People sometimes talk about snacking as if it is some sort of shady, undesirable pass time carried out only by weak minded people who lack self-control and self-respect.
“It’s all that snacking that makes her fat. What she needs is three square meals a day!”
I think snacking has got a bad reputation that it doesn’t deserve. It isn’t snacking that makes people overweight and unhealthy. It is the type of foods that some people snack on that makes them overweight and unhealthy. Crisps, chocolates, biscuits, sugary drinks etc. If people snacked on nutritious whole foods such as fruits, veg, nuts and seeds then snacking would actually be good for them.
The reality is that it is very difficult to gain excess weight eating whole plant foods, and satisfying the bodies cravings for nutrients and energy with healthy foods will help to reduce the risks of binging on unhealthy processed foods and over eating at meal times.
In fact, it raises the question of whether we should even have defined meal times. Perhaps it is not snacking that is wrong, but the concept of 3 square meals that is wrong.
Look at most animals and you’ll notice that they graze throughout the day. Finding food and eating it fills the vast majority of their time. This would also have been true for humans when we had to forage and hunt for food. I suspect that the idea of fixed meal times is a relatively modern invention dictated by our very unnatural industrial working culture, where we have fixed working times and have to fit our consumption of food into the slots allocated by our employers.
Interestingly, some professional athletes take a more natural approach to feeding and graze throughout the day, or have a series of many small meals throughout the day instead of three big ones. This supplies them with a steady supply of energy and avoids the big energy dips that we experience immediately after eating a heavy meal and in the period running up to the next meal when the previous meal has been burned off. With a constant drip feeding of energy and nutrients, the digestive system is never overloaded and you don’t have the constant pattern of peaks and troughs in energy levels.
It strikes me that rather than avoiding snacking, we should be snacking more on healthy whole foods. By doing so we’ll be more energetic, healthier and will naturally come to eat smaller meals.
Speaking of which, I feel like a snack.