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Snack vs. Treat: What's the Difference?

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Snack vs. Treat: What's the Difference?

( of us love snacks, and if you've been reading my tips you know I do too. Many of us may be snacking away while watching TV, or in-between our meals, or when the 3 PM slump at work hits. While I believe any food can be a snack, let's talk today about the type of foods we might want to consider as snacks and the type of foods we might want to consider as treats. Is there really a difference? I think so. What's the difference?

Let's go back to our last tip about snacking. My philosophy is that any food can be a snack, and any snack can be a mini -meal. It's just that snacks are small portions of foods we usually eat as meals. When we snack as a tool to eat often, we maintain our blood sugar levels which is necessary for our energy requirements. This in turn helps us to maintain a positive mood. After all, how many of us have experienced hunger, and fatigue resulting in a negative mood? Or how many of us go too many hours without eating and then feel like eating the entire refrigerator? Snacking often can improve our mood, energy, cravings, and help us to reduce our food portions at meal times too, since we're not as hungry (good for natural stomach shrinking!)!

Now since the purpose of a snack is to contribute to our health, help us lose weight, and maintain our physical and mental energy, I suggest we consider choosing a snack that is a healthy nutrient dense food! So, if we like Cheerios (just an example), we can have 1/2 cup at our 3 P.M. snack time even though we usually think of all cereals as breakfast foods! We can eat a yogurt with a piece of fruit or choose a fruit and a piece of cheese. There are plenty of healthy low fat soups to choose from, or we can eat that 1/2 turkey breast sandwich we saved from lunch with 1/2 banana.

A treat brings to mind the concept "indulgence". A treat can be a sweet, crunchy, creamy or a salty snack food item (I'm sure we all have some favorites of these in mind). Most treats contain sugar of some kind, along with some fat, so I suggest we also make it something worth eating which means, "will we really enjoy it because it's a food we love, and does it feel like a treat"? Treats can offer us some nutrients too, but they can also serve as the indulgence we seem to feel so guilty over because even when we're not on a diet, we feel guilty eating unhealthy foods (such as a slice of chocolate mud cake). How can we not feel so guilty? Let's apply the 10% rule. This represents 10% of our daily caloric need. For example, if we need 2,000 calories per day, a 200 calorie non nutrient dense treat will not negatively affect our health. We will still be able to give our bodies all the nutrients we need if we choose a sound eating plan (I'm not referring to a gimmicky diet here) using up our remaining 1800 calories.

So, the next time we reach for a snack to keep us going, let's stop and ask ourselves "what is our purpose", and "is this a snack or a treat" because there is a difference!

Here's to our enjoying both worthy snacks and treats, each for their own purpose! June

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