I ran across this article on Shine, Yahoo’s magazine. It is a critique of popular “healthy” snack foods. I would have just nodded and smiled, if I hadn’t just had this discussion twice this week with two different people. It proves sales gimmicks trump common sense.
Unless it is real food, like fruit or vegetable sticks, snacks should be eliminated. Anything marketed as a snack food is just about guaranteed to be high in fat, sugar, preservatives, salt or deficient in fiber, vitamins and protein. As I’ve often noted, nobody can afford empty calories. Either you are dieting, and not eating many calories, or you are maintaining, and your body needs those nutrients. That’s not to say you can never have a treat, but if you keep the idea in your head that no empty calories are good, then you won’t fudge and keep saying “this one won’t hurt”. Most people underestimate the amount of junk they eat. It’s a little here, and a little there, and people don’t add it up. People also fall prey to marketing. Cliff bars are loaded with sugar. Unless you truly are out hiking in the wilderness, you don’t need the extra sugar.
But Please Eat.
Now that I’ve depressed you, I’ll lift you back up. While I don’t want you “snacking”, I do want you eating. A lot. Frequently. I eat at least 4 times a day, and often 6. All I ask is that you eat real food. As I mentioned above, Fruit, vegetables, cheese, yogurt, nuts, and seeds all make great mini meals. Instead of that Cliff bar, eat a banana with peanut butter. On the go? Fruit comes in it’s own wrapper. As long as you can afford the calories, I have no objection to those string cheese snacks. I have LOTS of objections to most yogurt, as they load them with sugar, artificial sweeteners and chemical flavorings. Learn to like real yogurt with real fruit. If the taste really bothers you, add a tiny amount of jam. I’m not a big fan of commercial cereal, but it beats a bowl of ice cream for sugar and calories. Just choose wisely, less than 5 grams of sugar per serving. Some commercial cereals have 12g or more. A serving of molasses has 14g, to put that in perspective.
The pit falls are everywhere.
That virtuous pumpkin bread? More sugar than flour in most recipes. Your coffee? Those flavored creamers are nothing but sugar, oil and chemicals. I like my first cup with stuff in it, I add soy milk and a bit of molasses. Sometimes cinnamon. Cinnamon is great, it makes everything taste sweeter and helps regulate your blood sugar. A win-win in my book. In any case, read labels, and try to stick to things that don’t have labels, like everything in the produce section. Please avoid things that are heavily marketed, and sold as convenience, snacking or “healthy”. You have to be on your guard in the supermarket. If you read the article I referenced, they did give the thumbs up to a few things, but a sweet potato chip cannot compare to a sweet potato.
Make your own.
The smartest, safest and easiest way to eat well is to make your own. Again, referencing the article, your homemade kale chips will far surpass the store bought. You can control the sugar and salt in what you make. Plus, spending the time making it will mean you aren’t sitting on your butt watching tv! If you tell me you don’t have time, what are you spending your time on? If you have time to watch movies, party, or otherwise to other things that don’t benefit your health, then you have time. If you truly don’t have time, buy those prepackaged vegetables sticks and fruit, the cheese sticks, and plain yogurt. If you read labels, you can find healthy foods. Make larger batches of healthy food and freeze some. You spend your time on what’s important to you. If your health isn’t the most important thing to you, you aren’t looking at the big picture. You can’t do all the other things you want to do if you don’t have good health.