Snacking is a guilty pleasure for many of us. Even those with the strongest of will powers can fall victim to their favorite farsan or mouth-watering mithai. There are times when the biscuit tin begs to be opened and that second slice of cake seems to creep effortlessly onto our plates.
According to research from market intelligence agency Mintel, three in five (60%) Indian consumers eat snacks at least twice a day. 15% of Indians are super snackers—snacking four or more times per day. The pressures of everyday life seem to drive Indians to treat themselves with snacks, with almost two in five (37%) snackers doing so to relieve stress. Other reasons for snacking, according to this research, include the desire to treat ourselves (44%) and taking a break (42%).
With lockdowns and restrictions due to the pandemic, Indians have taken to snacking even more out of boredom, far more than their global counterparts, according to a global survey by Mondelēz International and The Harris Poll. About 88% of Indian adults said they are snacking more (66%) or the same (22%) during the pandemic than they were before it. With Indian millennials often replacing meals with snacks.
The habit of snacking can be a hard one to break – after all, these little indulgences seem like mini-breaks and rewards while getting through the monotony of the day. However, snacking on junk foods, high in fat, sugar and salt can really take a negative toll on our bodies. Chronic overeating can lead to lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes and a range of health complications.
Switching to more mindful, healthy eating can do a lot to improve your health, mood and waistline. Here are some practical ways to help minimize your snack cravings and how to choose wisely when you need a little pick-me-up.
Watching TV or using your computer while you eat can lead you to mindlessly gobbling without being fully aware of exactly how much you’re putting in your mouth! Instead, step away from the screen and take time to think about what you’re eating and savor every mouthful of your food. Sometimes, when you are distracted, you may have the tendency to eat more food.
Our minds often wander to the cookie jar when we’re feeling tired or bored, so make sure that you get enough sleep to keep your energy reserves full so you don’t need food to stay alert. During the day, keep your mind from wandering to food by taking regular breaks from your screen.
Hunger is often mistaken for dehydration, so keep a bottle of water nearby at all times to stay hydrated. Before reaching for a snack, down a few sips of water, as you may well find that this satiates you. If you need something more substantial, try swapping snacks for a warm liquid such as tea or coffee.
Avoid energy slumps with optimal food choices. For breakfast, choose foods that will keep you fuller for longer, such as oats, yogurt, fruit and eggs. Lean proteins, grains and sweet potatoes are ideal for lunch. Finally, it’s okay to give in to the snacking monster from time to time, we’re only human after all and sometimes our body craves what it needs. For these occasions, it’s always handy to have healthy options nearby, such as homemade energy balls, wholewheat and multigrain rotis or crackers, makhana, poha, dahi (delicious with a drizzle of honey or spices), hummus with carrots and other veggies, and dried fruits and nuts.
Keeping healthy eating habits is one of the biggest investments you can make toward your future health and well-being. A good diet, as well as regular exercise, can help keep disease and ailments at bay. But life can still be unpredictable so it is important to also invest in good health insurance so that, should an unfortunate medical need occur, you are spared the financial burden of large hospital bills.