Snack Life: Junk Food Craving Sweet Tooth Nation

A new survey conducted by OnePoll suggests that the average American gives their sweet tooth a hall pass after a day of really good behavior, erroneously believing that being healthy during the day gives them permission to overindulge in unhealthy food at night as a reward.

Respondents reported overindulging on unhealthy foods 3 times per week. When cravings are amped up others just go with the flow, 41% report cravings occurring at mid-afternoon, and 19% typically reach for that treat after supper. 83% admit to eating at least two snacks a day aside from eating other meals.

Americans love to snack because it soothes their cravings as reported by 50% of the respondents, while 40% report they just love the tastes, 38% report that it’s the convenience, 37% say the variety is appealing, and 34% say they snack because they are always on the go. Additionally, 35% say that they can’t resist satisfying their sweet tooth, 30% give in to the salty craving, 56% prefer fresh fruit, 48% reach for cheese, and 45% opt for nuts when they feel peckish.

Americans like to munch constantly and are living the snack life, according to this survey. 83% admit that they are all about snacks and must have at least two a day. 69% prefer to snack throughout the day like grazing rather than eating a full hearty meal, but another 65% report feeling guilty for indulging on treats throughout the day.

While 79% agree that choosing nutritious snacks are better than not snacking at all, but 56% report that they struggle with consciously choosing healthier snacks. However, three in four say that they are actively trying to make more healthful choices by reading the nutritional facts labels and paying attention to product health claims when they are shopping for snackable items.

“While the data show that Americans struggle with finding healthy snacks that also taste good, taste and nutrition don’t have to be mutually exclusive,” says Matt Slem, culinary scientist and rice expert at Lundberg Family Farms, in a statement. “Choosing the right snack means you can see the benefits of healthy eating, such as maintaining your energy and blood sugar levels throughout the day, without having to sacrifice taste.”

62% feel that they always sacrifice taste over nutritional value when it comes to healthy snacks. To add flavor 39% report incorporating cheese or maple, and 35% report trying to enhance natural flavors by roasting citrus or adding salt.

34% report that they always have snacks on hand because they buy in bulk to avoid running out quickly. 36% admit to hiding their treats, including the healthy ones, by placing them on top of cabinets, and 34% take it a step further by having a secret stash in their closet. When it comes to sharing their horde of goodies 53% are happiest to share with their significant other, 48% with their children, and 38% will share their stash with friends.

“Snacking doesn’t have to be something you’re ashamed of,” Slem adds. “It’s not just feeding yourself or your family today — you can also start cultivating healthy habits for tomorrow. You can have your cake and eat it too by choosing snacks that nourish your taste buds and your body.”

Let’s be honest, snacking doesn’t have to be bad, and we all snack. We all get that craving, but as ling as you’re smart about it, it is not as bad as you think, especially if done in moderation and if you make healthy choices.

Munchies that crunch often hit the spot. These can include apples, pears, carrots, celery sticks, bell pepper slices, zucchini, cucumbers, roasted chickpeas, broccoli, cauliflower, nuts, seeds, rice cakes, whole grain crackers, and popcorn just to name a few yummy nom names.

When it comes to drinks ditch that high sugar spike and try some sparkling water, or something glamorous like plain water with fruit and herbs in it. There’s also unsweetened tea or coffee, 100% fruit juice, and low sodium tomato or mixed vegetable juice options as well.

If you are looking for satisfying snacks to help fill you up think about some low fat or fat-free cheese, maybe a fruit and veggie smoothie, or some whole-grain crackers with a can of tuna/salmon. Plain low fat or fat-free yogurt is another great option that can be made even better by throwing in some fresh fruit. An easy filler-up option with crunch could also be whole-grain toast with peanut or almond butter.

If that sweet tooth is really persistent you could try some baked apples, frozen bananas, grapes, raisins, dates, figs, or other unsweetened dried fruits. Fresh fruit salad is generally always satisfying. You could even indulge in a thin slice of angel food cake or homemade banana nut bread.

Healthy options do not have to be boring, there’s an abundance of healthy foods to choose from, and you only need to use your imagination to inspire your next munch. However, realistically you will probably still want to cheat on something less nutritious occasionally, when you do check out the nutrition labels and choose wisely by watching for added sugars, salts, and words you can barely pronounce. An even better idea is to try and make a healthier version of that packaged treat at home so that you can actually choose the ingredients that will be going into your body.

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