An energy bar in the break between breakfast and lunch, chips in the afternoon, some chocolate in the hour before bed.
Whichever delicacy you choose, you might be one of the many Brits who rely on snack foods for their dietdrink throughout the day – or to satisfy a craving.
While you may not think of your snacks as a meal in themselves, they still fit into the category of what nutritionist Dr. What Sarah Berry calls a “dining event.”
The Associate Professor at King’s College London and Chief Scientist at ZOE recently appeared on the gut health platform Science and Nutrition Podcast. to discuss all things snacking.
Speaking to ZOE co-founders Tim Spector and Jonathan Wolf, Dr. Berry that Brits typically host six food events a day – including snacks and meals.
“In the UK and US, about 25 percent of our energy comes from snacking,” commented Dr. berry
However, she said that 75 percent of the snacks we consume are highly processed, which isn’t good for our health.
Think chips, Cadbury Dairy Milks, cookies and cakes, all of which are high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and unhealthy fat, but low in protein and fiber.
and dr Berry told Tim and Jonathan that a snack can be just as important when deciding where to eat as what we indulge in.
What’s the worst time of the day for a snack?
“Research shows really clearly that there are really unfavorable health effects from eating late, like after 6 p.m. or very late after 9 p.m., and there are many other randomized controlled trials that support this,” said Dr. berry
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According to the nutritionist, about 35 percent of people tend to snack late at night.
As for why, Tim said TV might have something to do with it.
“When you watch Gogglebox, everyone is watching TV. And on her sofa there are plates with sandwiches and cakes and cups with tea and coffee.
“And in many parts of the UK it’s a tradition. You can’t really watch TV unless you have some snacks there.”
dr Berry discussed some of the negative effects of late night snacking.
“One is that when you wake up, you’re hungrier,” she said, citing a study that compared people who ate their meals earlier in the day to people who ate them later.
The scientist continued, “But we also know it’s unfavorable because it goes against the body clock in terms of how you metabolize food.”
What kind of snacks should I eat?
dr Berry explained that when you eat a highly processed snack, “you eat a rush,” which puts you in a state of “metabolic chaos” where blood sugar spikes and then plummets again.
That drop in blood sugar you feel about two hours after eating your chips or cake may actually spike your blood sugar levels instead of saturating them.
“It also causes you to eat more at your next meal,” explained Dr. berry
A common thing with highly processed snacks is that you tend to eat them faster, which means you’re not giving enough time for satiety signals to reach your brain.
It’s not just chips and cake that make sure of that.
Many snack bars that are marketed as healthy trigger a similar response from the body unless they contain nuts, said Dr. berry
So the quality of what you indulge in to get you through the day is hugely important.
Jonathan said that when he’s not hungry, he eats dark chocolate.
Other healthy snacks for the evening include:
- Mixed Nuts
- Guacamole and chopped veggies
- Greek yogurt and berries
- Apple slices and peanut butter
- Dark chocolate and almonds
- Cucumber slices with hummus
- Hard boiled eggs