Snack time is definitely a tricky situation when it comes to healthy eating. Finding a healthy snack can feel like a lost cause at times. Not to mention, there are so many products that say they are healthy. In this article we will look at some fit swaps to give you some ideas for healthy snacks!
What Does Healthy Mean?
The term healthy has been tossed around so much that the true definition of what healthy is has been lost. Not to mention, there are several definitions of healthy that are correct. Many companies have slapped the term healthy on their products so that people will buy them. Some people think that organic is healthy. Some people think gluten free is healthy. Low-carb has been considered healthy. High-fat has been considered healthy. You see where I am going with this? Healthy has a wide range of definitions, some of them wrong, some of them right.
Your definition of healthy should be what works best for you. If your body functions best on a lower-carb/higher-fat diet, go for it. Maybe your body likes higher carbs, then use that approach. If you are gluten intolerant, or just feel better when you don’t eat gluten, then say cya to gluten. Some organic foods are healthier than their non-organic counter parts. However, companies have started putting organic on products THAT ARE STILL NOT HEALTHY. I don’t care if a package of peanut butter cups are organic or not, they still aren’t healthy.
For the purposes of this article, we are going to consider healthy to mean whole foods that give you the most energy, have the least amount of ingredients/additives, have more protein or healthy carbs/fats, and that your body will be able to use more effectively. These foods will give your body more of what it needs in the sense of nutrients, and they will get rid of those things that your body doesn’t need.
Why Are There Two Sections?
I broke the infographics down into two separate sections: one for healthy snack swaps for unhealthy snacks, and one for the healthiest snack swaps for the healthy snack swaps. This is not to say that some of the healthier snack swaps are not healthy, because they are. Many people would find it very difficult to jump from eating Lay’s potato chips to plain popcorn. Therefore, I added an intermediary step that will allow people to acclimate to the healthier lifestyle.
For the unhealthy for healthier chart, I want you to think of this one as you are going to replace the unhealthy items with their healthier counterparts. Eventually, the unhealthy items should be eaten only as part of a cheat meal or eliminated altogether.
For the healthier to healthiest chart, these foods are going to basically be interchangeable. You don’t have to limit the healthier items to cheat meals or eliminate them. The healthier foods are still good for you. However, the healthiest options are the ones you should choose from the most often because they have the least ingredients, which means they are the least processed and will work with your body the best.
Your typical granola bars, while possibly containing whole grains, can also pack an impressive amount of sugar and fat. I am all for grab and go snacks. Sometimes a protein shake and a granola bar equals my breakfast. The key to granola bars is to pick the ones that have the least ingredients in them and are the least processed. Look for low sugar and a shorter ingredient list.
A Quaker granola bar has only 2.5 fat, 20g carb with 5g sugar, and 2g protein with 120 calories. However, the ingredient list is longer than the 20 page paper that I had to write for my seminar class. This is not a good sign of health. The Kind bars have 13g fat, 17g carbs with 9g sugar, and 7g protein with 200 calories. The fact that these bars are higher in fat from the nuts means that they will keep you fuller longer. The ingredient list for the Kind bars is about half the size of the ingredient list for the Quaker bars.
The hands down best granola style bars on the market are Larabars. Larabars are made from dried fruit and nuts, meaning that they are not processed at all. If you are looking to save a little $$$, you can even make your own Larabars right at home! Here is a great recipe! You will notice that the Larabars are higher in sugar, but this sugar is coming from fruit, which is a natural sugar that your body prefers over the processed junk found in the Quaker bars.
Chips are a snack food that many people struggle with. The crunchy saltiness of the chips fulfills all of our pleasure senses and leaves us wanting more. This is the biggest issue with chips. Most people cannot eat just a handful. Half the bag later, you feel guilty but you also couldn’t stop yourself. Just don’t go there.
A healthier alternative to chips are bean chips. Most bean chips, such as Beanitos, are made with complex carbs like black beans and rice. This means that they will keep you fuller longer than a typical potato chip.
The healthiest alternative to chips is some plain popcorn seasoned with sea salt. This gives you the crunch and the saltiness like the chips, without the extra calories and fat. If you want the crunch with your sandwich or as a bedtime snack, opt for the popcorn.
On a closely related note to chips, let’s talk about dips. You know that french onion dip you love to dip veggies and chips into? Not a good choice for your waistline or your health.
Heluva Good french onion dip contains modified corn starch as well as sugar, with an ingredient list that is home to over 12 ingredients. This fat packed dip will leave you feeling sluggish and guilty. Try pairing your veggies and your bean chips with guacamole instead. Although guac is home to a significant amount of fat, the fat comes from one of the best sources on earth: avocado. Guac has six ingredients, all except the dehydrate onion being whole ingredients.
If you want to leave the fat behind and go for as fresh as possible with your dip, there is no better choice than pico de gallo. Loaded with fresh ingredients and vitamins, pico won’t leave you feeling like you just ate the kitchen sink. Here we come to an important distinction. Guac is not bad for you at all. Pico and guac should be used in your diet at the appropriate times. If you need a little more fat in your day, go for the guac. If you need some more fresh veggies in your day, go for the pico!
Oils are not a typical snack food. However, think about how much stuff you slap oils onto. Butter on toast, olive oil on a salad, butter on popcorn, etc. So when it comes to using oils, you want to try and pick the ones that won’t slam your arteries shut when you eat them. That’s the goal anyhow.
Butter is widely recognized as a substance that is not especially great for you. However, don’t think that you can never have butter again. The idea behind the sheets is to limit as much as possible the unhealthy, while replacing it with healthier options. In the case of butter, if you usually cook with butter replace it with olive oil. Just swap the two. I know you can’t put olive oil on toast. Opt for all natural peanut butter as your source of fats for bread related items.
So is coconut oil better for you than olive oil? Again, not really. Coconut oil can be less processed than olive oil at times and is slightly lower in calories. However, both are excellent sources of fat for your diet. Use them interchangeably in your food adventures.
Last, but certainly not least, is yogurt. All yogurt is healthy right? Awwwww no. This might be the one food item that throws most people off. They think that because they had a yogurt, it is healthy. This could not be further from the truth.
A YoCrunch yogurt packs 130 calories, 3 grams of fat, 23 grams of carbs with 20 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein. The second ingredient listed is sugar. Not a good sign. A Light and Fit crunch yogurt has 130 calories, 3 grams of fat, 16 grams of carbs with 12 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein. Sucralose is an ingredient in the greek crunch yogurts, however it is far further down on the list of ingredients.
The hands down best option for yogurt with topping is to have a plain greek yogurt topped with a half a cup of berries, sweetened with stevia. That way you are eating whole foods with minimal ingredients and the sugar you are getting is from natural sources. No competition here folks. Go for the plain greek with fruit and stevia.
Healthy Snack Swap Wrap-Up
Having a healthy snack does not mean sacrificing flavor. It may mean sacrificing processed sugar and unhealthy fats, but who needs those EVERYDAY. As I have said many times in this healthy snack article, this does not mean that you have to forever give up your favorites. Just replace the unhealthy choices with the healthy snack choices on a regular basis to see results that you would not believe. To make this journey last forever, take the baby steps seriously. Just choose the healthiest options most often and the healthier choices more often than the unhealthy choices.
Have any questions for me? Drop them in the comments and we can chat!