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We're snacking more, so snack better.

We've become a snacking nation. We're consuming an average of 2.3 snacks per day. In fact, the idea of snacking has lost its stigma. What was once discouraged as a "spoiler of appetites" has now come to be considered a healthful habit.

However, snacks aren't always nutritious contributions to your diet. According to a 2015 survey on snacking behavior conducted by consumer research firm Sterling Rice Group, consumers are snacking more than ever, and for many reasons: a pick me up, reward, break during the day, replenishment, comfort, and simply mindless munching. And as the day goes on, the survey found that people's resolve for healthy snack choices wanes, with more healthful snacking in the morning (i.e., nuts and fruit) shifting to less healthful choices (i.e., ice cream and chips) in the evening.

As people turn to more frequent snacking, it's important to make food choices that provide essential nutrients in the diet, as well as to cut down on meal size to accommodate the energy these snacks provide. Focus on nutrient-rich options, balanced with a source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, such as a handful of nuts or seeds, hummus and vegetables, fruit slices with yogurt or cottage cheese, or whole grain bread with nut butter.

--Sharon Palmer, RDN, EN Editor

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Title Annotation:Ask the EN Experts
Author:Palmer, Sharon
Publication:Environmental Nutrition
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2016
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