Why do you snack? What need does snacking fulfill for you? Are you actually hungry when you snack? If you're hungry, why not eat an actual meal, or just be hungry till your next planned mealtime?
Sometimes I am genuinely hungry, and sometimes I am most definitely filling a void that has nothing to do with an empty stomach.
I don't feel bad about it when I stick to snacks like nuts or a mini portion of "normal food." I don't think there's anything wrong with snacking when you're legitimately hungry, and you're eating good foods.
But when I'm filling that other void, it tends to go toward chocolate or other sweets or grains. I don't binge. I really can and do limit it to one or two pieces of whatever it is. But I even have the thought as I'm doing it: "I'm not hungry; I just want sugar." (Usually happens at work, when I'm aggravated over the nonsense that goes on here, and there are candy dishes on every other person's desk. I can get myself fired by saying something I shouldn't or I can have a tiny piece of something and calm down. Sometimes going for a walk down the hall helps, but sometimes I just go for the candy knowing darn well exactly what I'm doing.)
Ever since I've become more aware of it, it's even sadder, because I've realized it's more than wanting sweet/starchy. I've had this exact thought sometimes: "I don't want chocolate; I want a hug." (But when there's no one around to give me a hug, or for me to hug, well...sometimes the Hershey's kiss is where I go. A piss-poor substitute for actual human intimacy, but there it is.)
Your name indicates that you think snacking is universally bad. I believe that there are certain instances where it is perfectly justified:
Snacking seems to balance my mood when PMSing so that I don't say or do anything that could ruin a friendship or a relationship.
In early pregnancy, it keeps me from vomiting my other meals.
Later in pregnancy it keeps me from getting overly hungry and feeling too weak to prepare a healthy meal.
Near the end of pregnancy there isn't enough room for a whole meal, so snacking becomes a way of life for about a month.
During lactation it helps keep up milk supply and makes it possible to fall asleep at night because I get hungry after nursing the baby down for the night and will lie there hungry all night if I don't eat anything, but feel better falling asleep after a snack rather than a whole meal.
Happening upon a patch of perfectly ripe berries in the summer, I'm going to graze on them even if I'm not super hungry.
Going out to dinner or a party where there may or may not be food that works for me, or if it is restaurant with a notoriously long wait, a snack will blunt my hunger enough to let me make good decisions. Also if you live with a non-paleo/fat burner sweetie Feeding them a snack before waiting for an hour at a restaurant also seems to cut down on pre-dinner low blood sugar induced arguments or malaise.
I snack if I'm hungry in the afternoon and it's not time for a meal--usually nuts or jerky. I don't eat an actual meal because dinner is the one meal I get with my guy and I like having that time with him, but if I don't have a snack I'll binge at dinner.
I snack when I'm hungry and either on-the-go or at work, if it is far enough away from dinner to be too uncomfortable to wait until dinner, and when I'm bored. I have always been an emotional eater, but have managed to cut it way back since going paleo. I keep kale chips and kefir handy. I've also rediscovered my love of oranges.
Dinner is sacred in my home and I won't make a meal for myself when a mid-afternoon snack will calm my hunger pangs until everyone is together for dinner.
I snack because I am trying to bulk up. I still only snack when I'm hungry, and I make sure I snack on nutrient dense food. I've been doing this for a few months now and I'm seeing very effective strength and muscle gains. Before I bulked I would simply snack when I was a bit hungry and it had been a few hours after, but still a few hours before my next planned meal.
to answer my own question: I will occasionally snack after the kids get home from school, if I'm truly hungry
Most days I eat 2 substantial meals - a late breakfast (or early lunch) and then dinner with the family about 8-9 hours later. Now that the days are getting longer we tend to eat dinner later so if I'm hungry when the kids get home from school I'll have mini-meal, and I try not to nibble and graze, otherwise I'll just be hungry till dinner time. Eating together as a family is a high priority, and having the kids see us eating good foods sets a good example.
Occasionally I wake up hungry, so I'll have a small breakfast, then a late lunch, then nothing till dinner.
If there is not an ideal eating opportunity, or I get hungry away from home, I am learning to BE HUNGRY for a little while longer, rather than chase it away with jerky or carrot sticks - or worse, some kind of processed, fast food crap. Its not a bad thing to be hungry, and paleo hunger is not the same as CW Low Blood Sugar Crabby Pants Disorder. Mini-meals do make the hunger pangs go away, but they aren't satisfying.
I rarely snack nowadays! When I do, it is usually for social reasons - mainly, I've made something for my growing daughter and we share :) It tastes good and it is fun to eat together - good role modeling too as the snack is usually healthy!
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