The proliferation of fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and vending machines in virtually every corner of residential America has created a serious nutritional problem. “Snacking” – a harmless-sounding verb that deceptively implies something unobjectionable – has reached addictive proportions.
The manifestation of this addiction goes beyond mere obesity something that is widely considered to be a severe public health crisis. Even among non-obese Americans, researchers are identifying a wave of general malnutrition that is sweeping across the country due to addictive snacking habits.
This addiction to snacking is enhanced, ironically, by the rather confusing range of so-called diet-friendly foods on the market. Some foods that are dubbed “lo-carb” diet-foods are actually causing weight gain among some dieters. In fact, some “lo-carb” labeled foods are comprised of little more than unhealthy saturated fats and even worse, they have an incredibly high calorie count.
Furthermore, many self-professed “lo-carb” foods are dangerously devoid of essential proteins and vitamins. The resulting nutritional shortage often compels dieters – even subconsciously -- to crave stimulating foods of all kinds. These cravings often include what is closest at hand: snacks and other nutritionally bankrupt junk foods.
Snacking is indeed a problem that America must begin resolving within the first few years of this 21 century. A real, practical, tangible solution is required now more than ever before, because education and awareness are not enough.
This does not imply that education and awareness aren’t vital allies in the fight against snacking and unhealthy eating. Education and awareness have played an important role thus far, and have helped create a number of healthier eating options. Indeed, the “lighter fare” choices in restaurants, and the occasional granola bar in a vending machine that is otherwise loaded with chocolate bars, are worthy gains that education and awareness have inspired. Yet education and awareness are, in and of themselves, evidently not halting this epidemic addiction to snacking quickly enough.
Adding to the problem is that so many of these junk food products are packaged in a way that implies some semblance of nutritional value. Terms like “on the go” or “instant meal” or “for busy lifestyles” adorn many packages for foods that are virtually nothing more than glorified snack foods foods that are absolutely not providing the vitamins and proteins that a healthy diet requires.
Therefore, a new approach to solving this problem is required one that stems from the momentum gained by awareness and education, but delivers a real, tangible product in the hands of Americans who want to regain control over what makes them move.
Attempts have been made, especially in the last decade, to provide Americans with this tangible solution. Nutritional energy bars now line the counter shelves of many convenience stores, and instead of energy infusion via a chocolate bar, more people are opting for these seemingly “healthier”. This is a positive step but it is not enough.
Products such as these mentioned above, while somewhat better than candy bars, are not rich in essential proteins or fortified by essential vitamins. So while ”snackers” are better off after eating one of these nutritional bars than they would be if they consumed a bag of potato chips, they are not as well off as they think they are or that the nutritional bar packaging implies that they will be. These snackers still face a shortage of protein and essential vitamins a shortage that is not going to be filled unless additional nutrition is provided.
It is within this paradigm – the search for a complete “tangible” nutrition source that is rich in protein and essential vitamins – that forward-thinking companies are engineering smarter products. These nutritionally advanced solutions are carbohydrate-free, fat-free, and low calorie complete meal sources for snackers of all types, including those that are dieting.
There are, admittedly, only a very small number of companies and products that are delivering nutritionally intelligent products into the hands of snackers. However, the fact that these progressive companies – and their innovative products – exist is a positive sign, and one that just may eventually be the turning point in America’s war against poor eating habits.