Everyone loves snacks. When we’re trying to lose weight, we’re often told to snack between meals as long as the foods we choose won’t destroy our brand-new diet. Unfortunately, we’re not very good at picking snack foods that are actually as healthy as they claim to be. We’re still dependent on processed foods to curb our cravings — and we’re destroying our own health in the process. If you want to snack healthy, make sure to keep these foods out of your pantry.
Trail mix — especially the kind you buy at the store — is both convenient and delicious. It usually isn’t healthy, though. Most packaged trail mixes contain large amounts of nuts, chocolate, and dried fruit, which packs a lot of salt and sugar in every small serving. You’ll get a healthy dose of protein and fiber if you only take a handful. Let’s be honest, though — half the bag usually disappears before you realize you aren’t hungry anymore. Try roasting chickpeas in herbs or spices for a much healthier snack.
According to Livestrong.com, many plain versions of rice cakes won’t completely ruin your diet. However, beware of flavored rice cakes, like caramel, cheese, or chocolate, which provide more added sugar and sodium per serving. If you do decide to indulge, make sure to choose whole-grain cakes. If you’re really trying to eat healthier, opt for plain, old-fashioned brown rice instead. It isn’t crunchy, but it actually has more health benefits than downsides.
Greasy, salty slices of fried starch shouldn’t sound so appealing, but that doesn’t stop most people from eating them anyway. It doesn’t help that well-known brands like Lays offer baked chips — which are definitely healthier, but still not the smartest snack in your pantry. There are healthy chip brands out there, but too much of any junk food still isn’t good for you. If you’re going to reward yourself with a handful (we’re being optimistic) every once in awhile, skip the dips — they’re delicious, but way too high in calories.
Flavored microwave popcorn
Popcorn by itself is actually an extremely healthy food, says TIME Health. Unfortunately, it’s considered standard practice to salt and butter your popcorn before you eat it — even when you aren’t at the movie theater. All that sodium and saturated fat may make your favorite snack taste amazing, but your waistline won’t thank you for your trouble. Before your next Netflix binge, grab a bag of regular air-popped popcorn — or pop the kernels yourself, using olive oil as your seasoning instead of butter and salt.
Granola bars like to pretend they’re health foods. Unfortunately, most brands add a lot of sugar, chocolate, and artificial flavors to improve the taste. Those that don’t aren’t always appetizing, which is why making your own provides a healthier and much tastier way to eat on the go. A processed food is a processed food, even if it’s “made with whole grains” and comes in single-serving packages. The ever-expanding variety of flavors may be tempting, but your body doesn’t need all that extra sugar.
According to Mayo Clinic, the term “multigrain” shouldn’t be confused with “whole grain.” Multigrain crackers, cereals, and other snack foods are made with multiple types of grains. That means a product might contain some whole grains, but refined grains likely make up a good portion of it. When choosing snacks like these, always pick whole-grain options. Even still, avoid boxed crackers made with excess salt, sugar, and other potentially dangerous ingredients.
Do you keep a jar of pickles in your fridge to grab when you’re craving something crunchy? You might want to reconsider these salty, sour cucumbers. By the time they show up on grocery store shelves, these “vegetables” literally drip salt. If you aren’t careful, you could end up eating just as much salt as you do when you have potato chips. Celery with peanut butter, though not quite the same, will satisfy your need for a crunchy snack.