A case against snacking for 100 calories

A snack that’s one hundred calories? Many of us would react by saying, yes, give it to me! Food companies are well aware of this reaction, and have done a great job providing us with products that meet this strict criterion. What we have forgotten is that a food is more than just its calories. As astutely pointed out by the Chattanooga Times Free Press last week, “while 100 calories falls well under [the threshold for calories from snacking], crackers, cookies and chips have low nutritional density, which doesn’t improve by coming in a smaller pouch.” Instead of noticing the lack of nutritional density, we (curiously) apply a health halo to 100-calorie packs, inadvertently creating “the problem…that people don’t always stop at [eating] one.”

The majority of single serving snacks on the market today have the unintended effect of promoting foods that are not nutritionally dense. Additionally, they undermine our ability to recognize portion sizes on our own (in the same way GPS has eliminated the need to know directions). These two consequences have long-term impacts on the way we snack and the way we perceive our food. Simplified snacking trains us to be disconnected to our food.

Informed snacking does not have to be time-intensive. It just needs to be done with some better shortcuts: (from top left) baby carrotsalmondszucchini stickstrail mixpeachesGreek yogurt w/ honeyapplesmini-cheese squares, and hummus.

About Sheila Viswanathan

Sheila Viswanathan focuses on educating individuals on how to make healthier dietary choices. She received her doctoral degree in Nutrition and Public Health from Teachers College, Columbia University and is certified as a registered dietitian.
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