Snacking Can Actually Be A Good Thing, Here’s Why

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When you hear the word “snack”, what immediately comes to your mind is chips, cookies and everything sweet. This assumption makes many people hate even the idea of snacking. It however, turns out that eating between meals can actually be beneficial for you — that is if you make healthful choices. Also, as we grow older, we start consuming less food at meals, so snacking in between can compensate those losses. Today, we are listing some of the benefits of snacking and why it can be a good thing for you.

1. Snacking can help reduce stress.

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When you feel stressed, your body releases cortisol, which is the fight-or-flight hormone that causes your blood sugar levels to significantly drop. So, a quick snack with carbohydrates can get your blood sugar back to normal, and “you” functioning again. While quick snacks like cookies and candies can help boost your blood sugar levels and initially calm your stress response, they can in fact be bad for you. Dietitians suggest that you’ll want to snack on foods that keep blood sugar stable, which includes those that have fiber and protein (such as chickpeas, quinoa, fruit and yoghurt).

2. Snacking helps you overcome the afternoon slump you experience everyday.

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It’s completely normal for us to feel mid-afternoon energy slump. During this time, we often experience a dip in  alertness, energy level, and ability to concentrate. And if you’re someone who has to wake up early for work, then you are someone who experiences this more than others. According to experts, this mid-afternoon energy slump is a natural response to circadian rhythms (which typically make us most sleepy from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.). While we can’t do anything about our natural circadian rhythms, there are ways to address some of the issues, with one of the most obvious ones being “sleep”.

If you are however someone, who works a 9 to 5 job, then naps are something you can’t take. So, the best way to avoid this mid-day slump is by snacking on fruits and vegetables. Drinking a hot beverage around the time can also help bring your core temperature up to counter some of the natural circadian rhythm effect.

3. Snacking helps you boost your brain power.

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If you ever needed a reason to eat some chocolate, then here’s one. According to researchers, eating dark chocolate can change your brain wave frequency and help memory improvement and stress reduction. Chocolate boosts the production of endorphins, better known as the ‘feel-good’ chemical of your brain. This ‘feel-good’ chemical can give you a more positive outlook, thanks to the way it impacts your hormones. A new research conducted by David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA found that eating a handful of walnuts a day may help improve memory, concentration and information processing speed.

4. It can help you get a good night’s sleep.

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Most of us have heard that it’s unhealthy to eat before going to bed. It’s healthy as long as we choose the right foods and drinks. Sleep is an important part of our lives and it is recommended that we get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. During winter months however, it can be hard to achieve this since the low temperatures can cause us to wake up early in the morning.

According to one study titled ‘Dietary Sources and Bioactivities of Melatonin‘ published in NCBI, eating a handful of almonds may help boost sleep quality. This is because almonds, along with several other types of nuts, are a source of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin. It’s also an excellent source of magnesium, providing 19% of your daily needs in only one ounce.

5. It helps improve social bonds.

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Image: Priscilla Du Preez

In addition to the nutritional value of snacking, it also helps improve social bonds. Research from the University of Oxford found that eating together increases happiness and relationships.

“The more often people eat with others, the more likely they are to feel happy and satisfied with their lives.”

Using data from a national survey by The Big Lunch, researchers discovered that there’s a link between social eating and an individual’s happiness, the number of friends they have, their connection to their community, and overall satisfaction with life.

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