To snack or not to snack

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 10, 2012 at 4:14 PM

I've been Paleo going on 2 years. Very happy with it. However, I have noticed a predicament that I am having trouble dealing with. After going through the Leptin reset and reading a lot of Paleo blogs, I've become kinda dogmatic about not snacking. I try to eat three meals a day or less if I fast for one or two. However, there are times when for some reason or another, even after I eat a normal meal, I get ravishingly hungry. Now, I can sometimes go for a 36 hour fast and be fine, but for some reason, even a couple hours after a meal, there will be times that I will just be starving and I can't figure out why. Usually, it's because I haven't eaten as many calories or fat that meal, but I try to add variety to my life and not eat the same things all the time. For example, I don't get hungry after steak and eggs, but when I eat coconut curry chicken, I might have this issue.

I usually just wait and deal with it, but I have noticed that I can become really crabby if I am hungry and not eating. It happens on vacation too when I have to choose not to eat because of the food that I have to choose from and I'll end up fasting two meals when I really didn't want to. I just become super crabby and I just can't seem to help it. I make it miserable for everyone. Food becomes all I can think of and I just won't snack for fear of hurting myself. I want to snack, but I am worried that it will screw up my system.

So, I guess that's my question. Does the occasional snack really mess up your biological feeding clock or can it happen every once in a while? Is it like cheating on sugar (with a big insulin spike) or cheating on gluten (which stays in the system for weeks after? I figure that hunter gatherers would have snacked sometimes, but from what I read, it's really not a great idea and is tough on our bodies.

Thanks for your help!

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5 Answers



on April 10, 2012
at 04:22 PM

I think it's fine to snack when you're actually hungry. It's the snacking when you're not actually hungry that could cause problems, but if you're legitimately physically hungry, why kill yourself over a handful of nuts or an apple or something that works for you?

So many "diets" stress healthy snacking, which most of the Paleo world thinks is not a good idea, but I think it's more to the effect of expecting snacks on a constant basis is the unhealthy notion.


on April 10, 2012
at 04:38 PM

I follow Yoda's advice: "Eat or eat not. There is no snack."

...but I only eat when hungry.

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on April 10, 2012
at 04:27 PM

Yeah, just eat when you're hungry and don't think about the rest. Eating on a schedule of 3 meals a day is a modern thing anyways.


on April 10, 2012
at 04:52 PM

Hunger is a signal to your brain that it needs nutrients right? So if you're getting mega hunger signals you should really be listening. It is actually causing you stress to ignore the signals which could be causing you more harm than good if this is going on long term. So don't go crazy with the snacking but do start listening to your body. It's talking, or maybe screaming, at you.

If you're on vacation and being forced to skip meals then you should definately snack when you're able to. Vacation isn't about being hard core with your eating and depriving yourself, it's about refreshing yourself and resting your body. So don't stress yourself out. Eat when you are able to and do your best to destress. You're health will only improve. You and your family/friends will probably have more fun as well.


on April 10, 2012
at 08:37 PM

Eat when you're hungry and when there is good food around. Don't think of it as snacking think of it as just another meal. Maybe sine days you have 2 meals and maybe on others you need 5. If your body is healthy and able to recognize when it's properly hungry then you definitely need to be listening to it.

In regards to vacation and eating right that's a totally different thing. Not eating may make you a bit grumpy but what will eating the crap do to you? When you're out and about you must have to plan a bit more. Take fruit and or nuts along with you. When you do get hungry it's not snacking it's just a meal.

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