The lines between snacks and meals is definitely blurred. To help bring some clarity, I called up Jaime Schehr, NP, RD, a nationally recognized expert in integrative medicine and nutrition. Simply put, she explains that a meal is meant to fill someone up longer than a snack. "A meal is meant to fill someone up for at least three hours and is going to have the macronutrients we need, which unless you are doing keto [or another very specific eating plan], that includes protein, carbohydrates, and fiber," Dr. Schehr explains, adding that this primarily looks like something veggie-based paired with a protein.
"What I tell my clients is that if you have breakfast at 8 a.m., your meal should be comprehensive enough so that it fills you up until at least 11 a.m.," Dr. Schehr says. If not, it likely isn't hitting those macronutrient buckets she details. This doesn't mean snacks don't serve a purpose; they definitely do. But Dr. Schehr drops a major truth bomb when talking about snacks: they're not meant to fill you up. "A snack is meant to help [bridge the gap] from being a little bit hungry so you don't feel uncomfortable waiting until your next meal, which might be a couple hours away," Dr. Schehr says.
Simply put, snacks don't hit all the macronutrient requirements the way a meal does. "A snack may be a handful of nuts or popcorn, but if your snack is a piece of grilled chicken, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, well, that's a meal," she says.
So apparently woman can't live on snacks alone. No matter how much they start crowding grocery stores, they'll always play backup to what we really all need: legit, rounded out meals.
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