Weekly Column from Johanna Hicks for June 14th, 2019: Taking Aim at Snacking Myths

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Taking Aim at Snacking Myths

               Who snacks?  Just about everyone!  A nutritious snack can give you an energy boost when you need it.  A planned snack can prevent overeating and actually can be healthy when replacing empty calories.  Empty calories (those lacking nutrients) include soft drinks, sugary beverages, candy, sweets, some chips, and other high-calorie, high-fat foods.

               Here’s a quiz to see if you need to plan your snacks a little better:

  • Do you reach for anything close at hand to eat when you are stressed?
  • Do you know exactly what is in the vending machines at work?
  • Do you seldom have time to sit and eat a meal?
  • Have you eaten three or more “empty calorie” snacks, such as cake, candy, or soft drink this week?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these, a little snack planning may be in order!

               Many people can benefit from eating snacks.  Growing children with tiny appetites may not be able to fulfill their energy needs with only three meals a day.  Snacks can provide what may be missing from their meals.  Teens are well know for their snack attacks, because they have high energy and nutrient needs to support their growing bodies.  Carefully chosen snacks can help fuel their growth.  Older adults who can eat only small portions of food at a time my find it easier to maintain their health by eating snacks in addition to their meals.   Athletes of all ages have increased energy demands.  They especially need energy in the form of carbohydrates, which help power exercising muscles.  Snacks such as sandwiches, cereals, pasta, fruit and milk can help give athletes the additional energy they need.

               Snacks can offer some disadvantages as well.  This depends on the types and amounts of nutrients they contain.  Mindless nibbling can lead to trouble in the form of unwanted calories.  Some snacks, such as potato chips, candy, and other sweets, can add a lot of fat.  A high-fat diet is clearly linked with chronic diseases such as heart disease and some cancers.

               Despite the benefits that snacks can offer, many people think of snacks as something extra they should not eat.  Here are five common myths:

Myth:  Snacks are fattening.

Fact:  Eating a snack during a long stretch between meals can take the edge off hunger.  Of course, specific snack food choices will make a difference.

Myth:  Snacks spoil your appetite before meals.

Fact:  Eating a small amount of food (a piece of fruit, for example) two or three hours before a meal will not spoil your appetite.  By eating a snack, you can be more in control of your food choices and less inclined to overeat at your next meal.

Myth:  Snacking can cause cavities.

Fact:  While smacks expose the teeth to food and decay-producing bacteria more often, choosing foods that are not sticky and rinsing your mouth afterward can help prevent cavities.  Better yet, brush after snacking, if you can.

Myth:  Snacking is the same as eating junk food.

Fact:  Making better choices can help fill in the gaps in meals to complete a healthy diet.

Myth:  Healthy snacking means that I can never eat potato chips again.

Fact:  It is possible to eat un foods and still follow a diet that is low in fat, but it requires a little planning.  If you have a high-fat shack, you need to balance that out with lower-fat choices at other meals.

Remember, one snack, one meal, or one day of eating cannot make or break your health.  It is what you eat consistently over time that counts.

               Here are some on-the-go portable snacks to consider to fit a hectic schedule:

  • Fruit – apples, pears, etc.
  • Carrots
  • Juice boxes (make sure it is 100% juice, and not “juice beverage”)
  • Pretzels
  • Popcorn (avoid high butter, high salt)
  • GORP – good old raisins and peanuts!  Use whatever combo sounds goods to you – dried fruits, seeds, nuts, cereals, etc.

For more ideas on snacking, go to www.bmbhc.org (“Snack Attack!  Take Action!”) or www.nutrition.com (“Snack Attacks or OK”)

Upcoming Events

  • Diabetes Support Group: 4th Tuesday of each month, noon, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Hopkins County Office (next meeting is June 25)
  • Skills Camp: Monday thru Thursday, July 29 thru August 1 (we still have a few openings)  Hopkins County Extension Office, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon
  • Back-to-School Fair:  Friday, August 9, 3:00 – 6:00 p.m., Civic Center
  • Get a Taste for Reducing Food Waste series: Monday and Thursday, August 12 & 15, 10:00 a.m., Hopkins County Extension Office
  • Twogether in Texas Marriage Education workshop: Saturday, August 24, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Hopkins County Extension Office

For more information on all these event, call 903-885-3443.

Closing Thought

Tomorrow is the longest day of the week.  It has to be because of all the things we are going to do – anonymous

 

 

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