Snacking on Peanuts–A Handful was Enough
Snacking on Peanuts—A Handful Was Enough
A few weeks ago I watched an excellent old movie, Anatomy of a Murder, from 1959 starring Jimmy Stewart as a defense attorney. In one scene, he left the courtroom, went out into the hallway, put a coin into the peanut machine and got a handful of nuts. I remember those peanut machines from my childhood. You put in a nickel and got a small amount of salted peanuts.
As I was watching Jimmy Stewart get his peanuts, I thought to myself, “This is his snack. This was what was considered a snack.” The amount of peanuts that came out of the little chute was about 2 tablespoons, equaling 100 calories. This is a far cry from today’s snack calories. McDonald’s recently promoted their Fish McBites with tartar sauce as a snack to the tune of 500 calories. Their snack wraps range from 250 to 430 calories. Burger King’s wraps on their snack menu aren’t any better calorie-wise. A trip to Starbucks for an afternoon pick-me-up drink can cost you anywhere from 150 to 500 calories.
I kept thinking about how our snacking has changed in terms of portions. Then I got on a Southwest plane and they handed me the bag of peanuts. It hit me that this little bag was about the same amount as the old peanut machine, only they weren’t handing one bag. No, they were giving out 2, 3, or even 4 bags of nuts if you asked. The label on the ½ oz. bag stated 70 calories and the nuts measured out to about 1½ tablespoons.
Americans are snacking more than ever. Research presented at the 2011 Institute of Food Technologists meeting found that Americans are averaging about 600 calories per day from snacks. We are snacking on more processed foods and not fruits and vegetables. The amount of calories consumed from snacks equal another meal. So while we watch our portions at dinner, we also need to be more vigilant about what snacks we are eating and those portions as well.
Vicki Bovee, MS, RDN, LD