When it comes to taking care of our diet, one of the most delicate moments is that of snacks or meals between meals. They are the least planned meals we have and in which we usually choose less healthy options, among other things, because the offer of unhealthy snacks is very large and is very close at hand, you just have to take a look at the vending machines that we find them in the offices, in the streets or in public places such as metro or train stations (and even in other more surprising places such as hospitals).
Is it obligatory to eat five times a day?
Although it is a widespread belief, it is not mandatory to have a mid-morning meal and a snack to maintain a healthy diet or to lose weight . It depends a lot on the situation of each person, on what their daily life is and on the intakes that they make before and afterwards.
Many people have a great time eating something to keep their hunger at bay or not to arrive with an excessive hunger for the next meal. If this is your case, keep doing it that way, as long as you snack on healthy foods.
If you do not have the possibility of having a mid-morning or mid-afternoon meal (because you’re in class or because you’re at your workplace, for example) or you’re just not hungry until the main meal, there’s no problem with you doing it alone three meals a day You can find more information on this topic in blogs such as Fitness Real (Víctor, its author, is a dietitian), but the premise is clear: a higher frequency of meals does have an impact on satiety, but not on body composition .
If you eat between meals, eat well
That said, the most important thing is that you make smart choices when eating between meals, either at snack or mid-morning. We can begin by analyzing why we are hungry between hours : in our society it is usually because we wake up early, we make a somewhat questionable breakfast – often only a coffee, when we really are hungry, but we do not have time for anything else – and we eat pretty late; and the same thing happens with the lunch-dinner interval.
The next step can be to see if we really are hungry or if it is only the worm or some kind of craving : in short, differentiate if it is real hunger or emotional hunger.
If we know that mid-morning or mid-afternoon we will be hungry, the best option is to plan it beforehand to have at our disposal healthy options with which we can satisfy ourselves. Healthy snacks that we can carry in our bag or backpack and that are not very annoying at lunch time (if we are in an office, for example) can be the following:
- A handful of nuts: the healthy fats, protein and fiber that they contain contribute to the feeling of fullness. You can choose a handful of nuts, peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds … Just make sure they are natural and not fried. You can take them in a tiny tupper or in an airtight bag and they can be eaten practically anywhere.
- A yogurt with pieces of fruit: better if we take the pieces of fruit separately and add them to a natural yogurt. This option is ideal if we are in the office and we have a fridge to store yogurt and fruit during the day so that it does not get bad.
- A toast of wholemeal bread with avocado, peanut or almond cream : if you prepare these creams at home (it takes five minutes and nothing special is needed, apart from a blender to pass the ingredients) you just have to prepare the toast Same morning before going to work. Or you can have a small jar in the office to keep it (the nut creams hold up well without a fridge, the avocado need to be kept cold).
- A piece of fruit: a banana is the most practical thing there is, as it is easy to transport and comfortable to eat. An apple, a pear, a pair of tangerines, two or three plums, a few strawberries … If you can take a tupper with the cut fruit you can choose pieces of pineapple or mango with a little cinnamon sprinkled on top. A good idea, if you are hungry, is to combine with the handful of nuts.
- Cheese with fruits and nuts: a delicious option that combines several flavors and textures is the tupper with fresh cheese whipped, mixed with pieces of fruit and a handful of crushed nuts. If you have a fridge in the office, this option is ideal.
There are many healthy options, these are just examples. But as you can see, the key is planning : if I know that mid-morning or mid-afternoon I will be hungry, before going through the vending machine and end up biting a dietary bar (well loaded with sugars for the most part) or a sugary soda, it is better option to bring something prepared from home.