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"Meal" vs. "snack": the name matters
Conventional wisdom says that if you're working on your weight, you should avoid mindless eating: consume your meals sitting down at the table, not while watching TV or with other distractions.

More reason to switch your snacks to nuts
A team of researchers in New Zealand have shown that although the number of calories you eat in snacks are mostly offset by a reduction in the amount you at regular meals, choosing nuts instead of chocolate or potato chips means your diet improves overall.

Snack better, eat less later
Dr. Gourmet is not about weight loss. Our (my) goal is to get people eating better: getting back into the kitchen, making better choices at restaurants, and snacking sensibly.


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The step-by-step guide to a Mediterranean Diet

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Choose the right snacks

a variety of dried fruits and nuts in individual small bowls

Today's Health and Nutrition Bite is a cautionary tale on reading published research carefully.

A group of researchers in Poland surveyed 302 postmenopausal women to assess whether snacking between meals was associated with body weight (Nutrition 2021;83:111063).

The women completed a three day dietary recall, were weighed, and had their waist circumference measured. Snacking was initially defined as an eating occasion in which the women consumed less than 15% of their total daily calories, but the authors also considered the participants' definition of a snack as well as looking at the time of day of the eating occasion.

Tthose women of clinically normal body weight ate more frequently throughout the day than their overweight or obese sisters: the researchers conclude that "Higher eating and self-reported snacking frequencies... are associated with lower [Body Mass Index] values in [postmenopausal women]."

This obscures the more relevant findings - that 86% of women of clinically normal weight snacked on fresh vegetables and 68% on fresh fruits. Those women considered to be overweight or obese tended to snack on sweets (71%) or "processed salty and fatty snacks" (53%).

What this means for you

It's not how often you eat - it's what you eat. If you snack between meals, choose healthier options like fresh fruits or vegetables or a handful of nuts.

First posted: May 12, 2021