Anyone who has spent time in an office will attest to the often irresistible temptation to snack. Hunger, sleepiness and boredom are all perfectly legitimate reasons for sneaking a hand into the cookie jar. Despite how justified a foodie treat may feel, daily bombardments over the dangers of overly sweet and fatty snacks inevitably lead many people to feel guilty about their eating habits.
However, a new report from Insider magazine suggests that weight troubles may not be down exclusively to snacking. In an attempt to put some of the world's snackphobia to the test, an intrepid reporter decided to go a week without eating outside of traditional mealtimes and recorded the experience. Expecting to feel fresh, focused and free from the energy peaks and troughs typically associated with sugary morsels, the results came as something of a surprise.
Recording her findings in diary form, the reporter concluded that by not supplementing her diet throughout the day, she had become compelled to overindulge during meals, in what turned into a week of boom-and-bust eating. Despite attempting to stave off hunger by drinking sparkling water, the larger portions eaten during dinner ultimately caused her to gain weight during her "healthy eating plan".
To start her experiment in the right direction, the reporter began Monday by breakfasting on a paltry portion of fruit and yogurt. More yogurt and fruit (with a side of pitta chips) did little to satisfy her at lunch, and the result was a carb overload at dinner as she attempted to fill the hole that had been gnawing at her all day. A repeat of these tactics on day two yielded similarly disappointing results.
As the experiment neared its zenith, the reporter realised that a diet high in fat was the only way to protect against distracting daily cravings. Foods like avocados, donuts and potato wedges were all that offered respite from the dull, distracting ache of hunger that had become an ever-present thorn in her side. While these foods may have helped, clearly they are not conducive to weight loss.
At the end of the week, so beleaguered was the reporter that all sense of health and dietary responsibility had disappeared out the window. The final meal of large mac and cheese burger, with a side of sweet potato fries underlined the point that for this reporter at least, neglecting hunger throughout the day increased the incentive to splurge wherever possible. This stands as evidence that snacking alone may not be to blame for poor health.
It's important to note that Insider's experiment is in no way scientific. The reporter's experience is clearly specific to that particular individual, and there may be many readers who consider themselves to be significantly less snack-dependent. Nevertheless, the account does make an important point about understanding what may be best for your body.
If you thrive and perform when snacking, then you shouldn't feel you have to stop because of an anti-snack narrative. Similarly, you shouldn't indulge when you don't feel that there is any need. Understanding what works for you and sticking to it is, ultimately, the easiest way to stay healthy.