Thursday, 27 July 2017

Snack attack

eating, snacking, ethical
Snacking looks set to stay
I was recently sent some rather tasty nibbles courtesy of Chika's. As I tucked in and, as is my habit, read all the nutritional info on the packet, I got to wondering about the concept of snacking. It's the norm now - for both adults and kids. For starters, my Insta feed is full of fitness fans logging demanding workouts and the 'fuel' that gets them there, and my children have a designated 'fruit snack' time at school. Is that a bad thing, or just the way we roll in 2017?

It's certainly fair to say, the idea of three meals a day sat around the family table together has had it's time. Juggling work with school commitments and extra-curricular activities plus making meetings and meeting deadlines has shortened the time we get to enjoy gathering en mass to - literally - break bread. Instead we're grabbing food on the go - and the habit of snacking looks like something we're not going to give up anytime soon. But do we need snacks - and are all snacks the same?

Do kids needs snacks?

nuts, nutrition, snacking, healthy
Almonds are good to go
Snacking is simply eating between meals. But there's lots of conflicting opinions about whether food spread across the day - rather than eaten in more regimented time slots - makes any difference to your health and weight. The debate also gets quite controversial - with some research even suggesting cultural differences between America and France accounts for why children in the US snack more and why French kids 'Eat Everything' (it's a book, look it up!). Without doubt though, children have smaller tummies - and hungry children can be ratty children. And nobody wants that (whatever language they are screaming in).

One thing is certain though, snacking can be used to fill in nutritional gaps with kids. If a child cannot manage to eat the food that meets their dietary recommendations through eating breakfast, lunch and dinner - snacks such as fruits, veg, whole grains and lower-fat dairy products or diary alternatives can help.

Do adults need snacks?

Fill up on protein
And once again, we're in the land of conflicting research. Some people argue it’s necessary to eat frequently to maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day - and to avoid that nosedive into a passing donut - yet some studies suggest there's no change in blood sugar levels when the same amount of food is consumed as meals or meals plus snacks. Clearly, the jury's out - although it seems logical that the type of snack and amount consumed will affect blood sugar levels - and in turn control (or not!) poor food choices later in the day.

But snacking and weight gain, and the following health-related problems, don't have to go hand-in-hand. What you snack on - and how that combines with your general lifestyle is likely to shape, well your shape. If you're eating extra calories but no nutrition through snacking, then you're doing it wrong! Think about what you are eating - and how much you are eating, aim to choose a snack that will stop you feeling hungry and overeating later on.

What exactly does that mean? Ideally food that is high in protein and fibre - as this will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Which brings me nicely back to the Chika's range - because nuts, chickpeas and plantains are great nutritional sources to snack on. So yes, that's a green light for snacking - just as long as you choose wisely!

Please note: Chika's provided me with snacks to sample. Yum!


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