WHEN SOMEONE SAYS THEY FANCY A SNACK, WHAT SPRINGS TO MIND? A PACKET OF CRISPS? A SLICE OF TOAST? A PIECE OF FRUIT? OR A PORK PIE?
Snacking is an imprecise concept, and even within its vague definition it’s evolving to reflect changes in how we live and work. It’s probably fair to say that the definition of a snack used to be something you ate between meals to stave off the hunger pangs before your ‘proper’ meal.
Now, however there’s evidence to suggest that eating smaller meals more often is a more efficient way to digest food and burn fat. The theory being that if your body ‘knows’ it will be fed again in an hour or two, it will relax and burn off more calories. So instead of eating three large meals you might eat six smaller ones.
This theory only really works if those six small meals are nutritionally balanced. If three of your foodie top-ups consist of crisps, pork scratchings and a bar of chocolate that’s likely to cancel out the benefits of the three healthier choices. If however you snack on a handful of almonds, a banana and some crispbreads with cottage cheese, and you get plenty of exercise, then you’re on the healthy track.
So it would appear that the concept of a snack is evolving from being a treat — and probably a naughty one at that — to being a nutrient-rich extra small meal which you choose as part of regularly spaced meals throughout the day.
But the idea of snacking as a light, healthy meal can be turned on its head. In the developed world, junk food is available on demand, and obesity is one of our greatest challenges. For some, the snack has evolved in a different way — whereas a bacon sandwich might be considered as a light meal, some consumers see it as a mere snack, something you might eat between two more calorie-laden meals. And that isn’t good.
So snacking as a force for better health is more about what we eat rather than when we eat it. However we view the snack, foodservice is reflecting our changing eating habits with employee restaurants that stay open all day, offering options like grab and go, smaller meal deals and salad bars. The formal sit down meal may still happen during the evening, or it might not.
The world is changing and our food habits change with it. At Eurest, we make sure healthy delicious meals AND snacks are available for everyone that use our restaurants. As with so many things in life, it’s a matter of getting the balance right.