Sweet-tooth nation: Average person overindulges on junk food 3 nights a week

NEW YORK — Do you give your sweet tooth a “hall pass” after a day of good behavior? A new survey finds many Americans believe eating healthy during the day gives them permission to overindulge in unhealthy food at night.

The recent poll of 2,004 U.S. residents suggests the average person overindulges in unhealthy food three nights per week. Six in 10 (62%) feel they always sacrifice taste over nutritional value when it comes to healthy snacks.

Others go with the flow and wait until their cravings start kicking in. Forty-one percent say their cravings kick in around mid-afternoon, while 19 percent will typically look for a treat after dinner. Aside from eating other meals, snacks are a must for 83 percent of people who admit they have at least two a day.

Americans are constantly munching

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Lundberg Family Farms, the survey also reveals that 69 percent prefer snacking throughout the day instead of eating full, hearty meals. Another 65 percent feel guilty for munching on treats throughout the day.

Most respondents agree that nutritious snacking is better than not snacking at all (79%). However, more than half struggle with consciously choosing healthy treats (56%). Three in four say they’re trying to make healthier choices by paying attention to nutritional facts and product health claims when shopping for snacks.

“While the data show that Americans struggle with finding healthy snacks that also taste good, taste and nutrition don’t have to be mutually exclusive,” says Matt Slem, culinary scientist and rice expert at Lundberg Family Farms, in a statement. “Choosing the right snack means you can see the benefits of healthy eating, such as maintaining your energy and blood sugar levels throughout the day, without having to sacrifice taste.”

healthy snackingTo add more flavor to their treats, people incorporate cheese or maple (39%), and others enhance natural flavors by roasting citrus or adding salt to fruit (35%). Snack lovers note that they never run out of snacks because they always have snacks on-hand after buying in bulk (34%).

Can’t touch this

Snackers are also getting good at hiding their treats, too. More than a third of respondents even admit they hide the good snacks they don’t want to share with others by placing them on top of cabinets (36%), while 34 percent will keep a secret stash in their closet. When they are in the mood to share, people are happiest to share their snacks with their significant other (53%), their children (48%), or friends (38%).

“Snacking doesn’t have to be something you’re ashamed of,” Slem adds. “It’s not just feeding yourself or your family today — you can also start cultivating healthy habits for tomorrow. You can have your cake and eat it too by choosing snacks that nourish your taste buds and your body.”

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