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Healthy Snacking, Part 1
Snacking is as American as Apple Pie – a culturally reinforced behavior that is simply hard wired into our food environment. And while traditional snack choices have largely been nutritional disasters, typically low in the good stuff, like fiber and nutrients, and high in the bad stuff, like excess calories, bad fats, salts, sugar and refined carbs, I’m pleased to report that healthy and tasty options are now widely available too. In fact, if done right, strategic snacking can provide a valuable and delicious means of maximizing nutritional wellness. Here are 7 compelling reasons to engage in healthful snacking:
- It takes less calories to prevent hunger than it does to alleviate it. Well planned between-meal-snacking helps keep hunger at bay, which diminishes the chances of binging, over-consumption at meal time, and other dietary indiscretions. Controlling hunger is one of the most powerful defenses to avoid the battle of the bulge.
- Regular intake of food (i.e.: approximately every 3 hours) maximizes metabolic rate. The higher one’s metabolic rate, the more calories one burns at rest. There is a compensatory decrease in metabolic rate when food is withheld from the body for extended periods of time.
- Snacking helps maintain steady blood sugar levels, which insure that our muscles have a constant supply of readily available fuel. The steadier our sugar levels, the more energy we have, the more we move, and the more calories we burn.
- Smaller, more frequent feedings result in lower and more stable blood insulin levels over the course of the day. This helps reduce the risk of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is currently epidemic (especially in overweight sedentary people) and turns your fat cells into fat magnets.
- Snacking provides additional opportunities to bring in valuable, essential micronutrients, like folate, vitamin C, and calcium.
- Snacking enhances the variety in one’s diet. The more dietary variety, the greater the chances of consuming the full spectrum of essential nutrients.
- Snacking provides sensory pleasure. Healthful snacking and satisfying our primordial drive to please our taste buds can go hand in hand.
For more on healthy snacking and choosing the right foods, check out my Healthy Grocery Lists.
Click here for Part 2
Related Articles: Superfoods for Health, Part 1 & 8 Steps to Lifelong Wellness & Vitality, Part 1