Sunday, July 03, 2011

Declare your Independence from Snack Food

I love snacks... love love love snacks.  Candy, cookies, chips, popcorn, ice cream... all of it.  I've been struggling to keep my snacking on the healthy side and I came across a great article this week from Lisa Cain, PhD aka Snack Girl.  Her article, titled: Evidence That Junk Food Snacking Will Shorten Your Life, covered a study done by the University of North Carolina on various rats and the effects of snacking.  (Let me say that I am not a fan of animal testing, but when they just get to each junk food all day, that sounds like animal heaven.  But seriously, please don't holler at me for the rats.. not my study.. just sharing the now that that is over, lets move on.)  The study showed that when allowed, the rats would overeat not only their snack food but their regular meals as well.  Additionally, it appears that when they started snacking, they couldn't stop.  I'll leave you to review the post yourself but will highlight the following:
"Snacks are not the enemy. They are very convenient and portable- the danger is consuming too many of the bad ones. Many packaged snacks are high in salt, fat and trans-fat, and low in fiber."
In a similar article (Kids Snacking Too Much), also regarding a study done at the University of North Carolina, we learn that over a 30 year period, children are more and more likely to be snack addicts.  The caloric intake of snacks in children's diets increased by 168 calories from 1977 to 2006 and that now 27% of children's calories come from snacks.  Barry M. Popkin, PhD said the following:
"Such findings raise concerns that more children in the United States are moving toward a dysfunctional eating pattern, one that can lead to unhealthy weight gain and obesity."
Then I come across an article, in an actual print version of Men's Health that we have at our home, that talks about "6 formerly forbidden snacks that are actually good for you".  Jackpot, right?  Wrong.  This article proceeds to tell you that beef jerky and sour cream are good for you.  WHAT?!?!?!  I understand you can argue why these items might be better than others, which Men's Health does, but the claim that these are good for you I think is a little far fetched.  They also seem to be exploiting the smallest of good from things like chocolate and wine, and not balancing out the information with that downfalls of overindulgence in these items.  I've also been enlightened recently by Andy Bellatti (whose blog is amazing!) on some of the other falsehoods that Men's Health preaches about food and I'm happy to say that that magazine will no longer be coming into our house.

So what do I snack on now, you ask?  Carrots, cucumbers, hummus, string cheese, yogurt, berries, Buddy Fruit, individual serving bags of popcorn, and a whole bunch of other goods stuff.  I try to keep  my snacks to two a day, and aim to keep them at about 50 calories each, but they vary and usually never more than 100.  And no, that doesn't mean those 100 calorie snack packs of cookies and junk.  If you need snack packs, try to make your own. 

I've also recently found an app for that.. Crazy, huh? Everyday Health's Snack App gives you several categories of snacks to chose from and lists the calorie counts for each.  It also includes suggested exercises to help you burn off your snacks too!


Anonymous said...

So what about the theory that we should eat 5-6 small meals during the day instead of just 3? I am curious how that impacts snacking. It seems like it would help to cut down on snacking since most people use snacks as a way to hold over between meals.

Jesi said...

Excellent point. I actually use this theory in my daily food intake and use one or two snacks sort of as my 4th and 5th meals. For me, and this is my opinion only as I am no way certified professionally to state otherwise, the important part is to have good, healthy fulfilling snacks that are low in calories and sugar and high in protein and/or fiber. Additionally, I think its imperative that people understand that just because you have a snack and not a meal, doesn't mean that those calories don't count for whats going into your body each day.

For example, I used to have one of those 80 calorie, low-sugar granola bars for a morning snack at about 10 am. I found that I was starving again by 11 am but not yet ready for lunch. I switched to having edamame for a snack (same amount of calories) and now I'm satisfied for at least 3 more hours.

So I guess my point, which I may not have made clear (still working on my blogging skills:) is that snacks are OK, snacks are even good, but you must be mindful of the volume and type of snacks in order to continue to maintain a healthy diet all around.

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