To snack or not to snack….?

Weight loss industry is a few billion dollars industry and every one feels that they know more about the diet and exercise. It is funny! You will not see a doctor or any medical professional giving advice about what could be the outcome of legal issues or engineering issues etc, but everyone thinks that they know about diet and exercise. Few people take crash course and become diet counsellor. Some people even do not need to take course. They go on the internet, google what they want, and become self-proclaimed counsellor. While seeing my clients, I come across this very frequently. Then I have to explain few things about the dietary pattern and why crash diet won’t work and why do you feel like you feel right now? Frequently questions that  I get are ( For those who want to lose weight),” should I snack , how many times should I snack and what should I snack?”Let’s address the issue, Shall we?

Typically a person eats 3 major meals and few times snacks. People take breakfast, snack , lunch, snack, snack and dinner and one more post dinner snack may be. Wow! Every couple of hours, we are eating, pushing something in the stomach. Majority type of snacks are fried foods, bread and cheese,chips, cookies, bars, sandwich, fancy snacks etc. Well, how many of people actually eat consciously? Let us look at our body as if we are looking at a third person. –

We have a stomach which holds and stores food and releases into intestine approximately 2-3 hours. Not completely, but major portion of it. When that happens and blood glucose starts falling, your stomach sends signal to your brain about food. When there is true hunger, your mouth starts salivating with the thought of food, stomach starts expanding. The stomach has muscles which needs to go back to the original size from time to time to function at optimum level. What happens if the rubber is kept stretched for long time, it starts losing its elasticity.Right?  Similarly when stomach is stretched for long time, it starts to lose its recoil and the stretch receptors (which give the signal that your stomach is full) do not function properly. This results in eating more food, because you don’t think you are full. It requires at least 15-20 minutes for stomach to send the signal that” I am full, ask the mouth to stop eating”.  As we are in hurry , we dump all the food in to stomach and expect stomach to digest it every couple of hours. The body has to work extra to fully utilize what has been dumped. How long is stomach going to suffer? It gets exhausted. It produces much more acid and when it occurs frequently, we get” acidity, indigestion, stomach upset etc” . Sounds familiar?  Good. Lets move further.

The type of snacks we eat are usually rich in carbohydrates, refined foods and artificial ingredients. No nutrition and lot of things to process, body then starts showing lethargy and weakness and dullness. “I feel tired at the end of the day” is the most common complaint. So what do we usually do? We get some cookies and coffee or tea and few tea time snacks and try to get out of the tiredness. Also by feeding our stomach continuously with these sugary snacks( Oh Deepti, but I do not eat sugar!! Well all carbohydrates get converted into glucose , you do not need to eat sugar to get glucose .) we continuously increase our insulin levels. Result? The weight gain-Both muscle and fat( more of fat) , then insulin resistance and then the breaking news- Ting ting ting! You have been diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. How did it happen? I don’t know!Ask yourself! Those with family history, if do not take measure early, have to suffer from diabetes at early age. Wake up nation! Time to change!!. Oh, but my ancestors used to eat a lot of snacks? Yes that’s true but they did more physical work too. Right?

All I am saying is take a break from eating continuously. If you are going to eat lunch within 4 hours of breakfast, then please do not have a snack in between.But what about increasing metabolism? I will lose my metabolism. 😱 No silly! Giving a break to eating in between gives time to prepare gastric juices which will help in proper digestion of food. We want optimal metabolism, not the excess metabolism. Excess one will burn you out. How to eat sensibly? Always add protein and good fat in breakfast. Same with post lunch snack and post dinner snack if required. We are supposed to keep a gap of 4-5 hours between major meals. When the gap is longer then have a snack which is usually vegetable/ fruit with protein and good fats like apple and cheese, carrots and hummus, cucumber and full fat yogurt or a glass of buttermilk or boiled egg or boiled chana/chickpeas. It should just keep you going through the time to have a proper meal. Drink a glass of water every few hours. We usually confuse thirst with hunger. So let’s do sensible snacking or UNsnacking ! 😉

P.S. – This advice is not for people who are on multiple dose of insulin or athletes. Check with your doctor and please do not follow any advice blindly.