A Nation of Snacking: Snacks Slowly Replacing Meals in America

By: Cyndi Amaya

A recent survey by Snack Factory's Pretzel Crisps brand reveals that almost half of Americans, roughly 40 percent, would prefer to indulge in snack foods throughout the day instead of eating the traditional and recommended three square meals. Even more shockingly, a large percentage of those same surveyed replace meals for snack food instead, like lunch and dinner, 78 percent and 55 percent respectively. These statistics point to the reality of snack foods (in most cases, unhealthy snack foods) emerging as a staple of the American diet.

The same study reveals that 63 percent of Americans let their taste buds rule their choice of snack foods by preferring those that are tasty as opposed to healthy. So if more and more Americans are relying on snack food for their daily intake and most of those choices are unhealthy, will the healthy home-cooked meal soon disappear in America?

While the study revealed that most snackers do take nutritional values into consideration (86 percent) by looking at calories, fat, and carbohydrates; the facts still show that the majority tend to reach for salty and sweet snacks that can quickly satisfy cravings.

To quell some debate about the health benefits of snacking, snacks are proven to actually help your waistline, but only when the right ones are chosen. For those trying to lose weight, many doctors and nutritionists do suggest small snacks throughout the day in between meals to help keep the metabolism revved up. But never the case of skipping meals all together for snacks as the above study suggests that Americans are doing. With that in mind, it may be tricky for people to distinguish what a good healthy snack is as compared to the damaging kind.

So here's a quick list of healthy sweet and salty snacks (with calories included) that not only can help you lose weight, but also provide you with the nutrition and energy you need to get you going through the day.

Sweet Treats:

8 oz plain yogurt (110 calories, 0 g fat) 3/4 cup warm apple sauce (165 calories) One 100-calorie Balance Bar (100 calories) 2 Raspberry Newtons (100 calories) 10 frozen grapes (20 calories)

Savory Snacks:

23 almonds (162 calories) 1 oz buffalo mozzarella, 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes (94 calories) 1 cup unshelled edamame (120 calories) 2 pieces (30 grams) prosciutto, 4 dried figs (154 calories) 1/4 cup hummus, 3 carrot sticks (80 calories)

For more healthy snack ideas, check out Self.com's 50 healthiest snacks.

How many times do you snack during the day?

Photo: Old Shoe Woman

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