Snacks are anything you eat in between your three main meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner. While clients often come to me and deny eating snacks because they look at snacks as being “bad” or not nutritious foods, they really are essential in any eating plan. Snacks can be nutritious foods or they can be looked at as mini meals at times too. It doesn’t mean you have to eat something less nutritious.

Snacks are an important component in learning to reliably feed yourself. They provide nourishment and energy in between meal times throughout the day. This in turn will help prevent you from becoming overly hungry at meal time.

While yesterday we talked about just focusing on eating 3 main meals a day as a starting point, having in between meal snacks can be just as important. It’s the second component to building your food management skills.

Learning to Snack

So now it’s time to add on. How did you do with eating 3 main meals today? Did you find it easy to accomplish or did your struggle with the meals? If you are struggling getting the 3 main meals a day, you may need to keep working on meals before adding on snacks.

However, if you are ready to move on it’s important to check in with yourself every 3-4 hours to gage your hunger. As we talked about yesterday, this might mean setting an alarm to go off every 3 hours to remind you to check in with yourself. If at the 3 hour mark you are hungry and it isn’t time for a meal, I recommend having a snack.

If you aren’t hungry yet, set the time for another hour so you can check it with yourself at the 4 hour mark. Are you hungry? Then eat a snack.

Getting Enough

Remember, yesterday we talked about Ellyn Satter’s Hierarchy of Food Needs. Working on “getting enough” is very important. Getting enough means eating when you are hungry and feeling as if you have had enough to eat. Having snacks is usually an important part of this.

If you get stuck without anything to eat because of a meeting, working late or just running errands for longer than you expected not having a snack can bring up those feelings of not getting enough. Food insecurity will only result in you grabbing something fast and less nutritious or being overly hungry by the time you get to the next meal. All of these are likely to lead to you eating faster and eating more than you body requires.

For example, I had a client we will call Bill. He never planned for his meals. He typically ate whatever and whenever he could with his schedule. He presented to me as overeating to the filling of being stuffed. Sometimes he was so stuffed he would just want to go to sleep or lay down due to his uncomfortableness. Well it turns out Bill didn’t fair well with eating this way. He never quite felt as if he was truly full until he was too full. He, also, never knew when his next meal would come. In return, he lacked the ability to feel as if he was getting enough.

It wasn’t until he was able to establish regular eating times where he had planned meals and snacks did he find that he was so ravenous. He actually found he wasn’t as hungry at meals and/or snacks and was able to stop when he was full preventing that uncomfortable fullness.

It’s okay to snack when you are hungry.

So while, you may in the past tried to avoid eating snacks to cut calories or avoid eating, snacks can actually help you with the opposite. They can actually help you stay more in control with your eating by allowing your body and brain to understand it can get enough.