Snackification: The Pros and Cons

Snackification is another food trend on the rise as a consequence of a busy schedule. People tend to eat snacks in place of proper meals, shaping new eating habits. Do you think snacks can replace meals? In this article, we'll look into the pros and cons of snackification.

Key takeaways:

What makes a snack a snack?

According to the American Heart Association, three things differentiate snacks from meals:

  • The timing of food consumption. Breakfast (6-10 am), lunch (12-3 pm), and dinner (7-9 pm) are considered main meals, and foods eaten between them are considered snacks.
  • The energy that food provides. If the food's energy intake is over 15% of the daily recommended energy intake, it is considered a meal. If the food's energy intake is less than 15% of the daily recommended energy intake, it is considered a snack.
  • Perception. Most people consider breakfast, lunch, and dinner as main meals and other food and drink consumption as snacks.

Is snacking healthy?

Snacking has the potential to be both healthy and unhealthy. Studies show two sides of the same coin. Nutritionally and calorically balanced snacks eaten when hungry may help with satiety, and meeting nutrient requirements. Satiety control may also help with weight management.

Snacking can be unhealthy as well. Frequently eating excessive amounts of snack foods can increase daily calorie intake resulting in weight gain.

If you'd like to incorporate healthy snacking to your daily nutrition, there are a number of things to consider.

Types of food

Snacks can add value to your nutrition if they contain unprocessed and nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and dairy.

Nutritional value

If you eat packaged snacks, always read the label first. According to the British Dietetic Association, the best daily snack choices are the ones low in fat, sugar, and salt—which can be eaten as everyday snacks. Those snacks with higher values of fat, sugar, and salt should be consumed on rare occasions, if at all.

Nutritional valueEveryday snacks Occasional snacks
Fat3 g≥ 17.5 g
Sugar≤ 5 g
≥ 22.5 g
Salt≤ 0.3 g≥ 1.5 g

Caloric distribution

Harvard School of Public Health recommends aiming for 150-250 calories per snack. Eating high-calorie snacks multiple times a day may cause weight gain and disrupt your routine eating schedule.

The reason behind snacking

We all love occasional treats, but when it comes to snacks you eat every day, the reason behind the consumption of snacks matters. Be sure you eat snacks because you feel hungry, and there is still a long time until the next meal.

It is not recommended to eat snacks to ease emotional stress. Drinking water first is also a good idea because thirst can be mistaken for hunger.

Snack prep

You probably do meal prep now and then. How about prepping snacks to eat on the go, at work, or at school in case you need snacks until mealtime?

Preparing or buying healthy snacks beforehand can make it easy to have healthier choices when you're hungry. Carrying a bag of fresh fruits, vegetables or nuts is a great choice.

Pros and cons of snacking

Snacking can be beneficial if the right nutritional choices are made. Constant snacking and wrong snack choices can make it unhealthy. Here is the list of pros and cons of snacking:

Pros of snacking

  • Healthy snacks can help reach nutrient goals. If you're not eating your 5 portions a day of fruits and vegetables within meal times, snacking can be an excellent option to get those much-needed vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Healthy snacks give energy throughout the day. When you experience an energy drop between meals, healthy snacks can increase your blood sugar so you can focus and perform better.

Cons of snacking

  • Having excess calories due to low-nutrient and high-calorie snack choices. Snacks can be high in fat, sugar, and salt. These snacks can be highly palatable and tempting. If you get into the habit of frequently consuming high-calorie, sugar, fat, or salty snacks, snacking may do more harm than good.
  • Frequent snacking can result in meal skipping. Snacking too often can result in skipping meals. Healthy and balanced meals are where we get most of the nutrients required for a healthy body. Skipping meals may result in decreased intake of essential nutrients.

Nutrient composition, frequency, and size of your meals are a few factors determining whether you have healthy and balanced nutrition or not. Snacking is no different. The frequency, nutrient composition, and calories of snacks determine their role in your nutrition. Therefore, you can enjoy calorically and nutritionally balanced snacks between meal times.

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