That Snack Assumption!

As promised, we’re continuing with our goal of habit spring cleaning. We’re prompting ourselves to think and evaluate our habits for better health, and this time, let’s look at a second popular health assumption.

You’ve probably heard that eating six small meals a day helps you lose weight, energy levels, and so on. Well … let’s quickly talk through that idea.

First, before you assume that snacks are always the answer ….

When I’m working with a client, one of the first topics to cover is what type of food will fuel and sustain a person’s body. Eating processed foods, even ones labeled “healthy,” will not provide enough fiber, protein, and nutrients to sustain a person. Just like my clients, you will be hungry, too, if your diet consists of unbalanced meals.

Alas, many people assume because they are hungry that more food is the answer. Perhaps it is, especially if you’re pregnant or training for a marathon. But it might not be. Like it says in 8 Reasons You’re Always Hungry, lack of protein and fiber and too many refined carbs will leave you feeling hungry, among other reasons.

Quoting from 10 Foods That Won’t Spike Your Blood Sugar Levels, “The foods you eat directly impact blood sugar, which means that food choices play an important role in blood sugar regulation. Choosing low-glycemic foods, such as those with whole grains and fiber, helps keep blood sugar under control.”

I’d encourage you to read How to Find More Energy to help you evaluate all aspects of your health, including your food choices. You’re always welcome to give me a call or talk with your health care practitioner if you need more personalized input on what a well-balanced diet looks like for you.

Second, before you assume that snacking is healthy …

As we just quickly walked through, constant snacking could be a sign that you need to change what and how you eat (more whole foods!).

Furthermore, the act of snacking itself can present other problems. Frequent meals don’t allow your body to set a regular routine for digestion and it prevents your digestion system from completely emptying. Constant snacking can create the perfect environment for SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth) to start or take over. Snacking can also increase symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

You might think that your mind and body like the “freedom” to eat whenever, but our bodies and minds really crave and work well in routine. Snacking often disturbs a good meal routine. I kind of think of snacking as digestion jet lag, forcing your body to constantly adjust. Whereas when we have a routine, our bodies get ready for a meal because it knows that its coming and then we have better digestion.

Additionally, we’ve assumed that snacking is healthier for balancing blood sugars and fits energy needs. To prompt your thinking, look over these quotes:

From Meal frequency and timing in health and disease

“The most common eating pattern in modern societies, three meals plus snacks every day, is abnormal from an evolutionary perspective.”

“Eating three large meals plus snacks spread throughout a 16-h period of wakefulness; this is the common eating pattern of food consumption upon which the epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and associated chronic diseases has emerged.”

FromDoes Eating More Frequently Balance Blood Sugar Levels and Reduce Cravings?

“Studies show that people who eat fewer, larger meals have lower blood glucose levels, on average.”

“They may have bigger spikes in blood sugar but overall their levels are much lower. This is especially important for people with blood sugar issues since having high blood sugar can cause all sorts of problems.”

“Less frequent eating has also been shown to improve satiety and reduce hunger compared to more frequent meals.”

For most people, it’s time to dump the snacking habit and replace it with well-balanced meals that sustain the body — and give the body a break between meals to complete the digestion process.

As always, if you have questions on how to create a better meal routine, give me a call!