Is it possible to eat 2 or 3 meals per day without snacking? Yes! First, let’s look at why we snack.
Boredom, distracted eating, indulgence, food insecurity, socializing, hunger.
Consider that $14 billion is spent yearly by the food and beverage industry trying to convince you to eat more food. And these billions are not spent advertising grass-fed beef, wild Alaskan salmon, and the value of local vegetables. No, they are spent on fast food, sugary drinks, sugar-free drinks, candy, crackers, and you just can’t eat one potato chips – all calorie-dense and nutrient-devoid foods.
Tack on the fact that most people have no life margin within their day and live under a burden of stress, the ability to withstand this carefully crafted onslaught can seem impossible.
Emotional eaters (i.e. eating according to your feelings in the moment) consistently eat more calorie-dense nutritional deplete snacks.
In fact, 40% of Americans say they regularly skip lunch in favor of snack foods.
Snacking and weight gain
Childhood obesity is escalating at a feverish pace and guess what the average kid in America consumes more than 30% of their daily calories via snacks.
These kids are noted to have high intakes of carbohydrates, sodium, and calories.
Fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, olives, full-fat dairy, were not a part of the majority of children’s snack fest.
Hyperpalatable ultra processed snacks are strongly associated with fat gain, ADHD, depression, eczema, asthma, dental disease and diabetes later on in life.
When I was in medical school students would bring food into class non-stop and they were always offering to share, so I made a commitment to myself that I was going to say no thank you to any foods brought in from outside sources and I would only consume the food I actually brought to school.
Do you need 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day?
Do your children need this?
The short answer is no. There is no research suggesting we need to consume snacks to maintain or accumulate health.
The 8 to 5 job schedules in the industrialized world are what brought on the idea that we needed to eat 2 or 3 meals per day. Toss in the abundance of food and food options available to us and we are now eating feverishly all day long.
The Standard American way of snacking on pretzels, crackers, chips, granola bars, bagels, protein bars, dried fruit makes health accumulation and body composition optimization impossible.
Eating late-night snacks consistently leads to insulin resistance, which will put you into a cycle of perpetual hunger. Making snacking seem even more necessary.
Snacking increases the likelihood of elevated inflammatory proteins and this excessive caloric intake promotes undesirable weight gain especially if those snacks include vegetable oils. Check out this post to see why you want to stay away from inflammatory oils.
Eat real unprocessed food
If you eat a piece of fruit, vegetables, a few nuts or seeds, or meat, you are unlikely to have any negative long-term consequences especially if you are doing so consciously.
But consider that the snacking industry in the USA exceeds $68 billion in annual sales. The average American eats chips or popcorn every day of the week. If you don’t want the disease and dysfunction the rest of your fellow Americans have then you are going to want to live differently than them.
A great place to start is by swapping your current snacks for real unprocessed food and then looking to decrease the number of snacks you have throughout the week.
If you are snacking on the blueberries in your backyard carry on but if your snack items come wrapped in pretty paper with lots of “healthy” promises on them, then I would strongly consider the health trajectory of your snacking routine.
Considering your snack routine and adjusting if necessary, is a cause worth taking up.