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Why I have snacks, all the time!

Updated: Mar 6

Children, as we all know, love snacks. They are familiar, comforting, and often associated with positive experiences. When a child walks into an unfamiliar space and sees a bowl of their favourite snack, it immediately creates a sense of familiarity. This can help reduce anxiety and make the child more open to a chat.


Snacks also serve as an excellent icebreaker. Offering a snack to a child can initiate a non-threatening interaction, breaking down barriers and establishing trust. It's a simple gesture that can go a long way in building rapport and making the child feel more comfortable.


A Recipe for Happiness and Social Bonding


Recent research indicates that whether we eat with others can impact our happiness, social connections, and overall feeling of satisfaction in life. The study found that people who frequently eat socially are more likely to feel better about themselves and have a larger social network capable of providing emotional and social support.


Interestingly, it was found that the act of eating together led to feelings of closeness and bonding. The research suggested that the act of eating itself might trigger the endorphin system (a group of hormones that help relieve stress and pain) and promote bonding.


When this act is done, it leads to the feel good hormones being released, like you get when you exercise[KS1] . Offering snacks during therapy sessions creates a shared experience, promoting a sense of connection and trust, facilitating the therapeutic process.


Halting Hanger


Hanger is a state of anger or frustration resulting from being hungry. A recent study asked participants to report their feelings of hunger, anger, irritability, pleasure, and arousal five times daily, over a period of 21 days. The results? Greater self-reported hunger was consistently linked with heightened feelings of anger and irritability, as well as decreased pleasure. Changes in hunger levels from day to day and the average feeling of hunger over the past three weeks were shown to predict negative emotions.


The researchers explain “it may not take much for hungry individuals to experience anger and irritability.” This means that if a person's hunger levels vary greatly each day or if they generally feel hungry over a few weeks, they are more likely to experience negative feelings. It's yet another reason why snacks play a crucial role in our hub!


The Link Between Hunger and Emotions


Research which involved three studies investigating the link between feeling hungry and our emotions found fascinating results. It found that hunger doesn't intensify reactions in neutral or positive situations, but it does in negative ones. In other words, when people are hungry, they're more likely to have stronger negative emotional responses. Furthermore, the hungrier people are, the more they struggle to concentrate on tasks.


The findings suggest that the ability to label feelings helps to regulate them. For children struggling with emotional regulation, having snacks available can help stabilize their mood, creating a more conducive therapeutic environment.


Food Before Thought


Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs explains that basic physiological needs must be met before individuals can focus on higher-level needs. This hierarchy begins with the most fundamental needs at the base, including food, water, and warmth, and ascends to the fulfilment of your potential at the peak.


In the context of learning, if a child is hungry, their basic physiological need for sustenance is not being met, making it challenging for them to concentrate on the task ahead. Therefore, to create an optimal learning environment, it's crucial to ensure that children aren't hungry. This foundation allows for higher-level needs to be met, which is crucial for successful therapy outcomes.


Understanding the Importance of Safety in Learning Environments


If an individual is constantly worried about where their next meal will come from, their attention is consumed by this fundamental need, making it difficult for them to focus. Consequently, as we strive to enhance effectiveness of therapy in the hub, it is important to create an environment that is both physically and emotionally safe for everyone.


Final Thoughts


Having snacks in a psychologist's hub plays a key role beyond just satisfying hunger. They address fundamental human needs, create an optimal learning and therapeutic environment, and foster a sense of security and bonding.


When your child visits their psychologist, don't be surprised to see a snack bowl on the table. Remember it's not just about filling their tummy - it's about filling their mind with knowledge and comfort too.

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