Snacks refer to any food eaten outside of a regular mealtime. As we get more pressed for time and less inclined to sit down for an evening meal, snacking has become increasingly part of our eating habits. The instant gratification, no hassle, no preparation style of food consumption fits with many of our busy urban lifestyles. But what is the cost of all this convenience?

In fact, theres nothing inherently wrong with snacks. Eating small amounts more often is arguably healthier than the traditional three meals a day Western eating pattern. This is because it boosts your metabolism by keeping your body burning calories throughout the day. So if youre in the habit of fixing yourself a light snack of raw carrots dipped in hummus or a fruit salad, you cant go wrong.

Unfortunately for most of us, snacks are synonymous with crisps, chocolate, sweets, cakes and kebabs on the way home from the pub. These are all foods that tend to be high in saturated fats, which clog up your arteries and considerably add to your calorie intake. They also often contain whats known as empty calories. That is they fill you up but not with anything that is nutritional. As your body is not getting what it actually needs, you will soon feel hungry again.

Whats more as snacks tend to be eaten on the go or outside of a normal structure, its far harder to keep track of how much youre actually consuming. Many people are in the habit of snacking not because theyre hungry but more because theyre bored, stressed or looking for comfort. Also if you eat snacks on the go rather then sitting down to a relaxing meal, you will put considerably more strain on your digestive system. The problem with sugary snacks is that they tend to play havoc with your blood sugar levels leaving you more vulnerable to diabetes. If you cant beat the craving to snack, try to go for something healthy or at least thats lower in calories. For example an 80z bag of crisps has over a 1000 calories where the same amount of popcorn has only 240 calories.

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