For some, snacking is a way of sailing through the day without getting overly hungry in between meals. It’s not something that requires much thought and can be as simple as recognising feelings of hunger and choosing to satisfy them. However for others its not always that straightforward.
Grazing regularly throughout the day by having snacks here and there might be more suited to some people because it fits in better with their lifestyle. Having a busy job or taking care of children doesn’t always leave enough time to sit down and have a substantial meal, so grabbing food little and often can be much easier and more manageable.
Equally, having 3 square meals a day may suit those who need to prepare their food in advance, who don’t particularly get hungry in between meals or for people working shifts and have set breaks.
However the reality is that some people really struggle with knowing what to snack on if they haven’t prepared something in advance, especially if there are limited “healthy” foods or many options for under 100 calories – which seems to be the golden rule for snacking. So avoiding food between meals may seem like the best thing to do in order to prevent those feelings of guilt for eating something simply because you couldn’t wait until your next meal.
I’m telling you this is not something you should ever feel guilty about and its why “honoring your hunger” is one of the key principles of intuitive eating.
Since starting the IE process, I realised that for a long time I avoided snacking for the purpose of being “good“. I would put off eating my lunch for as long as possible until I was absolutely starving in a bid to stop me from being hungry in the afternoon and looking for “unhealthy” snacks… but the only “unhealthy” thing about that scenario is the repetitive behaviour of ignoring my hunger.
There is no right and wrong when it comes to eating as you know your body better than anyone. Only you know what satisfies you, keeps you going and what works best for you as an individual.
As we all know, life changes constantly and even the most organised people have days where everything goes wrong, you leave your lunch at home or meetings run over so you don’t get to eat what you want, when you wanted. So having a couple of biscuits mid afternoon might be the difference between becoming so ravenous that you feel hangry and consequently over eat when you get the opportunity or feeling satisfied enough until your next meal so that you can get on with more important things in the day than worrying about food.
Ignoring or wanting to suppress hunger will often lead to overeating and this may by why snacking gets a bad rep. Overeating is a completely normal thing to do if you are starving! So to avoid this, try and really listen to your body. When you start to feel a little hungry and you feel like a snack would help relieve this, then allow yourself to have one!
Diet culture and the media are to blame for why we feel so crazy about food and with appetite suppressants being promoted on the daily its no wonder why we want to avoid snacking – particularly when all the snacks targeted at women are low calorie, low fat, low sugar and taste like air.
I think when it comes to eating there is a lot more to the behaviour than the food itself, therefore the the way you eat snacks is just as important. So eating more mindfully, slowly and without distraction where possible will help you to register your fullness cues so that you are comfortably full, rather than stuffed. However if this isn’t realistic for you, just stopping midway through whatever you are eating for a few minutes can help you to tune in with how you are feeling.
If you are after a little inspiration for snack ideas, check out some of my recipes…
- Crispy Cajun Chickpeas
- Hazelnut Truffles
- Smokey Hummus
- Healthy Beetroot dip – two ways!
- Cookie Dough Energy Bites