Nutrition Expert: Sana Saiyed, Practicing Clinical Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, Mumbai
A trend of the increasing prevalence of obesity and obesity-related comorbidity and mortality was observed over the last few decades (1).
The International Association of the Study of Obesity (IASO) reported on the country rankings in terms of percentage global prevalence of adult obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) in the year of 2012, where Tonga ranks first with 56.0% obese adults (46.6% of obese male and 70.3% of obese female).
The prevalence of overweight and obesity will reach 30.5% (27.4%-34.4%) and 9.5% (5.4%-13.3%) among men, and 27.4% (24.5%-30.6%) and 13.9% (10.1%-16.9%) among women, respectively, by 2040.(2)
The feeling of fullness that persists after eating is an important factor in suppressing overconsumption, which can lead to overweight and obesity, hence mid-meal snacks are important for achieving weight loss.
Long intervals between meals cause peaks and dips in your sugar levels. After the immediate post-meal sugar high, you’ll experience an almost immediate energy slump.
You feel lazy, fatigued, irritable, and dizzy. But by chomping a mid-meal, your body gets its steady supply of glucose that keeps you bursting with energy all day long.
A 2011 study developed a behavioral approach to assess whether objective criteria for eating a meal and snacking could be determined through multiple small sub-studies and found that, although snacks, in general, exerted a weak satiety effect, snacks higher in protein, compared with those with a higher carbohydrate or higher fat content, had the strongest satiety effect (3).
Although it is important to consider the findings from this particular study, multiple studies have found satiating effects of a variety of foods and nutrients consumed as snacks, since they are rich in fibers.
Counting on portion size is also a very important factor to look after for a healthy weight loss.
Never eat straight out of the packet, instead remove the snacks in a bowl of appropriate size which can help you in controlling the portion.
Tips to Keep in Mind
Put snacks in small plastic containers or bags so they are easy to carry in a pocket or backpack. Putting snacks in containers helps you eat the right size portion. Plan ahead and bring your own snacks to work.
Limit “junk-food” snacks like chips, candy, cake, cookies, and ice cream. The best way to keep from eating junk food or other unhealthy snacks is to not have these foods in your house.
It is OK to have an unhealthy snack once in a while. Never allowing any unhealthy snacks or sweets may result in sneaking these foods. The key is balance and moderation.
- Replace the candy dish with a fruit bowl.
- Store foods like cookies, chips, or ice cream where they are hard to see or reach. Put ice cream at the back of the freezer and chips on a high shelf. Move the healthier foods to the front, at eye level.
- If your family snacks while watching TV, put a portion of the food in a bowl or on a plate for each person. It is easy to overeat straight from the package.
If you are having a hard time finding healthy snacks that you want to eat, talk to a registered dietitian or your family’s health care provider for ideas that will work for your family.
Fruits and vegetables are good choices for healthy snacks. They are full of vitamins and low in calories and fat. Some whole-wheat crackers and cheeses also make good snacks.
Some examples of healthy snack components are:
- Apples (dried or cut into wedges), 1 medium or ¼ cup (35 grams)
- Bananas, 1 medium
- Raisins, ¼ cup (35 grams)
- Fruit leather (dried fruit puree) without added sugar
- Carrots (regular carrots cut into strips or baby carrots ), 1 cup (130 grams)
- Snap peas (the pods are edible), 1.5 cups (350 grams)
- Nuts, (28 grams) (a handful of almonds)
- Whole-grain dry cereal (if sugar is not listed as one of the first 2 ingredients), ¾ cup (70 grams)
- Low-fat or nonfat yogurt, 8 oz.(224 grams)
- Toasted whole-wheat English muffin
- Air-popped popcorn, 3 cups (33 grams)
- Cherry or grape tomatoes, ½ cup (120 grams)
- Hummus, ½ cups (120 grams)
- Pumpkin seeds in the shell, ½ cup (18 grams)
For every calorie you eat, your body needs calories to digest it. Snacking between meals gives your body an internal workout; you are making your body work constantly and burn calories to digest food. This activity gives a huge boost to your metabolism. And increased metabolism results in weight loss.