Do you snack more than you eat meals?
We like to snack. No doubt about it. Americans crave and indulge in snacks daily. In fact, we unknowingly make more than two hundred food-related decisions each day – and snacking has been found to play a substantial portion.
A recently published study revealed snacks contribute considerably to dietary intakes of adults in the U.S. Researchers analyzed data from more than 23,000 adults who participated in a survey and were asked to recall what and when they ate during a 24-hour period.
The results showed snacks account for about 20% or more of an adult’s daily food intake, contributing a meal’s worth of calories. Analysis also indicated snacks contributed very little nutritional value to the overall diet.
“Unlike our meals, we often don’t give much thought to what we snack on,” says Clayton Keene, a nurse practitioner at Aurora Health Care. “Usually, the snacks we eat are easy and convenient, which can mean foods that are processed and high in fat, sugar and calories.”
But there’s good news, Keene says. Snacking can be healthy – if you plan ahead and make healthier choices.
6 tips for healthier snacking, according to Keene:
- Plan ahead, make a grocery list and buy healthier snacks. If you don’t bring junk food into your house, it won’t be there to tempt you.
- Make your own granola bars and energy bites. This allows you to control the amount of sugar and add healthy ingredients, like flaxseed and unsweetened craisins.
- Watch your portions and aim for about 150-250 calories per snack. It should satisfy but not add too many calories or interfere with your regular meals.
- For packaged snacks, always check the nutrition label. The number of calories, sugar and fat can be surprising.
- Try to avoid snacking while watching TV, scrolling through social media or doing other things. Stop and savor the snack.
- Carry healthy snacks when you’re out and about. Having something handy that’s healthier when you get a craving or become hungry is better than impulsively buying something on the go that can be less-than-good for you.
Simple, (nearly) guiltless snack ideas
- Berries, apple, banana or other fresh fruit
- Craisins, raisins or other unsweetened dried fruit
- Smoothie made with fresh fruit and greens
- Low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt
- Cheese, canned tuna or salmon with whole-grain crackers
- Whole grain toast with avocado or peanut butter
- Hummus with baby carrots and celery sticks
- Cut up bell pepper, cucumber, cauliflower or other fresh veggies
- Unsalted nuts and seeds
- Popcorn that is air-popped or made with vegetable oil
- Plain or sparkling water with lemon, cucumber slices, mint or other herbs added
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy milk, plain soy milk, or unsweetened oat or nut milk
- Unsweetened tea or coffee sprinkled with cinnamon, nutmeg or other spices
Take a free online quiz to learn more about your healthy weight range.
About the Author
Mary Arens, health enews contributor, is a senior content specialist at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has 20+ years of experience in communications plus a degree in microbiology. Outside of work, Mary makes healthy happen with hiking, yoga, gardening and walks with her dog, Chester.