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Are you a grazer? While some people stick to a strict 3 meals per day, most of us enjoy a little snack or two to help break up our busy day. And who are we to judge, we love a good snack! But there’s a few things we’d like to point out when it comes to choosing a good snack. In this post you’ll read about empty calories, the government 100 kcal initiative and what functional food can offer you i.e. smart snacks.
Calories: A measure of Health?
Although consumers are more educated and aware of what good food is, we still primarily focus on calories when it comes to reading labels, assessing health of a product or even trying to manage diet for weight loss/gain. But while calories are useful to some degree, they also miss out on the whole picture.
A calorie is a unit of energy. Energy is required for everything in the body. The source of all energy is the Sun and we get our energy from the food we choose to eat. But the idea that it’s as simple as calories in and calories out is flawed for the exact reason that we are not a machine. Our bodies are smart and regulate themselves (as much as they can) to accommodate for too much or too little food. This also means that relying on calories alone falls short. To answer why, let’s first look at empty calories and then at functional food.
What are empty calories:
You are not a machine so it’s equally silly to think that you can be fueled like one. The body is incredibly complex combining 10 different systems, hormones, neurotransmitters and much much more all working in sync 24 hours per day to keep you alive. When it comes to our food, the primary function is to provide us with energy in the form of carbohydrates and fats. But beyond that, there is an equally important role whereby food nourishes us with vitamins, minerals and micronutrients that help assist with chemical reactions and provide our body with building blocks to grow, repair, survive and ultimately thrive. Calories are only part of this equation.
Real food comes with both: caloric value and nutrient density. Empty calories on the other hand refers to processed, packaged goods that are rich in calories but void of much else. In fact, these products are also rich in ‘fake’ ingredients in the form of additives, preservatives and flavourings. All in all, the bad outweighs the good. Given that the snacks we find on the shelf today are a packaged good, this point is very important to take note of! Even healthy snacks can prove sneaky when you decipher what’s on the label!
Functional Food for Energy:
iRaw refers to whole plant based food as functional food. This essentially means food that is able to provide both nutrition and energy in a way that your body can easily process and utilise. Remember food isn’t just what you eat, it’s what you digest and assimilate into the cells to carry out various processes from repair to energy conversion. When you give your body what it needs, you make the rest of this work seamless. Not only this, but you fill two gaps in one go:
- Functional food provides calories and potential energy in the form of protein, carbs and fat
- Functional food provides nutrients which are co-factors in these chemical reactions that convert the above macro nutrients into energy and/or carry out repair/cell renewal. E.g. the B vitamins are required in the energy cycle.
What’s the problem?
Let’s tie it back to the original point and snacking. Thanks to modern farming and production, we have more access to food than ever thought imaginable. This in turn means we are also eating more food than ever before. In the book, the calorie myth, it was noted that the number of calories consumed per person per day on average has increased by 570 calories between 1977 and 2006! And a lot of this is to do with convenience food and sugar that is fuelling the vicious cycle of poor food habits we’ve developed over the years. In this fast paced world, we’ve lost the time to cook and prepare food like our grandparents. This in turn means more reliance on microwaves, take-aways and cheap thrills.
The problem is that our bodies can’t cope with processed food. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, how can your body know? As a brand, we are huge advocates of adding good food to your diet to crowd out the rest. We don’t believe in deprivation but rather try to educate customers on how to make food work for them! Since the majority is still most in tune with calories, we hope that this post has helped to at least open your eyes to looking for low calories functional snacks to fill your day.
Kid Friendly Smart Snacks: 100 kcal initiative
“Each year children are consuming almost 400 biscuits; more than 120 cakes, buns and pastries; around 100 portions of sweets; nearly 70 of both chocolate bars and ice creams; washed down with over 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink.” source
In an effort to cut back on sugar, the Change4Life campaign encourages parents to ‘look for 100-calorie snacks, two a day max’ to cut children’s sugar intake. Not only are we joining the movement, we think adults can benefit from this too!
Treating obesity costs the NHS £6.1 billion a year (source). The evidence shows overweight and obese boys consume anywhere between 140–500 calories too many each day, depending on their age. For overweight and obese girls it’s 160–290, while adults currently consume between 200–300 excess calories each day (source).
We want to be part of the drive to change that by:
- Showing you that real food doesn’t taste awful
- Educating you on food production
- Providing a full range of functional foods that are 100-200 kcals
- Following the sustainable business model so the planet benefits too.
Zero waste with smart snacks:
So get started on the zero waste path this week and stop wasting your calories on junk that gives you blood sugar imbalances and cravings. Reach for the real stuff instead.
Change doesn’t happen overnight so start slow – why not replace 2 snacks a week with real fruit/vegetables and another 2 with a plant powered energy rich treat. Check out our suggestions.