Ep. #90: Is Snacking Bad?

Is snacking bad? Woman taking a picture of her food while sitting at a cafe.

Today’s episode is all about snacking! As I sat down to record this podcast, I just happened to have been finishing up a snack myself. As an intuitive eater, I think it’s important to fuel my body whenever I need to. Sometimes that means full meals, and sometimes that means snacks! (There really isn’t a “wrong” approach here.)

Quick note: I’m only accepting clients into my Quit Dieting for Good program through September! (Since I’m pregnant, I’m building in a bit of a maternity leave for myself.) I’d love to chat with you about how you can get started with intuitive eating today! Personalized support, group coaching calls, workshops, guided visualizations, 6 amazing modules, and more — I love the content in this program!

The Mixed Messaging of Snacks

There are SO many messages about snacking! And all those messages lead to questions.

Is snacking acceptable? How many snacks should I (can I) eat in a day? Is snacking good for you? What’s the “best” or “right” kind of snack?

If you’ve ever been on a diet, you know all about the different thoughts on this. From a resounding NO, to encouragements to eat many snacks a day, the advice is all over the place. Rather than looking for an answer “out there”, I’d like you to consider –

Does snacking work well for you? For your body? For your emotions?

Often intuitive eaters will find that the answer to those questions just depends. Some days larger meals might feel better. On other days, snacking might work better.

In addition, seasons of life can change how you might answer those questions. As a pregnant lady, I find that the big meals I usually prefer just don’t work that well for me right now. So I’m eating smaller meals and more snacks to keep myself fueled throughout the day.

Figuring Out Your Snacking Needs

What are you currently doing when it comes to snacks?

Do you have current beliefs about snacks? Most importantly, do those beliefs help you or hinder you?

Often we believe that snacking has some connection to our weight. We either restrict and limit ourselves because we think snacking is bad…

Or we eat lots of small meals and snacks because we’ve been told that’s the best way to lose weight.

Instead of just blindly snacking (or not) because of hidden beliefs, I’d encourage you to dig a little deeper to get to the root of WHY you’re currently eating the way you’re eating. So often we get into habits and routines that aren’t truly about what’s best for our own bodies and lives.

But what if you WANT a large meal? A big hearty salad, a full bowl of curry, or a large burrito that will fill you all the way up (as opposed to a bunch of smaller snacks), might feel really good for you and your body.

(Listen in to the full episode to hear about one of my client’s “snack dinners”!)

A Client’s Story

A client of mine was eating small lunches and snacks during the day, and a full dinner in the evening. And by the time she got to dinner, she was inhaling her food! She told me about it, and shared she wanted to slow down and enjoy that meal. At first she thought it would help if we focused on eating mindfully. And we did do some great work with that!

But then we realized that she had internalized this idea that snacking or grazing on really small meals all day was better for her than eating full meals. As a result, she was doing that….and then coming home and speed-eating her dinner!

Rather than continue to eat snacks because of a hidden belief about them being “better”, she chose to listen to her own body. And for her, eating larger meals that filled her up felt much better!

Slowing down and eating more mindfully is something she can enjoy doing when she knows she’s going to actually get full and feel restored after a meal. The snacking life just wasn’t cutting it! (Although she also knows she can always revisit that later — sometimes our needs change, and we get to change too!)

Food Freedom Can be Real!

In the last diet I ever did before I became an intuitive eater, I was fed the line about that diet really being a “lifestyle” and the “best way to eat”. The food freedom and lifestyle I was hoping for just didn’t work.

I realized I was overeating during lunch, because I was really stressed out about staying full until dinner. Since I didn’t “get” to enjoy snacks, I had to eat an uncomfortable amount of food earlier in the day. That’s not great!

When I know that I can eat snacks when needed, I can relax and allow myself to enjoy my meals. Whenever I’m full, I can stop, with the knowledge that I can eat more whenever I need to. If that’s not until dinner, great! If that’s in a few hours and then I need to refuel with a snack, no problem!

True food freedom for me didn’t happen until I was able to freely eat in a way that feels good for my body and works in my life. That might mean big meals, small meals, snacking throughout the day, or not many snacks at all. It changes from day to day, and season to season.

The choice I make about snacking aren’t “good” or “bad”. They aren’t rules for me to follow (or for you to copy)! They’re just ways of eating that are based on what works for me right now.

There are No Rules

+ What does your schedule look like?

+ What would feel good for your body?

+ Are there foods you really like to eat?

+ What meals do you really enjoy?

Based on your answers, keep those things on hand! I love to have apples and nut butter available, because I really enjoy those as fuel in my day.

Play with what works with you. Pay attention to what meals or foods make you desire a snack pretty quickly. (If I eat cereal for breakfast, I feel a need for more fuel within 2 hours! If I eat something with protein, I can go quite a bit longer without needing anything else.) If I have a busy morning and won’t have time for a snack, I make sure to plan a breakfast that will hold me over for longer.

Another thing to think about — there are no rules about what a “snack” is. You can define for yourself what food work as snacks, and what feels best as a full meal.

Let Snacking Be Neutral

Resist the urge to label snacking as “good” or “bad”! Instead, practice listening to your body and checking in throughout the day. Don’t be afraid to skip a snack you would normally eat….or to eat a snack you wouldn’t normally consider!

One last thing to consider: Sometimes snacking is about our emotions. (No need to make this “bad” or “good” either!) If you think a lot of snacking might be tied to emotions, I’d love if you listened in to Episode 22, which is all about actually feeling your feelings!

At the end of the day, there is no wrong way to go about snacking. My biggest advice is to regularly:

+ Check in with your snacking beliefs.

+ Think about your own schedule and needs. Experiment!

+ Prepare yourself with snack & foods you like, and eat them as needed.

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