About a year ago, it was reported that the percentage of calories consumed as snacks by the average American has risen to 25% of total daily calories. Snack consumption, especially of sweetened beverages, continues to increase for men and women. The amount of food/beverages consumed as snacks has basically become a fourth meal! The additional calories contribute to the widening waist line of Americans and can lead to the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Snacking is not necessarily a bad thing. It may help you feel more energetic. The goal is to snack wisely and only when you are truly hungry. If your next meal is about 1 to 2 hours away, choose a snack that is about 50 to 100 calories.
Aim for snack foods that are nutritious, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Snacks with a higher fiber content (such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and a higher protein content (such as dairy products and nuts) are more satisfying. Sweetened beverages have neither of these attributes. Did you know that a standard 12 fl. oz. can of a regular soft drink has about 140 calories? See how quickly those sweetened beverage calories can blow your snack budget?
Here are a few examples of nutritious snacks and their caloric content:
Food Amount Calories
- Almonds, dry roasted 10 each: 80
- Mozzarella part skim cheese, 1 string 1 oz.: 72
- Whole wheat crackers, 4 each: 71
- Banana 1 small: 90
- Apple 1 medium: 72
- Vegetable juice, 1 cup: 53
- Air-popped popcorn, 3 cups: 90
- Assorted raw vegetables (such as broccoli and red bell pepper), 2 cups with fat free ranch dressing, 2 Tb.: 89
- Whole wheat English muffin 1/2, with light cream cheese, 2 Tb: 100
- Celery sticks, 5 each with peanut butter, 1 Tb.: 100
To access the reports about snacking patterns and beverage choices of Americans, see this website: http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=19476
For a colorful 100 calorie or less snack list, see this website:
by Rosemary S. Wold, MS, RD, LD