Skip to main content

Snacking: the new fourth meal?

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Call it a "snackwave" or "meals in flux," but we are eating between meals more than ever before, according to statistics from market research firms.

A Nielsen survey found that 91% of adults snack at least once a day. A quarter of those people say they snack 3-5 times a day, and women snack more than men.

We're also blurring the lines between "real" meals and snacks, according to Forbes. Snacks of choice often include foods previously reserved for dinner, such as mac and cheese.

More than a quarter of Americans (and more than 40 percent of 25-to-34-year-olds) said they snack on frozen entrées, according to a 2014 report from Mintel. Manufacturers have responded with frozen mac and cheese snack cups (Healthy Choice), flavored waffle bars (Kellogg), and smaller portions of microwaveable spaghetti and meatballs (ConAgra).

"The Nielsen survey polled 30,000 consumers in 60 countries, and found that the world’s favorite snack is — somewhat surprisingly — a piece of fruit," The Telegraph wrote. Not so surprisingly, that doesn't quite square with reality: chocolate is the most frequently eaten snack in the world.

So, what's the health impact of eating more than 25 percent of our calories from snacks?

The trend is most likely fueling our expanding waistlines. One of food author Michael Pollan's food rules is: “No snacks, no seconds, no sweets — except on days that begin with the letter S.”

If that's too hard to swallow, Dr. Mark Hyman, founder of The UltraWellness Center and the director of the new Center for Functional Medicine at Cleveland Clinic, offers tips on healthy snacking:

"When your blood sugar starts to drop, you are hard-wired to eat anything (and everything) in sight," he wrote on The Huffington Post. (Statistics back this up: according to the Nielsen report, the No. 1 reason for snacking is hunger.)

Hyman recommends packing a "food safety net," including foods high in good-quality protein and fats that are also low in sugar.

Some of his favorites (many of which can be stashed in a drawer or a purse):

Canned wild salmon or sardines
Jerky (bison, grass-fed beef or turkey or salmon)
Nuts and seeds
Coconut butter packets
Artichoke hearts
Roasted red peppers
Garbanzo beans with olive oil, lemon, garlic and salt
Hard-boiled eggs
Hummus
Cut-up carrots, cucumbers, peppers and celery
Apples
Dark chocolate

Next Up

line 3 enbridge portage lake hubbard county mn tony webster flickr

Months after missing deadline, Enbridge says Line 3 aquifer breach is fixed

The company told Bring Me The News it "successfully stopped the flow of groundwater" at the site.

canada bodies found

Baby, teenager among 4 found dead along MN, Canada border

Authorities believe all four froze to death.

unsplash roller rink skates CROP

Former roller rink, tennis courts will become new sports hub

The Wooddale Fun Zone has been closed since spring of 2020.

hibachi daruma

Popular hibachi food truck opens second Twin Cities restaurant

The much-anticipated Daruma opens for takeout Thursday evening.

20211128_Vikings_49ers_REG12_0144 (1)

What changes are coming to the Vikings' offensive line?

Once again, Minnesota has work to do to figure out its interior spots

Kris Ehresmann

One of Minnesota's key COVID-19 leaders is retiring

Kris Ehresmann has given more than 30 years of her life to public health in Minnesota.

summit beach park orono

Plan to develop Orono park on hold after Daytons object

The Dayton family donated the land to the city for the park in the 1970s.

covid nurse doctor hospital wikimedia commons

Child from Twin Cities, school staff member die from COVID

Both deaths were reported by the Minnesota Department of Health Thursday.

snow

3 clippers will deliver snow to Minnesota through Tuesday

Clippers move through Friday night, Saturday night and again Monday.

Screen Shot 2022-01-20 at 10.45.51 AM

Video: Inebriated Sheriff Dave Hutchinson after high-speed crash

Hutchinson was unaware of his location and repeatedly said he wasn't driving.

covid

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Thursday, January 20

A Mayo Clinic data scientists believes omicron may have already peaked in parts of Minnesota, though that reality won't show up in the reported cases until at least next week.

hospital, emergency room

2 dead, 1 critical after being found unconscious in garage

The men were believed to have been drinking together and possibly using drugs.

Related