Jul 11, 2014 11:30 AM

Author: Office of Public Affairs

We’ve become a nation of snackers.

More than half of Americans snack three or more times a day now, according to a new article in The Wall Street Journal

“Snacking used to be an occasional thing,” Laurie Demeritt, chief executive of the consumer tracking firm Hartman Group, told The Wall Street Journal. That’s not the case anymore: Her company found that nearly half of Americans skip meals three times a week or more.

Food companies cater to America’s penchant for snacking with processed foods that are high in salt and sugar, contain preservatives or are just too big to be legitimately called snacks, says Julie Metos, PhD, RD, an assistant professor and the interim chair of the Division of Nutrition at the University of Utah College of Health. “That really encourages people to eat more.” 

“Instead of snacks, think of mini-meals,” Metos advises. Rather than grabbing a granola bar or prepackaged convenience food, plan for your snack to include a small amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Eat a piece of fruit or some veggies as the carb component, she says.

Utah residents are ahead of the game when it comes to eating fruit and vegetables. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report says the percentage of state residents who said they ate less than a single serving of fruits or vegetables a day were lower than the national average.

Metos cautions, though, that it’s easy to let your discipline flag if you snack throughout the day. The Journal says people snack more on junk food at night.

“We always have those comfort foods at night,” Metos says. “What that tells me is, if you’re just picking at food all day long, that you’re going through the day not satiated,” and that sets you up for late-night bingeing on indulgent goodies.”

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