Convenience foods and snacking go hand in hand. Unfortunately, many of these convenient snacks also go straight to our waistlines. When "snack packs" appeared on the market just a few years ago, dieters rejoiced! Now, they could easily count calories and enjoy their favorite snacks at the same time. In fact, the 100-calorie snack packs proved to be so popular that sales have skyrocketed to almost $200 million in under three years. But how healthy are these snacks and should we even be eating them at all? Do good things really come in small packages? Let's break down the snack pack facts.|
Automatic Portion Control
Some dietitians and behavior experts believe these small 100-calorie packages are ideal for foods that we should only enjoy in limited amounts anyway, such as chips, cookies and chocolate bars. Numerous studies have shown that when a food container is larger, people will eat more. In fact, they're more likely to eat until they reach the bottom of a box or bag, without even realizing how much they’ve eaten until all the food is gone. Therefore, smaller portions sizes will help you eat less, right? Well, new research published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that smaller "snack" packages encouraged participants to eat nearly twice as much, often without hesitation, than people who ate from larger packages. The built-in portion control of snack packages may help some people curb mindless overeating, but this theory works only when you limit yourself to one package. If you consume more than that, the benefits are lost.
While the snack packs are winners for portion control and short-term satisfaction, they typically lack hunger-controlling nutrients (fiber, protein and healthy fats). This means that they won’t control your hunger for long and may lead to further snacking and higher calorie consumption over the course of the day. A handful of nuts or a piece of fruit could stave off the munchies for around the same number of calories while also providing key nutrients like fiber or healthy fats.
And despite the fact that the labels on these snack packs claim "0 grams of trans fats," many still contain hydrogenated oil—the prime source of trans fats. Legally, manufacturers can label products as trans-fat-free if they contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Continued ›