Most of us are trying to be “good.” If you are reading our blog, you are probably someone who thinks about the quality of your diet and makes an effort to pick quality foods. However, many of us stumble when it comes to snacking.
A new study from King’s College London found that one in four people undermine the benefits of healthy meals with unhealthy snacks. Researchers looked at the diets of 854 people. They found that half the people didn’t match the healthiness of their meals to their snacks, or vice versa. The disparity had negative impacts on their blood sugar and fat levels. More than 25 percent said they ate healthy meals but snacked on highly processed or sugary foods.
A recent study found that snacking isn’t as harmful as nutritionists once thought. The important thing is that snacks must be healthy and eaten at the right time of day.
In the U.S., 90 percent of us snack, and about 20 to 25 percent of our calories come from snacks. This study came from the U.K., where their diets are slightly different.
“Considering 95 percent of us snack, and that nearly a quarter of our calories come from snacks, swapping unhealthy snacks such as cookies, [chips] and cakes to healthy snacks like fruit and nuts is a really simple way to improve your health,” said Dr. Sarah Berry of King’s College London.
“We don’t go out into the weather and simply ‘hope’ it will be good; we protect ourselves against it, in all the right ways. A coat when it’s cold; an umbrella when it rains,” said Dr. David Katz, a specialist in preventive and lifestyle medicine and nutrition. He wasn’t involved in the study. “We should think of the food environment in just the same way, and not go out into a ‘climate’ of junk food and hope to eat well.”
Snackers in the study who ate seeds, nuts and fresh fruit had healthier BMIs than the unhealthy snackers. Snacking alone was not the problem in the study. It was the fact that the unhealthy snacks were undoing the benefits of eating well.
The takeaway from the study is that overall diet quality matters. Many of us think in terms of “cheat foods.” But those cheats quickly add up. Healthy meals can’t compensate for unhealthy snacks when such a high proportion of our daily calories come from snacks. It’s essential to take a step back and look at the quality of your diet overall. Your snacks have to match your meals for healthy results! Reach for fruit or nuts when you want a snack, and your diet quality will be thankful!