What does the word "snack mean to you? A type of food, an eating event, or eating freely? Generally snacks are foods and drinks consumed in additional to or in between set meal times. The big question here is, is snacking a positive or a negative? That depends on what your snacking on, how much, and when.
When mindfully chosen to satisfy hunger, snacks can supply foods and nutrients that often come up short during the day. Snacks offer a way to eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grain foods, and low fat or fat free dairy foods. In fact, snacks can add positively to your nutrition bottom line; if you keep your calories under control and if your choices contribute toward your food group goals. Munching on a handful of baby carrots can help you meet your daily vitamin A needs, this small planned snack can also prevent overeating later on.
Snacking For Kids
Active kids and teens should snack as much as possible (on healthy foods) this will keep their metabolism strong and support healthy growth. Snacks for kids can also supplement meals. Since kids have smaller stomachs they may need to eat more to get their calories up.
Snacking For Adults
For adults snacking on the right foods can curve cravings, keep blood glucose levels stable, increase metabolism performance, and boost energy throughout the day.
Snacking For Elders
For older adults with usually smaller appetites and even limited energy, several small meals may be easier for them to handle. My grandma is a perfect example of this, she's never really hungry to a large full meal but she will snack all day.
Snacking For Athletes
For athletes of all ages, snacks help fuel the increased energy demands of their workouts or sports. It's important to always eat after a workout, or even have a shake in order to replenish & nourish your muscles. Even light snacking 1-2 hours prior to working out can increase performance. Go for low fat carbs and some protein!
Snacks are fattening: There's no actual proof this is true. However, it also depends on what you're eating as a snack, how much, and how much energy you're burning compared to calories you're taking in! If you eat 3000 calories but you do not exercise, of course you will get fat or gain weight! Eating smart, healthy snacks can really help curve your craving and regulate blood sugar. So at the end of the day it comes down to the type of snacks, how active you are, and what times your snacking.
Snacking creates cavities: Snacking constantly can promote the risk of cavity development yes, due to the increased exposure of food remaining on the teeth. This promotes bacteria build up & can create plaque. However, certain snacks increase the risks of cavities. Carb packed snacks and sugary foods greatly increase the bacteria, plaque, and in some cases produce acids that can damage your tooth enamel. In order to avoid this choose snacks that aren't sticky, eat the whole snack at once vs slow snacking over a longer period of time. If you have deep grooved teeth & cavities come to you easily, brush & floss after snacking to decrease risk.
Snack Foods Are Bad For You: Of course this is a no brainer, how healthy a food is depends on your choices. You can't choose chips ahoy cookies and then say all snacks are bad for you lol There are healthy snacks such as carrots, celery, granola bars (certain ones) fruits like oranges, pineapples, hummus and pita bread, I could go on and on. You have to take your choices into account for this one!
Snacking Spoils You Appetite: It's all about the timing baby! Big meals should be spaced out every 4 hours for proper digestion. So having a snack after 2 hours should be fine. Make sure you use good portion control and get some physical activity in there so you can burn through calories!