Contrary to conventional wisdom, the more consumers snack, the healthier their eating behaviors, according to The NPD Group, a leading market research company. NPD’s recently released snacking market research report finds that many Americans view snacking as a way to improve healthy eating habits. Consumers following the healthiest diets snack twice as often as those with less healthy diets.Consumers with the healthiest diets consume 36% more snack meals a year than the average consumer, according to Snacking in America, which examines long-term attitudes and behaviors about snacking as well as snack selection drivers. This compares to those with moderately healthy diets, who eat 1% fewer snack meals than the average consumer, and consumers with the least healthy diets, who consume 29% fewer snack meals than the average consumer. The report also finds those following a “most healthy” diet eat a wider variety of healthy snacks such as fruits, yogurt, and vegetables.
Index of Snacking by NPD’s Healthy Eating Index
Index of annual snack meals per capita
Source: The NPD Group/Nutrient Intake; 2 years ending Feb ’11
“We are no longer as averse to snacking as we used to be – instead, snacking may be viewed as one way to improve healthy eating habits,” says Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst.
Personally, I find that snacking on foods with protein keeps my hunger under control, and I love fat-free Greek yogurt as a protein pick-me-up. There are many ways to jazz up a cup by adding some fruit, jam, flax meal, or chopped nuts. Staying in the dairy section, fat-free cottage cheese is also great for its protein content and versatility. Pretty much any cheese will give you a good amount of protein, and there are many portion-controlled and light options out there.
Hard-boiled egg whites are another way to get some protein. Each large egg white has only about 17 calories and a whopping 3.5g protein. They're great with a little bit of mustard or just a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
The easiest snack route, of course, is to grab a bar with some protein or a pack of jerky. Look for bars with less than 200 calories, like Luna Protein and Nature Valley Protein. They're travel-friendly and great when hunger hits unexpectedly. As for jerky, it's definitely underrated and a favorite of mine -- low in calories and fat, and high in protein. And there are many different kinds, from turkey jerky to meatless ones.
Guest Blogger and Fitness Enthusiast