Snacking can be an essential party of a healthy diet, but it’s hard to pick between what’s deceivingly healthy and what actually is. It can feel impossible finding a snack that’s tasty and filling, so people fall back on pre-conceived notions of healthy treats. Here are a few of those snacks, and a few alternatives to them.
1. Fruit Juice
Fruit juices are often loaded with as much sugar as soda and are devoid of the fiber that helps with digestion and slows down the absorption of sugar.
Healthy swap: Instead of juice, reach for a piece of fruit — it’ll have less sugar and more filling fiber to help you reach your daily recommended intake of 25 and 38 grams for women and men, respectively..
2. Flavored Yogurt
Yogurt can be a great snack but flavored yogurt is often quite high in added sugar, especially the low- and fat-free varieties that rely on lots of added sugar so they still taste good even with the fat removed.
Healthy swap: Stick with plain Greek yogurt and add your own fruit to the mix. It’ll have more protein, be a lot more satiating, and keep your blood sugar more stable
3. Microwave Popcorn
Store-bought popcorn options can be excessively high in sodium. Each bag contains more than your suggested allowance of 2,300 milligrams per day!
Healthy swap: Pop your own popcorn by placing a quarter cup of popcorn kernels in a paper bag, and microwaving, add a little butter, salt, pepper.
4. Breakfast Cereal
Most breakfast cereal— even the seemingly healthy kind — is made with an excess of added sugar, with sugar listed as the second or third ingredient.
Healthy swap: Pick a cereal made with whole grains and high fiber content, like Kashi GoLean Crunch or Barbara’s Multigrain Squarefuls.
5. Sports Drinks
Most sports drinks — like Gatorade and Powerade, for example — respectively have about 34 grams and 52.5 grams of sugar per standard bottle. Outside doing really long workouts (like half marathons), most healthy adults don’t actually need the infusion of carbs and electrolytes that sports drinks provide.
Healthy swap: Use water to stay hydrated and jazz it up with citrus, cucumber, or fruit if it’s too boring.
6. Granola Bars
The idea of granola is great — whole grains mixed with some fruit for flavor and nuts for healthy fats and protein. But prepackaged granola tends to be high on the flavor and low on the nutrition.
Healthy swap: Look for, or make, bars low in added sugar and additives, like Larabars, which contain nine ingredients or less and come without preservatives or artificial ingredients.
7. Pre-Flavored Instant Oatmeal
Packets of flavored, instant-cooking oatmeal tend to be high in sugar and made from oats that are highly processed to ensure a faster cooking time. These will be lower in fiber and provide less satiety, and ultimately not keep you that full for long.
Healthy swap: Opt for steel-cut or rolled oats made without added flavoring, sugar, or preservatives. Both options are less processed are digested at a lower rate, and will keep you fuller longer.
8. Reduced / Fat-free Snacks
Most fat-free or reduced-fat snacks — be it chocolate pudding, peanut butter, or cookies — have an extra helping of sugar, salt, or both, to make sure the food tastes as good without the missing ingredient.
Healthy swap: Healthy fats in moderation help you maintain a feeling of fullness, provide our bodies with stores of energy, and can improve cholesterol levels, so don’t rule these out. Instead, choose good fats like nuts or peanut butter with a banana.