Treats vs Snacks - NZ Nutrition Foundation

Treats vs Snacks - NZ Nutrition Foundation
New Zealand Nutrition Week
Treats vs Snacks
Many New Zealanders have become confused between what is a snack and what is a treat
A snack is a small portion of food eaten between meals. A healthy snack is filling and has lots of
beneficial nutrients.
A treat is defined as ‘an event or item that is out of the ordinary and gives great pleasure.’ This
means a special occasion food which often rate poorly on the nutrition scale, being high in fat, salt
and sugar. Kept to special occasions, these foods form part of a varied diet. When they are
consumed on a routine basis they will start to impact on nutrition and body weight.
Many adults like to have snacks during the day; others prefer just eating three main meals. Snacks
are about relieving hunger before the next meal, they can also stop you overeating at meal times
because you are too hungry.
Eating snacks regularly is important for young children who have small stomachs and need to eat
small amounts throughout the day to meet their energy needs. For those exercising or doing sport,
snacks are a way of meeting needs both before and after exercise. For people wanting to increase
your weight, adding snacks each day can help.
Our food environment has changed over the past decade. All supermarkets now have a ‘snack’ food
aisle which is enticing and full of colour. Think of the multi-pack foods available now in small sizes muesli & cereal bars, chips, biscuits, chocolates, pretzels, lollies. These packages are convenient for
lunchboxes and handbags, staying fresh for a long time. However, a lot of these foods are still
‘treats’ -just because it is in a small packet doesn’t mean it is healthy for a snack.
Every day in New Zealand schools kilograms of food wrappers are collected in the rubbish bin. A
majority of the children have a small packet of ‘chippies’ or packaged food in their lunchbox every
day. Foods such as potato crisps which are deep fried and have salt added, should in fact be
considered a treat food - having them every day normalises them into a food children think they can
eat regularly, rather than occasionally. This has implications in future life, as dietary habits tend to
follow from childhood into adolescence and adulthood.
For healthy snacks consider the following:
Vegetable sticks
Plain popcorn
Yoghurt and dairy food
Nuts and dried fruit
Low-fat crackers and hummus
Some cereal bars (less than 600kJ per bar)
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