We all snack too much but there’s an easy way to avoid overindulging on extra calories

For snackaholics, cutting out excessive noshing between meals doesn’t seem like a cakewalk.

A recent study found that American adults eat up to that amount of calories per day in snacks alone, which don’t offer much nutritional value.

Study author Christopher Taylor, a professor of medical dietetics at Ohio State University’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, recommends introducing “healthier snacking patterns” to avoid excess 500 calories or more than the average person.

“We’ve gotten to the point of demonizing individual foods, but we have to look at the whole picture,” Taylor said in a statement. “Removing added sugars doesn’t automatically improve vitamin C, vitamin D, phosphorus and iron. And if we take refined grains, we lose the nutrients that come with fortification.”

In other words: “substitution becomes as important as deletion.”

Some experts say there’s a secret weapon to make quitting junk food cold turkey a piece of cake: Fiber.

High-fiber foods can prevent excessive chewing between meals. Getty Images

In addition to regulating blood sugar and its detoxifying properties, functional medicine clinical nutritionist Dr. Pooja Mahtani at PopSugar it “also aids digestion by promoting regularity and preventing constipation, and it also helps you feel fuller.”

Instead of reaching for oily potato chips, a bag of candy or other pantry junk, experts say artichokes, chia seeds, blueberries, mixed nuts, whole wheat crackers, chickpeas, popcorn and snacks made with avocado, like guacamole or truffles, are all. high-fiber alternatives.

Recent studies, however, have found that Americans tend to eat foods with little nutritional value that are high in sugars, fats or carbohydrates, while fruits and vegetables only comprise about 5 % of calories consumed in snack.

Ohio State University researchers found that American adults consume up to 500 calories in snacks a day. Getty Images

And, as the holiday season approaches with delicious Christmas cookies, fruit cakes, pecan pies, oh my, it’s so important to plan ahead to meet nutritional needs.

We think about what to pack for lunch and cook for dinner. But we don’t plan that for our snacks. So you’re at the mercy of what’s available in your environment,” says Taylor.

For the study, published last week in the journal PLOS Global Public Health, researchers looked at data from more than 23,000 Americans over age 30 who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, collected by 24 time of dietary data that revealed what was eaten and when.

The participants were then divided into four groups: non-diabetes, pre-diabetes, controlled diabetes and poorly controlled diabetes.

While just one day’s worth of food consumption doesn’t indicate the way people typically eat, it can provide a “really good snapshot of a large number of people” and help experts determine “nutritional gaps” or the need for additional nutrition education to prevent chronic disease.

In all four categories, snacks accounted for only about 19% to 22% of total calories per day, but offered limited nutritional value.

The team found that those in control of type 2 diabetes ate less sugary junk food and snacked more often between meals than those without diabetes or who were considered pre-diabetic.

Sweet, fatty and loaded with carbs, this fan-favorite junk food provides little nutritional value but packs in calories. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Snacks add nutritional value to what we eat without actually being food, Taylor says.

“You know what dinner is going to be: a protein, a side dish or two. But if you eat the food you eat for a snack, it will be a completely different scenario of, in general, carbohydrates, sugar, not so much protein, not much fruit, not a vegetable.

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