Should I snack?
Snacking has very much become part of our culture, the market for snack foods is huge, you only have to stand in the queue at a petrol station to eye up the hundreds of snacks on the market, but is snacking as beneficial as it is enjoyable? As with many topics in Nutrition the answer to this is all about context and the individual in question. What your activity levels are, age, medical conditions, nutritional goals etc. and of course the snack itself.
Snacks can be really useful for young children who need a consistent intake of nutrients and energy to support growth and development. Often the same is true for the older adult who may suffer from low appetite and conditions such as acid reflux and then small snack meals have real benefits, as well as providing the extra nutrients in manageable quantities. For athletes and anyone involved in regular sporting activity, particularly endurance sport, snacks are essential pre and post exercise for topping up glycogen levels in muscles, as well as repair and rehydration.
Snacks can also be useful if you simply haven’t had the chance to have a meal, but probably the most important thing is snack choice. Of course, the occasional bar of what you fancy is fine, enjoy it don’t infuse it with guilt but try and make it a treat and not a daily occurrence. If you are you are trying to have a healthier diet and know you are susceptible (known as more food responsive) to the eyelevel ‘snacks’ available in so many food outlets, planning is key. So, arm yourself with a piece of fruit and some nuts, or similar snack that you enjoy and will keep you satisfied and isn’t just a rather expensive bar of ‘empty calories’. Finally watch your portion control, those family size treats may seem good value but we know we eat far more than we think without realizing it!
I’ve put some tasty snack ideas on my website – enjoy!