We all snack too much, but there’s an easy way to stop consuming extra calories

For snack addicts, getting rid of extra grub between meals seems like a piece of cake.

A recent study found that American adults eat up to a meal’s worth of calories per day just from snacks, which don’t provide much nutritional value.

Study author Christopher Taylor, a professor of medical dietetics at Ohio State University’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, recommended adopting “healthier snack patterns” to avoid the roughly 500 extra calories the average person consumes.

“We’ve come to demonize individual foods, but we need to look at the big picture,” Taylor said in a statement. “Eliminating added sugars does not automatically improve vitamin C, vitamin D, phosphorus and iron. And if we take out refined grains, we lose the nutrients that come with fortification.”

In short: “replacement becomes as important as removal.”

Some experts say there’s a secret weapon that makes it easy to quit junk food cold turkey: fiber.

Foods rich in fiber can curb overeating between meals. Getty Images

In addition to regulating blood sugar and its detoxifying properties, functional medicine clinical nutritionist Dr. Pooja Mahtani told PopSugar that it “also aids digestion by promoting regularity and preventing constipation, and helps you feel fuller for longer.”

Instead of reaching for oily potato chips, bags of candy, or other pantry junk, experts say artichokes, chia seeds, blueberries, mixed nuts, whole grain crackers, chickpeas, popcorn, and avocado-based snacks like guacamole or truffles are all. fiber-rich options.

However, a recent study found that Americans tend to eat low-nutrition foods that are high in sugars, fats, or carbohydrates, while fruits and vegetables only made up about 5% of snack calories.

Researchers at Ohio State University found that American adults consume up to 500 calories in snacks per day. Getty Images

And as the holiday season ramps up with delicious desserts like Christmas cookies, fruitcake, pecan pie, it’s important to plan ahead to meet nutritional needs.

Let’s think about what to pack for lunch and cook for dinner. But we don’t plan that for our snacks. So then you’re at the mercy of what’s available in your environment,” Taylor said.

In a study published last week in the journal PLOS Global Public Health, researchers looked at data from more than 23,000 Americans over the age of 30 who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which collected 24-hour dietary data that revealed what was eaten and when.

The participants were then divided into four groups: non-diabetic, pre-diabetic, controlled diabetes and poorly controlled diabetes.

Although just one day’s food consumption doesn’t show how people usually eat, it can provide a “really good picture of a large number of people” and help experts identify “nutritional deficiencies” or the need for a supplemental diet. prevent chronic diseases.

In all four categories, snacks accounted for approximately 19–22 percent of the day’s total calories, but their nutritional value was limited.

The research team found that those with type 2 diabetes under control ate less sugary junk food and snacked less frequently than those without diabetes or those considered to be pre-diabetic.

Sugary, fatty and loaded with carbs, the fan favorite junk food offers little nutritional value but packs a lot of calories. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Snacks add meal intake to what we eat without it being a meal, Taylor said.

“You know what dinner will be: a protein, a side dish or two. But if you’re eating what you’re snacking on, it becomes a completely different scenario, which is usually carbs, sugars, little protein, little fruit, no vegetables.”

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