Lots of information can be discovered from talking with people about their snacking habits.
Snacks mean different things to different people. Some think about snacks based on the time of day the food is eaten, while others base their snack definition on the amount of food eaten (i.e. meal versus snack), where the food was eaten (i.e. munching while watching a movie or program/“snacking” versus eating at the table), the type of food eaten (a healthful snack versus processed “snack foods”), or a combination of these. Depending on how we think about and incorporate snacks, snacking can be a food behaviour that helps move us closer to or further away from our health goals.
Snacks: An important and healthful part of your day or something to be avoided all together?
The desire to snack can be motivated by our environment – our social environment (i.e. snacks at the office, making snacks for our kids), location (i.e. eating while watching TV), or by the simple pleasure of food (thank you co-worker for bringing in homemade brownies!). Snacking can also be motivated by hunger, both physical and emotional.
Perhaps we like to munch on food while watching TV, highlighting a habit or learned behaviour. Or it could also be because we haven’t eaten enough earlier in the day…or because we have been overly restrictive with the amount and kinds of foods we have eaten and now our body is speaking up for what it needs.
Late night snacking can be a signal that we need to expand how we un-wind and relax, or how we reconnect with our partners. It may be a signal we need to add in more self-care in our day. Or we may just need to go to bed earlier. Our snacking habits can also tell us information about our unmet needs.
I definitely snack – and focus on mostly planned snacks that are a source of protein and some vegetable or fruit. And sometimes I enjoy a piece of chocolate or a chewy cookie with a cup of tea. I mostly eat my snacks in the kitchen or in my office. And sometimes I munch on popcorn while watching a movie.
As a dietitian, I believe that snacks and snacking is an important part of our day. Adding in planned, (mostly) healthful snacks can help manage our appetite, prevent over-eating later in the day, fuel our active lifestyle, contribute important vitamins and minerals and overall healthfulness to our diets.
Snack foods do not need to come from a package!
Whole & minimally processed-food snack ideas include:
- Apple + almond butter
- Pumpkin banana mini muffin and a glass of milk
- Cottage cheese with pears and cinnamon
- Vegetable rice wraps with a Green Goddess dipping sauce
- Edamame beans with a squirt of lemon juice
More portable snack ideas can be found here.
Sweet and Savoury Veggie Chip Dip
Need a fresh yet simple idea for a better snack to have on-hand? I created this Sweet and Savoury Veggie Chip Dip recipe after seeing an article in a Cooking Light magazine while getting my hair cut. This dip is:
- simple (3 ingredients),
- healthy (calcium and protein-rich yogurt, also a source of healthy bacteria),
- versatile! Enjoy with a veggie platter, as a sauce with salmon or chicken tenders, as a dressing over a Mediterranean Salad, a Buddha Bowl or as a dipper for chips or these DIY Sweet Potato Chips.
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Written by a Registered Dietitian.