We’ve all got our go to snack food that we just love to mindlessly munch on. When I was doing crisis intervention work with families, I developed a serious Bit-O-Honey habit. There was something about that salty/sweet combination and the exhaustive chewing that helped me to escape. So it should come as no surprise to you that we Americans tend to choose snacks based on our emotions and our desire to satiate our taste buds.

I was conducting some research for my new book (coming this June so be on the lookout!) and came across some interesting statistics about our snacking habits. I doubt any of it will be shocking information but it should raise the question, “Whose choosing my snacks—me or my taste buds?”

  • American families seem to favor snacks above all else resulting in about 41.4 billion dollars of sales in 2010. (Statista) I hope they didn’t spend too much money on this research. Because they could have just gone to any baseball game or movie theater in America to figure this out. Matter-of-fact, that 41.4 billion might be based on movie theater snack sales alone.
  • Our snack of choice…salty snacks. Our love for treats that raise our blood pressure experienced one of the highest growth in sales in 2013. (Statista) Uh, duh. Chips, popcorn, nuts, crackers…is anyone drooling yet? Salt is a great example of how our taste buds often override our better judgment. It’s so very bad for us yet we can’t seem to stop putting it in or on everything.
  • When it comes to fast food we still prefer McDonald’s, then Subway, and not surprisingly Starbucks coming in at a close third. (Technomic, 2013a) It’s hard not to crave foods that are addictive. “Crack” fries, bread, sugar, and caffeine; they’re all legal, addictive, and have the ability to alter your mood. But at least Subway is offering some vegetables to try to offset the diabetes risk.
  • Half of adults bought prepared foods at a convenience store in 2013. (CSNews, 2013) Seriously? My guess is that the same half of adults spent 25% of their post-lunch time in the bathroom.
  • About 56% of home cooks made at least one weeknight dinner from scratch, with poultry as the meat of choice and the most popular vegetables being tomatoes, onions, and potatoes. (MSI, 2012a) Okay, I know this one isn’t necessarily about snacks but it brings up an important point. We Americans have an aversion to green vegetables (and I’m not talking salads). While fresh tomatoes are healthy, most people consume their tomatoes in the form of processed sauce and ketchup. So don’t go patting yourselves on the back quite yet.

Don’t get me wrong. We’ve made some great strides in changing the way we eat. More of us are taking vitamins, drinking water, and choosing fresh organic foods. But we’ve still got a lot of work to do in kicking our bad snack habit. Trust me, I know. I’ve been off of Bit-O-Honey for over ten years but I’m aware that one bite can pull me right back in. We have the will power to change these statistics and it’s as easy as changing our taste buds. Just keep introducing fresh, nutritious snacks into your diet and your cravings will eventually come around. And don’t let anyone shame you for taking some grapes into the movie theater (you know who you are).

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