I think we've all been serial snackers at some point in our lives, be it a stressful night before an exam or just while binge-watching our favourite series. For me, it's almost like a ritual to have a snack before I put on something to watch. But as I am trying to be healthier and focus more on my eating habits, I realised how problematic my snacking habits were. I knew I had to change that for my own body and health and so I spoke to Dr Rohini Patil, an expert in the field of diet and nutrition and the author of the book The Lifestyle Diet to understand the mistakes, learn from them and bring a healthier change to these snacking mistakes that a lot of us make. Here's what she had to say:
1. Consuming Unhealthy Snacks
Usually, it has been seen that when people snack, 80% of the time they reach out to unhealthy foods for snacking like chips, cookies, candy, chocolates and processed junk food, which affect their health badly as these snacks can cause discomfort, bloating, flatulence, issues in digestion and other health problems. Whenever hungry in between meals you can always snack on healthy foods like nuts & seeds, roasted chana, roasted makhana, sprouts, fruits etc. and maintain your health at the same time.
2. Snacking Large Portions
Overindulging in snacking foods has become very common these days, especially since the pandemic, as people have started working from home. You should grade your hunger level and size the portion accordingly of your snacks, this will help you to manage your weight in a healthy way as well.
3. Not Checking Food Labels
Knowing what’s inside your food is very important when it comes to health, always check the food label given behind the pack while you buy snacks. There is complete nutritional information given, you need to check for fat, trans fat, sodium content alongside the preservatives used, the less a product has these the more healthier it is to consume.
4. No Focus On Food While Eating
It is a common habit in people, especially kids and teenagers, that they watch T.V. while eating or are busy on their mobile phones and have no attention towards the food. Hence, they end up overeating and do not chew the food well, which results in improper digestion and makes you vulnerable to digestive problems.
5. Salty Foods
One of the most repeated mistakes while snacking is the consumption of high salt foods which are high in sodium, which cause water retention in your body and make your body seem swollen and bloated. High sodium foods can also cause hypertension which may lead to several other medical problems.
6. Snacking At Night
There are days when we feel hungry during the night hours and we reach out to snacks for the rescue, but most people binge on unhealthy processed snacks which can lead to weight gain and other digestive problems. You can eat makhana, roasted chana, nuts & seeds, vegetable sticks with hummus dip etc. when you have hunger pangs during the night which will not affect your health in a negative way.
7. Lack Of Fibre
Snacking is important for your body to get the supply of energy constantly throughout the day but choosing the right snack is equally important too, and many people fail to do so. A snack rich in fibre is the right choice; fibre helps you to keep full for a longer period of time and helps in proper digestion.
8. Waiting Until Starved
Some people have the tendency to wait to eat until they are starved and are at the peak of hunger. This causes unnecessary stress on your body which affects the proper functioning of your system and there is a low supply of energy to the body to perform necessary functions. This can result in malnourishment and related health problems. You should eat food at regular intervals so that your body gets the energy which it needs for vital body functions.
9. Sugary Foods
When it comes to snacking, most people hoard over sugary foods like candy, chocolates, cakes, pastries, sweets and other bakery items which contain highly processed sugar and artificial sweeteners that are harmful to your health and can make you gain weight and can lead to other medical issues.
10. Unhealthy Dips
It has become almost a trend to dip the snacks in some or the other dips like mayonnaise, chipotle sauce, cheese dips etc. which are not that healthy for your body as they are rich in fats and may have trans fats as the component which will have adverse effects on your cholesterols levels, on your gut and on the overall body system. Try to avoid such unhealthy dips, you can replace them with homemade hummus dip, green chutney, homemade tomato sauce etc. which will help you maintain your health.
11. Improper Meal Planning
To reach a certain goal, you need a proper plan that will help you attain it. Not planning your meals and snacks beforehand makes you vulnerable to wrong food choices whether it is for snacking or the meals of the day, which then will take you far away from your fitness goals or will hinder your progress in the fitness journey. So for your fitness goals, first you have to understand your body's nutritional needs and accordingly plan out your diet or your meals of the day beforehand keeping your prevailing medical or health condition in mind which is a more sustainable way of staying fit and healthy.