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Chocolate Cake

Our society has become addicted to different kinds of snacking. We snack on information, we snack on work, we snack on food.

Today I want to look at how snacking on food can be bad.

Why Snacking on Food is Good

I’m a proud snacker. I think that snacking on food is actually a good thing for these reasons:

  • It helps keep our energy levels up between meals
  • It helps keep our metabolism boosted so we burn more calories throughout the day
  • It helps us to avoid overeating at meals because we’ve  gone too long without food
Where Snacking on Food Becomes a Problem

We live in a world of convenience and immediate gratification. Snacking as described above can be a great thing for us but the problem is too many people make the wrong snack choices:

  • We consume too many calories when we snack
  • Our snack choices tend to be too high in saturated fat, too high in processed carbs and too high in sugars
  • Snacks too high in saturated fat result in sluggishness rather than giving us energy
  • Snacks too high in sugar result in rapid energy depletion after a brief buzz
  • Snacks too high in processed carbs get converted to sugar within our body and the inevitable sugar crash
  • We often skip meals and get most of our calories from snacks – resulting in our bodies not getting the fuel needed

The end result of a pattern of bad snacking habits is:

  • Weight gain
  • Potential for type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and other illnesses tied into bad nutritional habits
  • Lowering of productivity
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty maintaining regular sleeping patterns if snacking goes too late
The Real Issue with Poor Snacking Choices

Regardless of what you do for a living, if you are making poor food snacking choices, it will be very difficult to reach peaks of performance.

For entrepreneurs and solo-workers, it can be even more of a problem. We all have a limited number of hours in a day to get things done.  Poor snacking choices limit the number of hours we can be in a highly productive mode. It often can become a vicious cycle: you make a poor snack choice. The buzz wears off or you feel lethargic so once again you reach for another poor snack to get an energy boost.

I’ve had several exchanges with coaching and consulting clients who feel the number of hours they have each week “in the zone” of a high state of productivity is so small and of a concern for them. In each case, when I asked about their eating habits, all admitted to making poor snacking choices. (Skipping a proper breakfast and not exercising were also issues.)

I love chocolate. I have some chocolate most days. I noticed that I had developed a bad pattern: I’d have chocolate for my afternoon snack. Then within 60 to 90 minutes, I’d want a nap. I’ve been experimenting lately with moving my chocolate to my evening snack and have discovered on those days that I do this, I don’t need naps. My energy will be more constant.

What should we be doing?

Want to increase your productivity? Adjusting your food snacking habits is the easiest way to see an improvement. Here are some tips when it comes to food:

  • Start off the day with breakfast. If you work out in the mornings, you may choose to wait to eat until after you’ve exercised.
  • Try to not go longer than 2.5 to 4 hours during the day without either a meal or a snack.
  • Keep snacks between 100 to 200 calories for women, men can go a bit higher.
  • Snacks should be a balance of protein and unprocessed carbs. A little bit of unsaturated fat can help you feel full for longer.

Since moving towards this myself, I’ve seen considerable gains in productivity because my energy tends to be more constant. I’m also discovering that my weight is also more steady without counting calories or being as concerned with my food intake. I pretty much stay with the idea that I eat clean (i.e. unprocessed) 90% of the time, try to keep snacks higher quality. The rest seems to take care of itself.

I realize many people reading this will be thinking this is pretty obvious stuff. But I think this is definitely a case where we aren’t necessarily doing what we know is best.

What do you think about snacking?

Photograph by Mr+G

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