If you’re an on-the-go person, you know that snacking is essential to keeping your energy up and getting the nutrients you need throughout the day. Anyone can tell you that candy, soda, and chocolate are not going to be the best choices for healthy eating. However, did you know that a lot of snack foods that seem like good choices might not be the best options?
There are quick, easy, healthy options out there for on-the-run snacking, you just have to know where to find them. Here are 5 of the worst snack foods you’ve probably mistaken for a healthy treat and 5 alternative ideas for you to try:
- Fruit Snacks
Many companies advertise their fruit gummies or strips to be healthier than competitors but the truth is, across the board they contain more sugar than necessary and preservatives. Generally speaking, they aren’t the best option for a snack that’s going to leave you energized, feeling full, and keep you healthy.
A better option: Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is an amazing snack for busy people. There are so many things to try; figs, dates, plantain chips, apricots, and other dehydrated versions of your favorite fruits. Ensure you select options with no sugar added because fruits already have enough natural sugar to be tasty au natural.
- Packaged Pastries
We all have to admit we’ve enjoyed a Pop Tart from time to time but these treats are literally coated in and filled with sugar. As yummy as the various pre-packed cookies and pastries are, they just don’t offer any benefits to keep your energy up.
A better option: Protein Bars
Protein bars offer added vitamins while also being very filling. While there are definitely a lot of sugary ones on the market, there are many great options. A good example would be the delicious but healthy Special K Protein Bars.
- Salted Crackers
Crackers seem like a pretty harmless snack and truthfully, they can be. There are many crackers that are multigrain and even vegetable based. The sad reality is that those aren’t usually the ones we reach for in the grocery store. Most of the flakey, cheesy, tastier crackers contain high amounts of sodium and trans fat.
A better option: Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds a such a good snack for many reasons. The act of actually shelling the seeds often results in eating less food than you would otherwise because you have time to be in tune with what your stomach is telling you. Sunflower seeds also come in a huge variety of flavours including salted, dill pickle, and BBQ.
- Fruit Cups
Fruit is healthy, isn’t it? Well the easy answer is yes, but there is a lot that happens in the process of creating the easy to bring along fruit cups we all love. First of all, when you cut up fruit, it begins to go bad but fruit cups often expire 3 months or more after you buy them. That’s because of added preservatives. The syrupy liquid or gel they come is also full of extra sugar you simply don’t need.
A better option: Yogurt Parfait
Why just stick to fruit! Yogurt parfaits are great and super convenient. You can make them yourself at home or pick one up at most coffee shops. They basically contain a yogurt base, a layer of fruit (typically berries), and then a top layer of granola pieces. You can even freeze the berries to keep things cold and fresh while you’re on the go. You mix it all together and it’s honestly one of the best snacks ever. You can mix in flax-seed for added nutrients as well.
Once again, no, this snack isn’t always super unhealthy. You can get whole grain items pretty easily. But we tend to enjoy the ones that are cupcakes without frosting. Chocolate chips, tons of sugar, and more fat than any snack should contain.
A better option: Trail Mix
Trail mix is super fun because it can really be anything. It usually has nuts of some kind but from that point, it’s anything goes. There are a lot of trail mixes that aren’t really the best but you can use your own discretion when it comes to making healthy picks. Try to aim for ones that include a variety of healthy ingredients (like dried fruit, nuts, and seeds.) If you must have something sweet, go for a mix with dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate.
There’s nothing wrong with snacking despite what many diet plans might tell you. It keeps you going and for some people, it’s preferable to large, sit down meals. But do your body a favor and make selections that are going to offer lots of benefits without any consequences. Whether you’re starving between meetings or feeling hungry during a class lecture, these healthy treats are bound to get you wherever you’re headed.
Featured Image via Kristin Sundberg.