It’s easy for family members of all ages to load up on empty calories. Hungry kids often automatically reach for the cookie jar or the big bag in the treat cupboard on top of the fridge. But snacks that are high in fat, salt and sugar and low in nutrition slow everybody down and contribute to a wide variety of eventual health problems. That doesn’t have to happen.
The difference between healthy and unhealthy snacks is all in the choices you make. These tips will help steer you away from that “deadly” treat cupboard and towards healthier snack choices for your family.
Hand someone a bag of chips and ask them to eat just 100 calories. Sounds impossible, right? Well for most people, it is. Soon a few chips become half the bag and the guilt sets in.
Don’t even give yourself and your loved ones the opportunity to overeat. Instead, think portion control. Replace full-size snack bags with 100-calorie snack packs. Snyder’s of Hanover offers a variety of 100-calorie pretzel snack packs. Available in mini, snap or pretzel sticks, they’re sold in the snack aisle of local grocery store. They are quick and easy and perfect for kids or adults. The best part is that once the snack pack is gone, you’re done.
Making smart snack choices doesn’t mean you have to give up flavor or your favorite foods. There are a number of products that are low in fat, and can help satisfy your cravings. Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Raisins – One ounce equals 85 calories. You could even cover them with chocolate. Chocolate can be healthy when consumed in small portions.
2. Graham crackers – Eight small rectangles are equal to 100 calories.
3. Celery with peanut butter – Five pieces of celery with one tablespoon of peanut butter is equal to 100 calories. This is a very satisfying snack packed with protein and is also gluten-free.
4. Dried fruits and nuts – A small amount of dried fruits with a small amount of nuts is a snack kids love to eat.
5. Pretzels – One ounce equals 100 calories. You can even include cheese with your pretzels for something different with added protein.
6. Unsweetened applesauce – One cup is equivalent to 100 calories, and is a great snack idea for younger children.
7. Air-popped popcorn – Three cups or one ounce equals 95 calories. Popcorn is also gluten-free.
8. Fruit – All types of fruit are full of valuable nutrients and they also contain no gluten.
9. Baked corn tortillas with dip – Corn tortillas are a great alternative to potato chips. You can eat them with salsa and/or guacamole for a healthy treat.
10. Rice cakes – Rice cakes by themselves aren’t really nutritious, but they are gluten-free. Try topping them with cottage cheese and fruit, peanut butter with banana slices, or cheese and tomatoes for a more nutritious snack.
11. Fat-free sugar-free pudding – One serving contains approximately 80 calories. This is another treat kids really enjoy.
12. Lettuce wraps – Fill a big lettuce leaf with tuna, hummus and your favorite vegetables and roll it up. You could even use a ham slice with hummus and vegetables for a change in variety. This is also a gluten-free snack.
Make it simple
Put healthy snacks out so they’re easy to grab. Take a bowl and make sure it’s filled with fresh fruit. For cold snacks create a healthy snack drawer in your refrigerator. Stock it full of baby carrots cut up veggies and low fat dip or puddings. To give your kids incentive to make healthier choices, give them permission to take any snack from these locations without asking.
When you’re in the store, read the label and look for low fat, whole grain or organic options when possible. You’d be surprised to see a lot of snacks you might have overlooked before.
Set small goals
Creating a healthy lifestyle doesn’t just happen overnight but the process shouldn’t be overwhelming either. Setting small goals, like snacking on vegetables for a week, can develop into long term eating habits. And it’s best to set goals that are obtainable so you see your success early on and you’re motivated to continue.