top of page
  • Isara Moriya

Mindfull X Shield - Is Snacking Bad for You?

You have it while studying, when your blood sugar drops, and when you hang out with friends. Snacks are a staple of most people’s diets. While the definition is ambiguous, a “snack” is generally defined as food eaten between regular meals. Snacks give sustenance between meals, are essential to social gatherings, and most people have at least one a day. But what are its pros and cons, and how does it affect one’s health?

We all snack, but why is it that we do so? There are various motivations for snacking that researchers have studied and compiled. What makes us want a snack depends on the person and situation. The first and most obvious is hunger. Hunger is a biological cue that the body sends when it wants nutrients. However, without hunger, a person is more likely to gain weight. A study offered habitually nonsnacking subjects snacks after lunch and dinner. While their bodies showed no biological hunger cues, they ate the snacks, conforming to unnecessary snacking.

Talking about snacking without hunger, other factors contributing to snacking are location, social & food culture and environment, distraction, and hedonic eating.

  • Location: eating at home versus eating at a camp or other unusual environments contributes to snacking more than usual

  • Social & food culture and environment: food-insecure populations may use snacking as a means to skip meals (socioeconomic status,) an eating companion’s habits and how much they eat (social culture,) and cultural meal patterns like the goûter in France (food culture)

  • Distraction: eating while watching TV or playing video games tends to increase the amount of snacks eaten later in the day

So, are snacks bad for you? Not necessarily. A clear conclusion about snacks is yet to be made, as the definition is often too broad. However, here are some of the pros and cons of snacking in general.


  • provides a boost of energy when blood glucose levels drop

  • prevents overeating in the next meal

  • provides extra nutrients if you choose nutrient-dense snacks like fruit or nuts


  • constitutes unwanted weight gain in increased frequency and quantity

  • makes a person lose their appetite, skipping meals, and consequently, losing out on important nutrients

  • can sway a person’s diet to one that is less balanced if the snacks are high calorie and low in nutrients

To maximize the benefits of snacking, several concepts and ideas can be applied to snacking.

Since snacking has become an essential part of many people’s diets, many countries have released “guidelines” on snacking. The problem is that these guidelines are very different among countries, some being extremely restrictive or vague. For example, the Australian guidelines recommend only “legumes, nuts, and seeds” as snacks. On the contrary, the Omani guidelines write to choose snacks “wisely.” The guidelines range on a spectrum from very vague to very specific, and it is challenging to understand what a good snack is. But one thing is certain: lessen snack foods, and increase nutrient-dense foods. A rule of thumb is that whole foods, such as fruits and nuts, provide the most nutrients and “better” snacks. Snack foods like chips and chocolate have a place in one’s diet and, contrary to popular belief, are a necessary part of a balanced diet. However, prioritizing nutrient-dense foods provides the body with better food.

Another strategy for balanced snacks is meal planning. Asking the questions of what, when, why, and how much makes for sustainable snack choices. However, meal planning and prepping may not be compatible with many people’s lifestyles. It can feel like a hassle or a burden, and it limits the variety and the chance to satisfy cravings. Therefore, using mindfulness strategies before eating helps.

Mindful eating is about being intentional about what you eat when you eat it. Some tips for mindful eating are eating slowly (to savor each bite and recognize fullness earlier,) using the five senses (savoring and observing the food in front of you,) and limiting distractions (such as social media.) While it may be hard to practice at first, keeping up this habit can increase appreciation for food and assist in weight loss goals.

At the end of the day, what adds to your relationship with food should be upheld and prioritized. If you find that your current diet does not uphold your goals and/or beliefs, try applying some of the strategies and ideas discussed above. Whether or not snacks are good for you depends on other factors in life. Snacks can add to your quality of life or hinder health in the way you treat it. Health doesn’t have to be painful, and nutrient-dense snacks like baked oats and yogurt bark can be just as creative, fun to eat, and tasty as their ultra-processed counterparts.

Writer: Isara Moriya




bottom of page