Healthy Alternatives To Your Cult-Following Snacks
Although I do not claim to be any sort of registered dietitian or nutritionist, over the years, I have done my fair share researching and educating myself in what is beneficial for your body and what is counteractive, across the board. Today, the food market is gradually becoming more wide-range and offering many healthy and accessible options for consumers. Now, I would be a hypocrite if I said I never eat these indulgent foods from time to time but I strictly live by the 80/20 rule and like to find alternatives so that I stay consistent and I never feel deprived. Since many ask what I do when I just “want a piece of chocolate” or “what I eat instead of”, below is a list of healthy alternatives to some cult-favorite temptations that I try and stay away from.
OPT OUT: Chips & Crackers
OPT IN: Beanitos, Homeade sweet potato chips
Although tempting and easy to grab, most chips and crackers are loaded with unhealthy carbohydrates and oils that ultimately leave you unsatisfied. These foods are also typically full of hydrogenated oils which contain high amounts of trans fat, raises LDL, 'bad' cholesterol, and lowers HDL, 'good' cholesterol, throwing your body totally out of whack (Team). They also contain essentially no fiber or protein. If looking for something substantial and nutritionally rich, I like to make homemade crispy sweet potato chips baked with little bit of salt and olive oil. A store bought product I love is Beanito Chips. They are made with beans, packed with fiber and protein , and have the same crunchy sensation as a typical chip.
Opt Out: Sugary Granola Bars
Opt In: Handful of Nuts, Non-GMO Beef Jerky
Granola bars and energy bars are marketed as good for you, but many of them are loaded with as much sugar as a candy bar. Brands that claim to be healthy, such as Clif bars, Kind bars, or Lara Bars, still contain high amounts of sugar and almost no protein or fiber. So to stay satisfied while on-the-go, I always opt for unsalted nuts or my favorite, Epic Beef Jerky. Always read the nutrition facts before you trust the health claims (Team).
Opt Out: Store-Bought Smoothies
Opt In: Homemade Smoothies
While you think smoothies or bowls may be a healthier choice than most, They are actually loaded with tons of calories and sugar. Many companies add fruit juice or cane sugar to smoothies which can run up 300-700 calories per quick “snack” (Team). Smoothie bowls can also have added fruit juice, but toppings can consist of granola, honey, Nutella, etc. Instead, you can save money and stay healthy by making your own. If I make my own smoothies or smoothie bowls, I like to add tons of vegetables and supplements. I also opt for unsweetened toppings and liquids, such as coconut water, raw cacao, and chia seeds.
Opt Out: Conventional Chocolate
Opt In: Lily’s Sweets Chocolate
Now, if you know me, you know I am a sucker for anything chocolate-related. I actually eat a piece of chocolate almost every night after dinner. Instead of bars that contain a lot of refined sugar and additives, my favorite brand is Lily’s Sweets. Lily’s is Non-GMO and is only sweetened with stevia. My favorite is 70% salted almond dark chocolate…yum!
Opt Out: Soda
Opt In: GT’s Kombucha or NATURALLY Flavored sparkling water
I think its clear to say that soda is not good for you. The amount of artificial flavors, dyes, sweeteners, and carcinogens is reason enough to completely drop the can out of your hand, let alone drink it (Food Revolution). Luckily for you, the fizzy sensation many gravitate towards comes in many healthy alternatives. La Croix is one of my favorites as it has 0 calories and is naturally sweetened by 100% natural fruit. Another option (and money saving one) is actually Whole Food’s 365 Everyday sparkling water that has the same ingredients as La Croix. If you are looking for a fizzy yet gut-healing option, I only drink GT’s Kombucha. It has no added sugar and is all organic. Other Kombucha brands can add sugar so make sure you check the label. GT’s Kombucha also reaps a list of beneficial components including probiotics, amino acids, polyphenols and active enzymes.
Opt Out: Breakfast Cereal
Opt In: Homemade Chia Seed Pudding, Steel Cut Oatmeal
“Cereal may be convenient, but some brands have as much as 20 grams of sugar in a serving and get more than half their calories from sugar (here’s looking at you, Honey Smacks). One big giveaway: sugar or high-fructose corn syrup is first or second on the ingredient list. And seemingly healthy choices aren’t immune: store-bought granola has between 20 and 30 grams of sugar in a cup. That’s the same amount of sugar as 2 or 3 Krispy Kreme donuts (a glazed donut has 10 grams of sugar)” (Sweet Defeat). My choice? I love making overnight chia seed pudding made with unsweetened almond milk. And if I really want oatmeal, I will make some with water and add chia seeds, ground flax seeds, and my absolute favorite nut butter, NutZo (I only buy the Power Fuel Crunchy, no peanuts).
Team, Family Health. “7 Worst Snacks Your Dietitian Would Never Eat.” Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, 25 Feb. 2019, health.clevelandclinic.org/7-worst-snacks-dietitian-never-eat/.
“Soda Health Risks: 21 Ways Drinking Soda Is Bad for Your Health.” Food Revolution Network, Food Revolution Network, 15 May 2018, foodrevolution.org/blog/food-and-health/soda-health-risks/.
Sweet Defeat Blog, www.sweetdefeat.com/blog/the-9-surprising-sugar-bombs-in-your-pantry.