Snacking whilst at work or between meals at a weekend is easy. The majority of workplaces have vending machines fully stocked with crisps, sweets or biscuits and even if you believe everything in your cupboard at home is healthy, you may be surprised when you look at the actual content of what you are eating.
Obesity is a rising problem in our culture where snack foods are readily available, desk jobs are likely and there is a lot of temptation; how often have you been watching TV and seen junk food adverts making you want a chocolate bar or a bag of sweets? These things combined make it easy to forget our diets, some people just may simply not have enough time to go to the gym or do a proper food shop and think seriously about what they are actually putting in their baskets as they rush around the supermarket.
The reality behind our everyday snacks
When rushing around the supermarket it is easy to think that biscuits are a healthier choice than chocolate bars, that fruit is a better option than crisps and that if you just pick up some of those biscuits with a little chocolate on them for the kids, they’ll be better for them than most other things. However a recent study found that some biscuits on sale from leading supermarkets actually have more salt in them per biscuit than a fish finger or a chicken nugget.
Too much salt can cause problems with obesity and high blood pressure. The recommended daily allowance for salt is 6g, reducing to 3g for under threes, and some of the worst culprits could use up to a sixth of that allowance with just two biscuits. When you factor in the salt in our everyday food and main meals, it suddenly becomes apparent that you can quickly go over that recommended allowance through snacking.
In addition to biscuits, there are high salt and sugar contents associated with dried fruit, particularly those advertised as ‘perfect for lunch boxes’. These products usually have additives to allow them to keep for longer, are low in fibre and often stick to teeth, causing teeth decay.
Making healthier choices
The best way to combat snacking is to eat healthy, larger meals at fixed times. If this isn’t possible due to work or home commitments then making better snack choices will help a lot. Fresh fruit does contain sugars which, when eaten in excess, can be bad for you, however the sugars are natural and can easily be combatted through regular exercise. Vegetables such as carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes are water based which will help your water intake and provide you with a lot of nutrients.
Natural yoghurts and milk products are much better for you than flavoured options and making your own snacks will always be better than buying the products in. If you haven’t the time to make your own then opt for products which state ‘no added sugar’ as they contain less additives and put less pressure on your body to fight off the extra sugar intake.
Also take the time to drink more water, trying to get to the recommended eight glasses a day will work wonders for your body and often people can mistake the feeling of hunger with thirst, eating when they actually need to drink. In addition to this try getting away from the snack areas, and take a walk round the office or through the house instead, snacking can be caused through boredom so if you change locations and find other things to concentrate on its likely you will forget about those tempting treats.
With a quarter of the UK population now classed as obese, the time is here to change our views on what we eat, when we eat and our perception on what a suitable weight can be. Recent research has shown us that children are unaware of where their food comes from and what different foods are even made of, with some believing that pasta is made from meat. If this carries on and children fail to be educated about food, then it is likely that obesity will become more and more of an issue; we need to learn to check what is in our food before we buy it and to make the better food choice options.
by Jessica Ward
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