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Snack our Way to Weight Loss and Health!
When I ask most people to name a few of their favorite snack foods, they usually smile and mention chips, pretzels, cookies, and similar sweet foods. Some people will add " fruits" to the list. Humans are in fact, born with a sweet tooth because it is a survival mechanism based upon our evolutionary biology. Our bodies need sugar to supply energy and our brain requires and uses only sugar (remember our sugar tip?) as its source of fuel. In fact, ask most people to trace their sugar cravings and you will probably find that they haven't eaten for hours. Why? Our brain sends a signal that we need sugar when our blood sugar levels fall low. Newborn infants exhibit this survival mechanism too, since studies show that the preference for sweets is innate versus learned.
So, this brings us back to our topic for today: snacking, weight loss and health! When we eat often, we are more likely to maintain adequate blood sugar levels necessary for our energy requirements and for our cognitive functioning. This in turn helps us to maintain our mood levels in a positive way. Ever experience hunger, fatigue and moodiness together? Or ever go too many hours without eating and then feel like eating the entire refrigerator? Snacking often can help our mood, energy and cravings. Aside from these "snack often" benefits, our body acts as a furnace every time we eat, raising our metabolism. So, we will actually burn more calories when we eat more often, even if we take in the same number of calories in total. Lastly, because we are eating more often maintaining higher energy and mood, we are less likely to be stressed!
I have seen over and over again with clients, the positive results snacking has on their physical and mental health and weight. When we start snacking more often, we usually eat less at each meal, and we lose some of the cravings for all those goodies (I didn't say we need to give it all up!). Of course it also helps to add a small food high in protein to each carbohydrate snack and meal as we discussed last week.
Now, the question remains, what do we snack on? 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 have at meals. Let's just choose healthy food combinations and always eat a "real food" before we reach for that cookie. So, if we like oatmeal (just an example), we can have a 1/2 cup at our 3 P.M. snack time even though we usually think of oatmeal as a breakfast food! Want a few more examples? How about yogurt, fruit and cheese, healthy bean soups, junefit's trailmix, 1/2 turkey sandwich.......to name a few.
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