With more time spent at home over the past year, you may be finding yourself back and forth to the kitchen throughout the day. You may not even realize how frequently you’re popping in for that mid-morning snack or afternoon pick-me-up, not to mention, if you’re opening up the pantry once again late at night to continue snacking. While enjoying snacks throughout the day may seem harmless (and seems to be feeding your hungry body), having a snack all day actually isn’t doing your body any favors.
According to Mintel, 94% of Americans are snacking at least once per day, and that number is on the rise. So, when you open your pantry looking for a bag of chips to hold you over until your next meal, know that you’re not alone. However, it’s essential to understand exactly what is happening to your body when you’re constantly snacking all day, instead of simply enjoying a single snack or forming healthy snacking habits.
Here are some of the negative effects of snacking all day has on your body.
1. You’ll have a higher caloric intake.
Naturally, by eating more food throughout the day, you’re going to be consuming a higher amount of calories. And by eating more calories than your body actually needs, you’ll likely gain weight.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to give up snacking for good. In fact, numerous nutritionists actually say it’s good to enjoy a snack during your day—especially during that long stretch between lunch and dinner. It’s important to fuel your body when it’s hungry, instead of mindlessly snacking on empty calories that aren’t actually going to make you feel full. It’s important to make your snack a mini well-balanced meal, given that it’s the Only Way To Snack and Lose Weight, Say Experts.
2. Your body could be in a constantly inflamed state, which negatively affects your immune system.
When’s the last time you’ve thought about your immune system while having a bite of chips and guacamole? It turns out that snacking could actually be giving your immune system a major problem. Now more than ever we have become a snacking culture, eating semi-constantly throughout the day. Smartphone app data shows, not only are we eating on irregular schedules, but we’re spending 16 hours a day in a so-called “fed” state. This state is one that prompts immune system activity, as triggers the production of transient inflammatory response. Even though this is normal and perfectly healthy when eating just three meals a day, if you’re one to snack, you could be putting your body in a near-constant state of inflammation and stress on your immune system.
Instead, choose a time to enjoy one of your favorite snacks during the day—like one of these healthy snacks you can buy—so you feel fed without constantly keeping your body in that “fed” state throughout the day.
3. You’ll probably gain weight.
Even if you think you’re eating smaller meals due to snacking more throughout the day, odds are they’re not small enough to maintain your weight. Higher daily calorie intake, mentioned earlier, quickly turns into more weight gained. Weight gain will happen even faster if the snacks you are consuming are large or packed with protein. Research from BBC News found that the average American is taking in about 600 more calories than they were in the 1970s. That’s a drastic increase that is likely responsible for the widespread obesity throughout the United States.
Instead, the key to having a healthy snack is making sure to incorporate complex carbs, healthy fats, and fiber. This will ensure that your snack for the day is actually a filling meal instead of constantly feeling hungry and reaching into the chip bowl. A few easy examples of snacks that include these three key nutrients include an apple with peanut butter, Greek yogurt with berries, hummus and carrots, or whole-grain crackers with slices of cheese.
4. You could develop tooth decay.
As you could imagine, eating more frequently throughout the day, while sticking to the average teeth brushing schedule of once in the morning and once before bed, leaves plenty of time for bacteria from plaque to begin decaying your teeth. The worst snack food culprits that feed into this damaging bacteria are anything sugary or full of carbohydrates—chips, granola bars, candy, we’re looking at you. The more you snack throughout the day without brushing your teeth directly after, the more likely it is that you’ll have tooth decay.
5. It can prevent overeating at mealtimes.
The one significant positive we’ve found on snacking throughout the day is that it can prevent overeating at mealtimes, especially if your meals typically tend to be more spaced out leaving you feeling ravenous by the time your next meal rolls around. According to Healthline, this feeling could lead to eating more than you typically would and also making more unhealthy choices, which will ultimately result in significant weight gain. Thus, a small snack (or two) throughout the day, especially if they’re healthy snacks, could help to keep your extreme hunger under control.
6. You’ll have an increased risk of heart disease.
If you’re usually going for cookies, candy, chips, or pretzels when snack time rolls around, you could be increasing your risk of heart disease. The reason for that is these processed foods are all incredibly low in nutritional value and are also packed with refined sugars. The conditions that come with consuming these unhealthy snack foods can quickly lead to an increased risk of heart disease, especially, as noted by the American Heart Association, when eaten by an individual who is overweight.
Instead, ditch the processed foods and look for whole, real ingredients to snack on that are full of those nutrients that help you to feel full.
Article written by Rachel Linder for EatThis,NotThat