Snacks have been a part of our lives since we were very young. Most kids growing up live on snack food between meals due to the fact that are growing so fast. Most people carry this habit over into adulthood and often question whether this is okay to continue. Are these okay for me to be eating? Are they making me overweight?
It turns out that, yes, some of these snacks can be making you gain weight. Many snacks are very high in empty calories as well as sugars and carbohydrates that are not necessary in excess. Empty calories do absolutely nothing for the body and contain no nutrients, hence the name (empty calories). We also tend to over eat snacks as they usually are consumed out of boredom, habit, stress, or need to stay awake at work. According to experts, adults can consume as many as 600 calories more than needed per day. Considering that a pound of fat is equivalent to about 3,500 calories, you could be adding almost 0.25 of a pound a day (depending on exactly how many calories over you are) (Bad Effects of Snacking). Depending on how much you snack, that is more than 1 pound a week!
However, snacking is not entirely bad for your health and can actually help you lose weight even without exercise. There are many healthy ways to snack. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, there are ways to avoid the empty calorie snacks. They have a few rules to follow.
- Eat only when hungry. When we eat out of boredom, stress, anger, etc. we tend to overeat, even healthy foods.
- Have snacks planned and ready for when you are hungry. It is kind of like meal planning but just with snacks. For example, if you eat veggies or fruits have them cut and in separate bags or containers.
- Eat a variety of snacks. Have snacks that contain whole grain, protein, and healthy fats. This could include low-fat dairy products like yogurt or cheese, whole grain crackers, fruits, vegetables, etc. (Smart Snacking for Adults and Teens).
In the long run, gaining weight can make you age faster. Your body is only made to handle so much weight and fat. If too many calories are consumed, fat can start to build up- and fast! This can definitely expediate the aging process. When we gain weight, we tend to not get up and exercise as much as we need to be. We are okay with sitting more than being active which can then lead to more snacking, which can lead to more weight gain, which continues the vicious cycle. However, eating healthy snacks, getting exercise, and getting sleep can all keep your weight under control. Just remember to snack wisely and be mindful of what is being put into your body; you only get one.