With so many consumers living an on-the-go lifestyle, the convenience of high-calorie snacks is too hard to pass up—and too easy to trade off for a more nutritious option.

Not only are they easy to pick up, but these snacks can also be hard to put down. Consider this very relatable scenario: a customer purchases a package of snacks at the supermarket with the intention of only eating a few sporadic bites over an extended period. But by the time they get home, they’ve devoured most of what was purchased while driving in the car.

Of course, this isn’t ideal; continually eating such snacks will eventually result in weight gain or other health-related issues.

Eliminating these foods from our diet takes a considerable amount of self-discipline, which is something that can be very difficult for many of us to do. In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear someone use the phrase “these are addicting!” in reference to a snack.

Now we may know why.

Several studies have revealed why so many of us consume sweets and snacks uncontrollably. The National Institute of Drug Abuse concluded that “in general, the brain appears to be uniquely drawn to high-calorie, low-nutrient foods of the kind filling the shelves at every” food store location.

Further research indicates that once people start eating these foods, it becomes a habit. At Rockefeller University, researcher Sarah Leibowitz found that “the more we eat [high-calorie snack foods], the more we want.” In addition, she also found that this type of food addiction tends to be passed on to future generations.

Should food retailers stop selling these food items? In short, no—while there may be warnings from government and other sources about the potential negative impacts of frequently eating these foods, they have passed food inspections and meet regulations. If customers want to purchase them, that’s their choice.

With that in mind, supermarket operators are beginning to offer their customers healthier food options—especially grab-and-go items typically made in-house.

Some food outlets have made providing healthier food options easy by turning to a new generation of kitchen automation platforms. These systems help prepare recipes and menu instructions that are delivered from a central location to multiple food outlets via tablets in real time.

Many of these systems also include specially designed label printers that wirelessly connect to the tablets and print corresponding food labels, which are essential for such a health-focused program to succeed.

While high-calorie snacks aren’t going anywhere, these new technologies are giving operators a chance to put a focus on healthier snack options.   

Jill Carte, Director of Product Development for DayMark Safety Systems, a leading manufacturer of food labeling and menu management technologies.