Biscuits at a meeting: a smoothie at 2 pm, a muesli bar on the way to sports: Do you often not even notice how many snacks you eat each day? This is by no means unusual. A Study on cell metabolism showed that an average of 15 meals per day are eaten. This is not a direct reaction to actual hunger or a lack of energy, but pure habituation. No wonder that you take in more energy than you actually need.
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You should also not ignore the possible consequences of constant snacking. Not only do you gain weight faster, but the constant oversupply has serious health consequences.
Why is constant eating unhealthy?
There used to be three meals a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, since large meals lead to a strong insulin release, nutritionists recommended eating small snacks in between. The trend of several small meals was born. However, it did not stop there – the portions of the original small meal became larger and larger and snacks more and more frequent. They are also often packed full of sugar and unhealthy fats.
Small and healthy snacks in between are still allowed. © Goodmoments / Shutterstock.com
Why do you take in too many calories by snacking?
The problem: You eat too much and too often. Because of all the food you eat, you no longer realize how much you actually eat. Even if you eat healthy food, eating frequently makes it difficult to keep track of your calories.
In fact, the amount that people regularly consume from snacks has skyrocketed from less than 300 calories per day in the 1970s to over 500 calories today. That’s a difference that can add nearly 7 kilos to your body weight each year.
These snacks have a maximum of 100 calories
You also learn to recognize when you are really hungry and when you simply have an appetite or eat out of boredom or stress. A study published in the Australian journal Lipids in Health and Disease also discovered that flooding your body with meals can cause your liver to store more fat. This can then lead to insulin resistance and increase your risk of diabetes.
How do you snack properly?
Don’t worry, if you follow a few rules, the occasional snack is not a bad thing. On the contrary, it can boost your energy and keep hunger at bay. But pay attention to the following tips:
1. Only eat when you’re really hungry!
If your stomach doesn’t rumble and you don’t feel hungry, you shouldn’t eat either. Most people actually don’t eat because they feel hungry, but out of boredom, frustration or stress. Stop it!
From now on you will learn to feel again when your body really needs energy – and only then can you snack.
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2. do not use small breaks only for eating!
Also use breaks to switch off – not only to eat. © Jovica Varga / Shutterstock.com
For many people, a break in their daily lives is just another excuse to eat. From now on you can use breaks at work or at home for other things: listen to a podcast, go for a walk and/or turn on your favourite music. This way you learn new behaviors and break the connection between breaks and snacks.
3. Leave your snacks at home!
We are biologically attuned to eat food as soon as we see it. So better leave your snacks at home and don’t drag them everywhere. If nothing’s there, you won’t be tempted. However, if you have a long car journey or a long day at work ahead of you, you can and should of course take some food with you. But only what you really need – no more!
4. plan your meals in advance!
Calculate how many calories you should consume per day and divide this by the number of meals you eat. © Lizardfilms / Shutterstock.com
If you want to maintain your weight and neither gain nor lose weight, you should consume as many calories as you consume. You can quickly calculate your individual calorie requirement on the Internet. Before you go crazy, you should spread the calories you can consume per serving over the day. This way you make sure that you don’t snack too much and that your favourite jeans don’t fit anymore.
5. choose healthy snacks with good nutrients!
The aim of a snack is to provide you with food until the next meal. For this you do not need bad fat or sugar. And: The less the food is processed, the better. Rely on natural foods like eggs, or an apple with some nutmeg.
In addition, the small meals should provide you with good protein, fibre and healthy fat. Also pay attention to the portion size. Even small portions can blow up your calorie account, for example nuts, which are very calorie dense and contain a lot of fat.
Careless snacking can damage your health and destroy your calorie balance. However, if you plan snacks consciously, the small snacks will provide you with good energy throughout the day.