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Is snacking a good idea or is it bad for your health? What if you're trying to lose weight? What are some snacks you'd recommend?

Snacking has a bad rap, but eating several small meals or snacks throughout the day is actually a very healthy way to eat. People who eat "mini-meals" throughout the day tend to have an easier time controlling their weight. Of course the quality of the snack makes all the difference. As long as snacks contribute nutrients we need to stay healthy, then great. But if "snacks" are typically candy bars, chips, cookies and soft drinks, then they're not a healthy addition to anyone's diet, regardless of whether you want to lose or maintain body weight. If you have access to a refrigerator in your office, then you're ahead of the game. Keep a bag of baby carrots on hand, some containers of yogurt, fresh fruit, and bottled water. If you don't have refrigeration, then snacks that won't spoil at room temperature are best: nuts, granola bars, a jar of peanut butter and low-fat snack crackers, and instant, dehydrated soups (just add water). That way, when you're slaving away at work and hunger strikes, you'll have a healthful choice of snacks just a few steps away. We run into trouble when we find ourselves hungry, and only have access to vending machines for snacks. They are notorious for providing calorie-rich, nutrient-poor foods--foods that aren't good enough for your body! Beware of mindless snacking, however. This is when you find yourself munching all day long, without regard to your true feelings of hunger and satiety.

Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D., Former Nutritional Sciences Specialist, University of Missouri-Columbia

University of Missouri Extension Site Administrator: 

Last updated:06/17/2015
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