When we were growing up (in the Stone Age), we were taught - or at least I was - that "snacking" meant "gaining weight." I was taught to eat three solid meals a day, avoid snacks, drink water rather than soda to fill me up, and exercise more.

Not all of these are bad suggestions - drinking water is great for you, especially when compared to soda, and the whole "exercise more, eat less" motto should practically be engraved on any dieter's arm.

But it turns out that my mother, bless her heart, was wrong: snacking IS good for you.

Here are some of the shocking benefits of snacking throughout the day - every day.

1) Snacking can prevent you from overeating when it comes to mealtime.

2) Intense hunger can cause you to choose the less healthy alternative while deciding what to eat. Think cheeseburger and fries versus a salad and grilled chicken.

3) Snacking keeps your metabolism constantly running, which means that your body can continue functioning properly and burning calories the proper way.

4) Small frequent meals, rather than the three square meals a day, mean that your blood sugar remains steady. Normal blood sugar levels can help with mood and energy levels.

5) Snacks are fuel, so opt for healthier snacks - fruits, veggies, and nuts, for example - to keep your body running smoothly. Less healthy snacks can make you feel great, until the sugar rush is gone, leaving you cranky and unhappy.

6) Snacking can banish the food coma - or exhaustion - that often occurs after a calorie-laden meal.

7) Protein-rich snacks can give your brain a boost, making you feel more alert and able to concentrate.

8) Snacking will give you energy, which means it's easier to be more physically active.

9) Snacking makes you feel more full on less food, which can help with weight loss.

10) Snacking can improve your diet, allowing you to get more nutrients like iron, folate, calcium, and others throughout the day.

Do you snack? Do you find it helps you?


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