Snacking has become a popular habit among children and teenagers At the same time, overweight and obesity have reached huge proportions, affecting young individuals. Snacking has been considered one of the main contributors to overweight because of the increased consumption of energy-dense, high-sugar, high-fat foods.
Snacking is promoted by food ads to children and adolescents and one look at our supermarket foods completes the picture. When I taught nutrition courses at the college level, most of my students would come to class with their favorite bag of snacks in hand. Ironically, the class objectives were hopefully to learn about healthy diets. It was hard to compete against the influences of the “big food” industry ubiquitous in our food environment.
No wonder we have an obesity problem. Don’t count on the latest Dietary Guidelines 2020 for help. Enough said?
Ultra-processed foods are often thought as the nemesis of healthy eating. However, they are so ubiquitous in our food supply, it is so difficult to avoid them in the supermarket (they are displayed for our convenience and capture our cravings for sugar, salt, and fat as well.) The problem: If we tried to avoid all processed foods, there would be few choices in the supermarket. The best way for starters is to try to cut down on snack foods — they are highly processed and offer few nutrients.
Many of you are now working at home for the first time. It becomes very easy to realize that when that happens, food is not that far away and I am sure that avoiding snacking and even binge-eating is not that easy. One sign, is that bag of chips always open and at your desk? Before you buy that Peleton or tape the doors to the kitchen cabinets shut, try to exercise a little scheduling and practice the art of mindful eating.