A snack is defined as food consumed between meals. An unhealthy snack is high in fat and/or sugar.
New research found 6 reasons people commonly scoffed, scarfed, shoveled and stuffed themselves with unhealthy snack foods:
- To enjoy a special occasion
- Opportunity induced eating (more below)
- To gain energy
- To reward oneself
- Social pressure
- To cope with negative emotions (relatively lower score)
The study included over 1,500 males and females. In line with previous findings, women more frequently reported snacking for a variety of the 6 reasons. Women tend to be more preoccupied with eating bahaviour than do men.
Can we help it?
Yes, by thinking about why we are snacking, and understanding our triggers. Unhealthy snacking behaviours may be habit and performed automatically. For example, opportunistic eating (reason #2) includes things like:
- Because I'm watching tv/a movie
- Because the food tastes so good
- Because the food is there
It is out of a lack of understanding people search for a reason to explain away or excuse their behaviour.
Should we help it?
No... But yes. Replacing high fat/sugar snacks with healthy snacks is great. It supplements your diet with nutrients you could otherwise may miss out on. Eg: a snack like yoghurt or a piece of fruit, you're getting fiber, calcium, protein, other micronutrients, etc.
Really understanding and identifying why you're snacking pinpoints your triggers. This allows you to make an informed, conscious decision, rather than an excuse. Being actively involved in your own decision making leads to less 'regretful' eating and allows you to enjoy the food (mindful eating).
Here are some healthy and tasty snack ideas for various situations: