Is snacking better than sex?! According to a recent survey a third of adults would find it easier to give up sex than snacking! Yikes!
From nuts to chocolate to crustaceans there are no limits and the food industry are capitalising on this with ‘snackification’ being named as one of the top trends for 2016.
It is with relief I can report that the #glutenfree trend has apparently reached its peak, but hot on its heels is now the fashion for dairy avoidance. For some of course, it is so crucial to their health and well-being to steer clear but for others perhaps it is a fashionable decision to raise their likelihood of a bone fracture?
So what about this snacking business then? Apparently we’re all doing it but should we be? Often there is conflicting advice around whether we should be eating 3 large meals a day or 5 or 6 smaller ones. In reality of course one size doesn’t fit all but for most I would say it’s not a good idea to go longer than 4 hours without eating. 3 balanced meals per day plus 1 snack seems to work for many.
The UK snacking average is 2.5 snacks a day – much more than many European countries and we’re heading towards the USA average of 2.7 snacks a day which is perhaps a little worrying. The number of snacks is influenced in part by societal culture – it is not generally frowned upon if you’re seen chomping on something in the streets in this country and you could go as far as to say it is positively encouraged!
For some up and coming workplace wellness seminars I am running, I have been doing a lot of snack research – and by research I don’t necessarily mean consumption, more stalking round a food outlet or supermarket looking suspicious!
Lines between meals and snacks are very blurred and perhaps this is contributing towards our over consumption? Being sold something as a ‘snack’ when it is in fact providing us with a significant chunk of our energy requirements for the day, is a contradiction in terms as well as potential havoc for our metabolism.
How to snack right
For those looking to achieve weight loss, a snack should always have a beginning and an end. Snacks served in larger portion sizes are unhelpful – the ‘I’ll save the rest for later’ promise is often broken. Make it easy for yourself with a natural pause point after 100kcals – at least if you have to open another bag or wrapper it gives you a chance to become mindful about the decision you’re about to make. There are some excellent cereal bars or savoury popcorns around now that fulfil this criteria, as well as two 80g portions of fruit or a freddo frog of course!
For those looking to maintain weight, snacks in the region of 150 – 200kcals can provide a stop gap between meals. How you use those calories is if course up to you – but with intakes of minerals such as magnesium, zinc, calcium and selenium and most definitely fibre often coming short, those that contain wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fruit or milk may be a good shout. The trend for combining dairy with grains and seeds is supposedly on the rise.
Remember though – some of the snacks mentioned above are often packaged in larger serving sizes – an average bag of nuts at the checkout contains 260 – 420 calories! Many health benefits, but stick to a handful.
To finish I wanted to share another reported trend. Apparently our distrust at professional opinion and our preference for the views and thoughts of bloggers is on the up. I am all for being trendy, but I also think science has a lot to offer – whilst it accepts that it doesn’t know everything, (if it did, it would stop) it does provide a good basis for advice – providing you know how to interpret that is. Always ask for evidence and remember those that are to be trusted most, may not be those who know how to flaunt it!
With thanks to @NewNutritionB for an engaging and ‘trendy’ presentation at The Food and Drink Innovation Network!