Snack Foods-Their Times Are A-Changin’

My parents were like most in that they wouldn’t let me have a snack food until I finished what was on my main meal plate. Naturally it’s because I should fill up on the meal first, and if there was room left I could then indulge on some foods that weren’t exactly necessary to complete the meal. It seems, however, that there is a slow but steady shift in the way we think about snack foods during main meal occasions.

While I had to focus on my sandwich during lunchtime, for example, many children today are given their sandwiches as well as something else to snack on. Increasingly, we’re seeing foods such as fruit and yogurt making their way into the main meal as a snack item to have alongside the main item. Traditional snacking items such as salty snacks are either holding steady or even on a slight decline during main meals. This behavior isn’t unique to just children either as many adults are helping make this shift as well.

Like most people, I’m likely to snack between main meals, but I have noticed that from time to time I will supplement my meals with a little something extra. And while the vast majority of our snack meals happen between main meals, the movement toward consuming snack foods during main meals should not go unnoticed. This time frame for snack foods currently represents about 22 percent of snack food eatings, which is up from 20 percent in 2010. While two percentage points might sound small at first, consider that there are more than 300 million people in this country and this increase represents more than 3.6 billion additional eatings.

Maybe I am like most people in that I don’t just view snack foods as indulgent items, but I also like to use them to get certain nutrients in my body. I often snack on dairy items for lean calcium, nuts for protein, and fruits/vegetables for vitamins. To me they all taste great, so why not add them to my main meals so they taste a little better (for those of you concerned, I am human and will occasionally indulge on some chocolate for a late night snack – usually 80%+ cocoa, but it’s chocolate nonetheless)?!

So sorry mom and dad for breaking the rules on which you raised me, but as Bob Dylan said, “The times they are a-changin’!”

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