whatever’s available when hunger or a craving strikes. To gain insight into your habits, consider tracking all your snacks for a week, or at least a few days. As you enter snacks into your Omada Food Tracker, add details that help you identify patterns.

Details to include in your tracker:

Approx. serving size(s) of your snack
Time and place you ate it
How hungry you were
What you were doing and/or how you were feeling

The more information you add, the more useful tracking will be. Your entries might read something like “Handful of grapes, 1 cheese stick (11am, at work, mildly hungry, stressed)” or “2 cookies, medium black iced coffee (3pm, coffee shop, not hungry, low energy).”

As you track, keep an eye out for these and other patterns:

Snacking on high-sodium foods. Store-bought snacks tend to be sky-high in sodium. Switching to homemade and whole-food snacks (see the next page for ideas) may be a great way for you to reduce your sodium intake.

Portion-free snacking. Not sure how much you ate because you were snacking straight out of a box or bag? Make it a goal to roughly measure out a single portion (and put the rest away) before you start snacking.

Snacking at certain times/places. Knowing when you typically snack empowers you to plan ahead and ensure you have nutritious options available.

Snacking before physical activity. It’s common to think you need extra snacks when you exercise, but unless you’re exercising at moderate or high-intensity for 30 minutes or more, that may not be true. Tune into your hunger level — your body will let you know if you need a snack.

Snacking late at night. If you have a balanced dinner within 3-4 hours of bedtime, night snacking is probably more a matter of habit (or an attempt to satisfy a craving) than a response to hunger. Choose low-calorie snacks — air-popped popcorn, cut veggies with dip, roasted chickpeas, or veggie chips (see recipes on the next page).

Snacking instead of eating meals. If you’re snacking through meal times, that’s a habit worth changing. Snacks aren’t likely to provide balanced nutrition that keeps you at your best. It may also be a sign that self-care — which includes eating well — is too low on your list of priorities.

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