Is Inter-meal Munching a Healthy Habit?

Munching between meals is often seen as an unhealthy habit. Mostly because the snacks we usually munch on are unhealthy and could be high in calories, fat, sugar, and salt, and low in essential micronutrients. But it is wrong to think that inter-meal munching is a bad idea. In fact, eating the right inter-meal snack may aid satiety, and even promote some dietary goals such as weight loss. There are many ways to turn it into a healthy habit. In this article, we explain how to do so.

                                                                                                                                   Richa Pande

Eating at short and frequent intervals has many health benefits. It can aid in satiating the appetite preventing binge eating episodes later. This can make your weight loss journey easier. It helps in stabilizing blood sugar levels. It supports efficient metabolism mechanism compared to a slower metabolism which results from skipping meals. Eating at shorter intervals is also good for your digestion. Eating an inter-meal snack rich in complex carbohydrates with protein has been found to improve mood and productivity.

Stress and Inter-meal Munching

Have you noticed you tend to experience hunger pangs more when you are having a hectic day, or you prefer unhealthy foods when you experience stress? Similarly, we choose to have an extra meal on a stressful day. Evidence suggests that if you experience stress occasionally, stress can shut down your appetite. But if stress episodes persist, it can lead to hunger pangs, and increase in consumption of food high in fat and /or sugar.

Screen time and Munching Habits

Prolonged screen time is associated with increased appetite and unhealthy snacking habits. Note that all screen time is not of the same quality. Leisure screen time is not similar to educational screen time.

Are Claims Made by Products Really True?

All the claims made by brands in food marketplaces are not true at all. Some does not even make any sense. For instance, NO CHOLESTEROL claims on plant-based uncooked foods such as pasta. Consumers who check information on food labels can smartly identify the truth behind the marketing gimmicks. These are some tips that can help you in making smart choices:

  • Switch to healthier munching alternatives such as roasted chana, murmura with cut vegetables, khakhra, makhana, etc.
  • Choose recipes made from fruits and vegetables as your inter-meal snack. For example- soups, salads, zoodles, etc. Top it with seeds like sesame seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds
  • 30-50 grams of nuts such as cashews, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pistachio, etc. make a healthy inter-meal snack.
  • Pick products that have less additives and preservatives.
  • Pick foods high in fibre and protein.
  • Choose foods that provide 200-230 calories or less per serving.
  • Eat packaged foods as per the recommended serving size.
  • Choose products low in saturated fats.
  • Choose to eat whole fruits instead of drinking juice or flavoured juices available in the market.
  • Pick juices with no  added sugar and sugar substitutes and prefer the ones with more  fruit and vegetable concentrates.
  • Include fresh fruits and salads in your diet.
  • Check the ingredients list. Avoid products containing Palm oil/ Palmolein.
  • Choose products made in vegetable oils other than coconut or palm oil that are high in saturated fats. For example, sunflower, rice bran or any other oil that contains less saturated fats.
  • Check the quantity of sodium present in the product. Choose low sodium products.
  • Not all baked snacks are healthy, they may still contain palm oil or palmolein or high amounts of fats and calories. Don’t fall for the claim. Always check the ingredient list and the nutritive value table.
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