Snack Attack!! Part 1

It’s somewhere around 4pm; you still have a whole hour or more before you get home and start preparing supper, let alone eat it… and the hunger pangs hit. At best, it’s just a dull ache which you can choose to ignore, but at worst, you start feeling light headed or even “hangry” (if you’ve never heard of this appropriately named term, it means “a state of anger caused by lack of food; hunger causing a negative change in emotional state”). What do you do? If you have been wise and proactive, you will quickly reach for your pre-packed, nutritious snack before your blood sugar drops any lower. However, what if you haven’t anticipated this “afternoon slump” and have brought nothing? You will most likely grab the first thing you see, which will probably be something like a packet of crisps or chocolate bar. While these may ward off the hunger pangs temporarily, these nutritionally-empty snacks are actually counter-productive. Mary-Ann Shearer, best-selling author on health, says that when one craves something sweet, it is often the body signaling that it needs glucose (needed for everything from proper brain and central nervous system functions to lungs and hearts). Reaching for a chocolate bar or other sugary treat to satisfy this need will actually result in the body reacting almost immediately, and not in the desired way. In her book, Perfect Health, she writes, “your blood sugar shoots up to dangerous levels, and your body reacts by producing loads of insulin to bring it back down. As your blood sugar rises you feel energized and alive, but as it starts to come back down you feel lethargic, flat, tired, and even depressed as it reaches its low point, at which you crave sweets again and the whole cycle starts over”. Upsetting blood sugar levels like this will also disrupt the brain and central nervous system, the immune system and the endocrine system. Mary-Ann (who is an advocate of a high-fruit diet and is a living example of the benefits of this) suggests that one should rather reach for fresh fruit or a bit of dried fruit when the body signals its need for glucose. Many people are afraid of eating fruit, especially “too much” but this is amazing food is a true “superfood” and one which is very necessary for a healthy body and mind (I will cover this topic in a later article!)


However, if one craves salty food, Mary-Ann says that this is usually from a lack of essential fats in one’s diets and suggests natural, plant-based fats such as nuts/seeds, avo, olives etc.


Even when eating healthy snacks, it is important to only snack when you are really hungry and know that you will not be eating a proper meal for another few hours. In addition, make sure that you snack mindfully and not when you are in a hurry or on the go, and especially not when you are watching tv or are otherwise distracted (this can lead to overeating).


While doing some research on the topic of snacking, I found some interesting information, both for and against snacking. These are summarized below:


Pros of eating snacks (healthy snacks of course!)


  • Can help to keep one’s energy up as well as to keep one focused throughout the day, preventing that dreaded “mid-day slump”
  • Can help to prevent blood sugar from dropping too low
  • Can help to prevent over-eating at meal times
  • Can help to increase daily nutrients and fibre intake, especially when snacking on fresh fruit and vegetables


Cons of eating snacks (especially the wrong kinds)


  • Can lead to “grazing” (constantly eating throughout the day, without allowing the digestive system to rest)
  • Can lead to eating the wrong type of snack, especially if one is hungry and in a hurry (eg: chocolates, crisps or biscuits) which will lead to sugar highs and subsequent crashes
  • Can lead to weight gain if uncontrolled (or if the right, healthy snacks are not consumed), especially if eating when feeling bored, stressed or depressed
  • Often, the body will send out dehydration “signals” which could be misread, and the result can be eating when the body does not actually need to
  • Can slow down metabolism and not allow the body to burn fat effectively  
  • Doesn’t give the body time to fast naturally in between meals and digest food properly


***In Part 2, How to Curb the Cravings and Avoid the Snack Attack!***




“Perfect Health: The Natural Way” by Mary-Ann Shearer





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