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Dishing It Up On Snacking

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Dishing It Up on Snacking

Do you find that once the snow flies you drift into snacking and wanting to eat more? I do. Perhaps winter’s chilly temperatures trigger biological changes that stimulate hunger and increase cravings for more energy-dense foods. Call it an evolutionary drive to fatten us up to survive harsher conditions.

Another theory points to the fewer daylight hours. Sunlight is a cue for the brain to release serotonin, a mood-boosting neurotransmitter. So perhaps the relative lack of sunlight in winter prompts cravings for carbohydrates, which also stimulate the release of serotonin. People tend to be most vulnerable to snacking in the early evening, as darkness falls. And in winter, the window of time between dusk and dinner gets larger. If you snack mindlessly during this time, you just might get larger too. 😉

So this month I’m dishing it up on snacking. I’ll touch on the science of snacking, what to snack on when a snack makes sense and the type of “snacks” that are always A-OK!

This month in Dishing It Up on Snacking …

  • The Science of Snacking
  • Snacks that Satisfy
  • Beware of health claims on foods (especially snack foods)
  • Try an ‘Activity Snack’
  • The 7 best short workouts for heart health, strength and mood

Read on for a bite-sized summary and links for each story …

The Science of Snacking
“Although snacks can be a regular and important part of a healthy diet, they can also lead to health problems. What differentiates the two scenarios is one’s snacking behavior: what you snack on, why you snack, frequency of snacking, and how snacks fit into your overall eating plan.” Before snacking, make sure it isn’t thirst that’s making you feel hungry, especially as we become more dehydrated in winter. Drink a glass of water and wait 15 minutes to see if your hunger subsides before reaching for a snack.
Read more …

Snacks that Satisfy
If you are indeed hungry, then “pause before making a snack choice to consider what will truly satisfy: if you choose an apple when you really want salty popcorn or a creamy yogurt, you may feel unsatisfied and want more. If you do not have a specific craving but are trying to quiet hunger, choose a snack that is high in fiber and water that will fill your stomach quickly….A snack portion should be enough to satisfy but not so much that it interferes with your appetite for a meal or adds too many calories. A general rule of thumb is to aim for about 150-250 calories per snack.” Click on the link for some simple snacks to satisfy every craving – from crunchy and creamy to savory and sweet.
Try these simple snacks that satisfy …

Beware of health claims on foods (epecially on snack foods)
“CBC Marketplace tests 5 popular foods with healthy-sounding claims that may be too good to be true”. Spoiler alert: they usually are. These are just five products but they highlight the importance of always reading the nutrition and ingredient labels on the back before purchasing a product. Ignore the so-called health claims (a.k.a. marketing claims) on the front of the package. My favourite example in this article is the Welch’s Fruit Snacks package, the front of which states in big, bold type “fruit is our first ingredient” and “made with real fruit”. Whereas the small print on the side reads: “Not intended to replace fresh fruit in the diet.” That says it all, doesn’t it?
Read more …

Try an ‘Activity Snack’
We tend to become more sedentary in winter. The shorter days and often less-than-clement weather can make it unappealing to head outdoors. But that’s no excuse to sit on your butt all day. Instead, try activity snacking. Any and all movement adds up throughout the day. “A new study by researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada shows that breaking up prolonged periods of inactivity with brief spurts of exercise – like short walks or a set of squats – helps the proteins in muscles operate at their best….Putting “snacks” of movement into our routine right after a meal and throughout the day allows any protein consumed to best support our muscles”. So set a timer to remind yourself and get moving once per hour at minimum. Activity snacks are always okay at any time!
Read more …

The 7 best short workouts for heart health, strength and mood
“When it comes to health gains, it matters more how much effort you put in and how breathless you become while working out than how long you spend doing it….If you are time-strapped, then make sure the activity you do entails physical effort and you can cut the duration.” Read on for the 7 best short workouts for heart health, strength and mood.
Read more …


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