Snacking doesn’t have the best reputation. Opinions vary on whether it's a healthy habit to get into – some think it's harmless, but others feel that it makes you gain weight and that it's better to stick to structured meals. Any eating or drinking between meals is considered snacking. Whether you do it out of hunger, time of day, or ready access to food, certain factors can answer whether snacking is healthy.
How Does Snacking Affect Weight?
The argument about the positives or negatives of snacking tends to boil down to whether it makes you gain unwanted weight or not. Snacking itself is not inherently wrong – it's about the type of food you're eating.
We think of snack foods as processed, high-sugar and salt, convenience foods. But there are healthy foods to snack on that can prevent feelings of hunger. High protein options will help you curb cravings and can help you feel satisfied enough until your meal.
If you're having a snack because your appetite demands it, you won't have to worry about your weight. However, if you're snacking out of boredom or mindlessly eating just to have something to do, your snacking habit can cause issues.
What Makes a Healthy Snack?
Controlling your snacking is easy if you keep a few factors in mind.
- Serving size. Take a look at the nutritional label and portion out your intended snack rather than eat out of the bag. Sticking to high-protein snacks will help you feel full, but if you track calories, be careful that your snack doesn't turn into a meal.
- There is no right or wrong snacking frequency – it can easily depend on your activity and meal schedule. Whether you have multiple snacks a day or just one, be sure to go for foods that will boost your energy instead of draining it.
- Don't give in to cravings. You don't necessarily have to give in if you're craving a particular food. If you're truly hungry, any satisfying snack will make the craving go away without the chocolate or French fries.
Snacking is not good or bad, but the foods that you eat for a snack will affect your weight, energy levels, and appetite. If you snack throughout the day, go for snacks that will make you feel more energized for the long term to help carry you to your next meal.