Is it a good idea to plan for snacking, if we are trying to control our weight? This is not an easy question to answer, as it depends on various factors. It used to be considered wiser to prefer small, frequent meals as a way to avoid "binge eating" during main meals. Recommendations in recent years have however tended to favour taking a break between meals, to give the body a chance to make use of its fat reserves. So which of these two theories is correct? The following information is designed to help you find your ideal mealtime schedule.

The purpose of snacking is to satisfy hunger pangs between meals. Children, who are normally more physically active than adults, need such small, interim meals in any case. But if we are trying to control our weight, it can make sense to eliminate snacks between meals. Longer breaks between meals (three to five hours) lead to a situation where the body has to make use of its reserves in order to cover its energy requirements. But you should not necessarily say "no" to a snack when you really are feeling hungry. If you have a long working day, with an early breakfast and a late evening meal, it can be a good idea to schedule in a snack to keep the hunger pangs at bay.

If you do decide to have a snack on the basis of the above criteria, try to choose from the following:

Drink water or a sugar-free soft drink, and take a short break in which to enjoy your snack.

Planning for snacks between meals does not mean constant nibbling, but rather the taking of a scheduled break designed to replenish energy.
Keep to regular mealtimes, and plan to consume small snacks where required (e.g. after physical exercise).

You should plan for three to six meals a day, depending on your individual needs. Try to find your own ideal mealtime schedule, and then keep to it. Keep in mind the need to relieve hunger pangs and maintain the sensation of feeling full. There is no "right" or "wrong" recommendation when it comes to establishing this daily rhythm. Think of your own personal needs. Do not become an enthusiast of some passing fad.


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