by Hannah Kirby
Mindless snacking is generally known as an eating habit that can cause weight gain. We are likely to snack not when we are hungry but when we are emotionally stressed or bored (1). If intuitive eating characteristics are followed when snacking, it can actually be beneficial and not cause unwanted weight gain.
The United States is known for its high snacking trends amongst the general population. This has caused an increase in calories per capita from snack-related foods.
The snacks found in the United States are also known to have some of the highest energy density, saturated fat, and sugar contents (2). Using this information, it is important to account for our snacks’ nutritional value when planning our daily meals.
Adults and teens who are less active should have snacks be roughly 200 calories, while more active persons can have between 200-300 calories per serving of snack. It is crucial to adjust for this intake within your meal calorie amounts to limit the patterns of consuming an excess of 200-300 calories per day (1). A 200 calorie snack could be a small apple with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, while a 300 calorie snack could include approximately 14 almonds in this assortment.
Tips for Snacking Intuitively
Planning snacks ahead of time for the week is a great way to ensure those quick snack choices like a bag of chips or cookies are not frequent enjoyments. For example, prepare your own trail mix with almonds or peanuts and divide it into one-quarter cup servings. The fiber in the almonds and peanuts will provide a feeling of fullness and the pre-portioned servings will prevent overindulgence (1,3).
Similarly, adding variety to your snacks such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat cheeses can increase satisfaction and curb hunger (1). Curbing hunger is important because it reduces the risk of overeating at a meal (3).
Introducing diversity to your snacks can also help meet the daily requirements for each food group and provide essential vitamins and minerals that could be missed during meals (2).
Chocolate Raspberry Trail Mix (4)
yields 6 cups, 24 servings
- 3 cups plain popcorn
- 1 cup raw pecans
- ½ cup raw almonds
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips
- 1 cup freeze-dried raspberries
- Combine ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir everything together well.
- Store in glass jars or Tupperware, and portion out snacks as desired.
- Smart Snacking for Adults and Teens – Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Eat Right. Published 2017. Accessed February 17, 2021.
- Marangoni F, et al. Snacking in nutrition and health, International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition 2019; 70(8): 909-923, DOI: 10.1080/09637486.2019.1595543
- Spritzler F. Is Snacking Good or Bad For You? Healthline. Published June 19, 2019. Accessed February 17, 2021.
- Walder AC. Healthy Homemade Trail Mix: Three Recipes. Walder Wellness. Published November 11, 2020. Accessed February 17, 2021.