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A snack is a portion of food, often smaller than a regular meal, generally eaten between meals. Snacks come in a variety of forms including packaged snack foods and other processed foods, as well as items made from fresh ingredients at home.

Traditionally, snacks are prepared from ingredients commonly available in the home. Often cold cuts, fruit, leftovers, nuts, sandwiches, and the like are used as snacks. The Dagwood sandwich was originally the humorous result of a cartoon character's desire for large snacks. With the spread of convenience stores, packaged snack foods became a significant business. Snack foods are typically designed to be portable, quick, and satisfying. Processed snack foods, as one form of convenience food, are designed to be less perishable, more durable, and more portable than prepared foods. They often contain substantial amounts of sweeteners, preservatives, and appealing ingredients such as chocolate, peanuts, and specially-designed flavors (such as flavored potato chips).

Beverages, such as coffee, are not generally considered snacks though they may be consumed along with or in lieu of snack foods.

A snack eaten shortly before going to bed or during the night may be called a midnight snack.

In the News: Why Snacking is Good for You

This morning, The Today Show with Hoda and Kathy Lee had an interesting segment on losing weight by snacking. Nutritionist Lisa Dryer said that many people cut out snacking to lose weight, but that this is not a good idea, because your blood sugar gets low and then you may overeat during meals. But that doesn’t mean you should snack on just anything. Dryer gave some tips on choosing the right snacks that will keep you satisfied and healthy between meals. For example, she recommended munching on pistachios, because they can actually help reduce stress (better than reaching for the Ben and Jerry’s when you’re tense…). She also said that choosing puffier foods helps you feel full without ingesting as many calories, and she explained that oils with healthy fats can reduce cravings. Click the picture above or click here to watch the full segment and also read the accompanying article, "Pig out! Drop 10 Pounds by Snacking." The article gets into more detail about eating puffy foods, and also mentions the health benefits of thick foods (like yogurt and pudding) and spicy snacks.

Need some suggestions for puffy snacks? Write me a comment letting me know you’d like to see more about them on the blog, and I’ll add them to my lineup!

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