Snacks: Do they have a place?

People have a love-hate relationship with snacking. Many think snacks do not have a place, especially when it comes to weight loss. To lose weight, many choose to ignore hunger signals, especially between meals. The belief is that best way to lose weight is through deprivation and pushing through to the next meal will help with weight loss goals. 

The truth is that snacking can have a place in a balanced diet. Honoring hunger, and fueling the body when needed, is appropriate. Issues arise when snacking is not a result of true physical hunger. Having snacks that are not out of necessity is a common and can interfere with weight loss. Snacking out of boredom, stress, habit, or the simple presence of food, is where people run into trouble.

Food choices at snack time also can be an issue. Just like meals, snacks should be planned. If mid-afternoon hunger strikes, and there are no nutritious options available, a vending machine, gas station, or office break room will often lead to poor choices. Ensuring lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are easily accessible will allow for snack choices to be nutritious and filling. 

Weight loss surgery increases fullness and significantly decreases hunger, making between meal snacking less likely. Between meal snacks, however, can still have a place after surgery. If protein goals are unable to be met through meals alone, then incorporating a protein snack may be necessary to ensure adequate nutrition. If there are excessively long periods between meals (ex., lunch at 11am, dinner at 7pm), then a planned snack of fruit, vegetable, and/or protein, is appropriate in order to prevent arriving to the next meal overly hungry (which can lead to overeating).

Snacking is not the enemy. Honoring hunger is important, whether pre or post bariatric surgery. Ensuring that snacking is out of hunger, and that nutritious choices are made, allows our bodies to be fueled with the energy needed to power our day and promote weight management.