A nibble here, a nosh there. Americans love to snack! But all those little tidbits can add up to more than a few unwanted pounds if we're not careful. Over the past half century, the number of calories the average American consumes during snack attacks has been growing steadily along with our waistlines. According to research conducted by Richard Mattes, professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University, Americans now get 25% of their daily calories from snacks. Since the 1970s, Dr. Mattes research shows that the average Americans snack consumption has increased to about 580 calories per day, the equivalent of a full meal!
Pros and Cons of Snacking
Nutritionists say there's nothing wrong with snacking, as long as we choose healthy snacks and limit portion sizes. Snacks can even play a beneficial role in a healthy diet. Eating small, healthy snacks between meals can help stabilize blood pressure, curb your appetite between meals, and provide a needed boost of energy in the late afternoon. The problem is that most of us don't reach for a healthy snack when a snack attack strikes; we grab whatever is quick and handy, usually a sugary or greasy treat like a candy bar or bag of chips.
What You Can Do
The trick to healthy snacking is to limit daily snack intake to 100 to 200 calories. Keep your fridge and pantry stocked with wholesome snack options like baby carrots, hummus, pita chips, yogurt, string cheese, fresh fruit, and veggies. Purchase cookies and crackers in prepackaged 100-calorie servings. Satisfy your chocolate cravings with a few dark chocolate Hershey kisses. You can still snack; just snack smarter!
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