Whether you are a student or already a part of the workforce, your days can be hectic. Sometimes you are so busy that it is impossible to sit down for a meal properly. Instead of meals, people are forced to be content with eating snacks. This habit can be damaging to health. But what if we do not have a choice in the matter? Then we need to invent a healthier approach. Here is how!
Studying or working these days is both stressful and time-consuming. Education in Australia, for instance, means challenging curriculum with lots of assignments requiring considerable research. It meant studying, reading, writing the whole day long. All-nighters are quite frequent, too. Very often, a struggling student is so close to despair, that they hear sweet voices in their head saying, “Browse this site essay on time – then you would have a tasty dinner at last!” Constant stress and improper eating could have pretty dire consequences, though.
Let’s first define what we mean by “snacking.” Snacks:
- have high-calorie content;
- often contain a lot of sugar and/or additives;
- are eaten between meals (or instead of them).
We eat those “in-between” foods because they taste nice, they give us an energy boost (mostly because of sugars), and they suppress the feeling of hunger that interferes with our concentration and will to work. But is it really harmless?
Modern studies in nutritional science have discovered some disturbing truths:
- Round-the-clock snacking can lead to chronic inflammation;
- Eating high-calorie foods can lead to weight gain;
- Bad eating habits interfere with digestion. For instance, if you eat while walking or completing your assignment – your digestive system would not work properly.
- With a constant need to digest incoming food, your body does not have any time to renew its cells. It means you age faster;
- Snacking leads to the imbalance in your sugar levels – which means diabetes risk.
- Bad eating habits and imbalanced diet can very well lead to cancer.
Although skipping meals and living on portable food is not a completely healthy practice, it is an inevitable one in this day and age. It is not realistic to avoid the heavy load we have at universities and workplaces. If we are forced to snack – we better choose healthy versions to support our bodies and well-being!
BASIC RULES FOR SNACKING HEALTHY
- Eliminate all the unhealthy variants possible. It is not healthy to:
- eat foods with high sugar, salt or fat content;
- have a huge load of greasy food that is comparable to a real meal in calories or in size;
- eat just to pass the time or to accompany a movie or reading a book;
- Eat/drink on the go;
- Consume a lot of coffee/black tea instead of eating.
- A healthy snack is:
- Portable (an apple, a wrap, a bruschetta;
- Contains no more than 200-300 healthy calories;
- A combination of several types of macronutrients (carbohydrates+fat, fat+protein, etc.).
- Eaten when you are actually hungry;
- Observe proportions.
The rule of the thumb: if the food item has a high-calorie content – take less of it. For example, put a small amount of butter/jam on a piece of a whole-grain toast.
- Even munching an apple should be similar to a meal.
It is better to eat without distractions, or together with somebody. Then you would give your body time to digest it. Do not eat while watching TV or reading a textbook! It is not healthy to eat on the go either.
- Choose something that will last.
If you eat something sugary or greasy, you will feel a boost – but then you will be hungry again in two hours. Instead, go for something filling enough that would last you at least four hours. For example, a vegetable wrap with turkey.
- There are always healthier alternatives:
- Whole – grain bread is better than white bread or a bun.
- Goat cheese or low-fat cheese is better than higher-fat versions.
- Fruit, nuts, or berries can be used instead of sweetener – filled foods.
- Baked is better than fried in oil, etc.
- Divide and conquer.
A snack divided into smaller portions is easier digested. It also makes you full quicker.
- Do not overlook nuts and grains!
Nuts are both portable and nutritious. Grain-based foods, like grain cookies or granolas, contain fiber that is crucial for digestion, counteracting inflammation, and providing you with much-needed energy.
- Remember fish.
Eating wraps or rolls with tuna, salmon, or other sea fish will provide you with fats useful both for your body and your thinking abilities!
- Despite everything – snacks are not meals!
It is still better to take proper, balanced meals, even if you observe all the rules above.
The bottom line of all these rules is next – if one must snack, it is better to do it mindfully, savoring your food and providing your body and your brain cells with energy. This way you will bring your work on another level!