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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snacking Can Help You Keep a Healthy Weight

By Roy Benaroch, MD

Putting off that next meal or snack? That won’t help you lose weight. In fact, more frequent snacking may keep your waist trim and your body weight healthy.

That’s the conclusion of a study published in the January 2012 edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers looked at dietary records from 2372 girls, tracking how often they ate along with measures of their body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference over two years. They found that the girls who ate the least frequently—that is, the girls least likely to snack between meals—ended up with the largest gains in both BMI and waistlines. The infrequent eaters gained about eight extra pounds and one extra inch of waistline over the course of the study.

It makes sense. People who put off meals get crazy hungry. They’re more likely to wolf down the next meal, or grab anything they can get quickly without taking the time to prepare something healthy.

Trying to help your family slim down or prevent problems with excess weight gain? Keep this study in mind, and try these approaches:

  • Eat at least a little something every three hours.
  • Prepare healthy and tasty snacks. They should include at least a little bit of multiple food groups, like an apple with peanut butter or a few chips with avocado slices.
  • Keep in mind: the best snacks don’t have to come straight out of a foil pouch or cardboard box.
  • When you are feeling really hungry, take a few nibbles of something little to get past the screaming munchies. Then drink some water, look around the kitchen, and make yourself something made of real food that grandma would eat.

Frequent small meals—if they’re healthy—can help keep your weight in check better than skipping meals entirely. So wander into the kitchen now and then, and grab a bite!

Posted by: Roy Benaroch, MD, FAAP at 1:15 pm

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