Healthy You

Dos and don’ts of snacking

Just a handful of dried fruits will take care of those noises in your stomach.

It is 6 pm and your stomach is growling. You want to snack but you remember your mother screaming from the past, “It will ruin your appetite”. So there you are swinging wildly between hunger pangs and your childhood teachings.

We now begin the big debate: To snack or not to snack.

Thanks to the burgeoning café culture and wayside eateries, today eating between meals is an important part of our lives.  We even have a route devoted only to eating called “Khao Gulli” dishing out delicacies and making snacking addictive.

But it was not a long time back when mealtime meant three broad repast – breakfast, lunch, and dinner; probably much less during the caveman days. With changing times we are now told to eat smaller meals every two hours! But the fact is that having smaller meals has nothing to do with your metabolism. It has all to do with doughnuts and burgers. If you go from hungry to famished, chances are that you will be tempted to eat unhealthy food. In spite of the deliberation, if your stomach still wants food here is what you can do:

Thirsty? Bored? A habit?

Many times we feel hungry when we are actually thirsty, confusing hunger with thirst. Figure out your hunger quotient by drinking water and waiting out your hunger.  Chances are that you will hydrate yourself and your stomach growls will slowly vanish. That is the reason why conventional wisdom tells us not to drink water before meals.

We are hungry or are you simply bored? Find something exciting to occupy your mind.  Remember the times when you were working overtime to meet those deadlines and you had to be reminded to have your meals.

If none of them works then you are probably actually hungry. While it is not bad to snack in between meals, this habit can lead to your weight gain. Do you want that? If you have made it a happy -habit of snacking, make it healthy.

Carry pickled carrots, cucumber or a mixed fruit platter in your lunch box.

Is snacking not right

Yes and No.

Yes, we snack:

Lured by food companies and warm inviting cafes, it is hard to hold on to your ‘ever-healthy’ diet plan. The café culture breaks your rules and you are well on the road to becoming a food rookie.  Junk the fast food and reach out for something healthier.

Tips:

Carry pickled carrots, cucumber or a mixed fruit platter in your lunch box. Bananas are filling and so are apples. Pick whichever fruit you like and enjoy it when you are hungry.

Dry fruits: Just a handful of dried fruits will take care of those noises your stomach makes.  If you are watching your weight, then alternate raisins with dried apricots, almonds with walnuts and drop the salted cashew nuts. Yes, much on dry fruits but with a little caution.

Bhel: A plate of tasty bhel of sprouts when hungry and willing to eat anything…now isn’t that is truly welcome?  Crush a puri on the sprouts to give it that crunch and make it awesome.

Dark chocolates: Chocolates with 75% cocoa is a great ‘hunger- controller’. But small bite size, please.

Proteins: Boiled egg sandwich, sounds interesting? Add pepper and celery to your sandwich. If you can get hold of low- fat mayo, splash it on your bread. Enjoy!

Many times we feel hungry when we are actually thirsty, confusing hunger with thirst. Figure out your hunger quotient by drinking water and waiting out your hunger.

No, we don’t snack:

Food sustains life. A look at the dietary wisdom of ancient cultures will indicate that our ancestors followed nutritional guidelines to sync in with the body’s demands for wholesome nourishment which went beyond just eating food. Therefore they credited their mealtimes to good fortune which needed to be shared with people. However, in today’s digital times, those dinner time are all but lost being replaced by Whatsapp.

Welcome to ‘Strictly No Snacks’ team.  Here the thinking is routed towards the autonomic nervous system where sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are at play.

A breakfast high in protein sets off the metabolism to keep you energized as well as satiated.

What is the link between the nervous system and snacking?

As we all know that sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is active when we are working or involved in an activity.  Termed as ‘fight or flight response’, we can safely say that that SNS is dominant when you are drinking coffee while driving or eating when working. Eating while in sympathetic mode robs your body of nutrients. Parasympathetic nervous system is at play when you are rested, calm and comfortable aiding digestion.

In the first case, instant gratification leads to snacking resulting in indigestion and all the related problems.  So whenever you are having your breakfast or lunch/dinner, switch to your food-mood and sit down to enjoy it. Having a healthy respect for food helps to curb one’s mood for mindless snacking.

Have a proper breakfast

A breakfast high in protein sets off the metabolism to keep you energized as well as satiated. This will also balance your blood sugar levels so that you will not suffer low blood sugar and feel weak.

So readers, when you do snack, pause and take time. Figure where it is coming from. If you are truly hungry, show up to your food with a good mood.

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