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3 Grab-and-Go Snacks That are No Good for You

By Karen Sherwood for NutritiousAmerica.com

In these last few days of October we rush around in search of the perfect costume, the most awesome carving pumpkin, and candy for the trick-or-treaters. And even before we have opened that first piece of Halloween loot we are bombarded with Christmas commercials, displays, and reminders that the rest of the holiday season is literally around the corner. Tis’ the season to have less and less time and a greater need for quick grab-and-go treats, sustenance to get you through.

There are so many options when it comes to grab-and-go snacks the grocery store isles are literally overflowing with them. Snacks claiming to be healthy, claiming to have a host of health supportive properties, but do they? Our Nutritious America detectives recently skimmed the grocery isles in search of questionable on-the-go healthy snacks.  Here are a few of the most popular culprits complete with our always unbiased opinions!

Trail Mix

There are a ton of options on the grocery store shelves when it comes to trail mix, but not all mixes are created equal so listen up!  Recognizable brand names are not as important as ingredients with this snack.  When looking at ingredients stay away from trail mixes that contain mostly peanuts and M&Ms, and focus on higher quality mixes with raw walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and small amounts of coconut.  This may cost a bit more, but it’s worth it.

If you are looking to save a few dollars, make your own trail mix! It couldn’t be easier. A handful of raw nuts, a tablespoon of your favorite dried fruit, and if you are the kind of person that thinks trail mix isn’t worth it without chocolate, throw in 5-10 dark chocolate chips!

Trail mix is a great energy boosting snack, but portion control and quality are vital here.A serving size is one-quarter cup. Since this is a snack that is definitely difficult to stop eating, we recommend dividing it up in Ziploc bags and store in the fridge. Use these pre-portioned snacks when away from home only, and only grab one!

Dark Chocolate

This is one of the most misrepresented snacks to ever hit the shelves. It is true dark chocolate offers tremendous benefits, but we’re not talking about chocolate that only says “dark” on the wrapper. This is another case of, “read the ingredients not just the ‘health claims’” on the front of the package!

In order for any of the properties in cacao to be effective, milk should not be an ingredient. Unfortunately most of these “dark chocolate” snacks are nothing more that glorified candy bars with little to no healthy properties. When reading the package, if the word “sugar” comes before “cacao”, put it back. Also look for chocolate bars that list the percentage of cacao, 70% or more is ideal. And stick to the serving size on the package, a little dark chocolate goes a long way.

100 Calorie Snack Packs

The jury has been out on this one for quite some time, yet dieters are still mislead. These innocuous looking snacks say 100 calories on their wrappers, yet they sadly equate to much more than that when processed by the body. Bleached, refined foods contain so little nutrition that they actually steal minerals from our bones just to digest them. Guess what is in the 100 calorie snack pack?  Yup, bleached and refined and heavily processed foods.

Even worse, these foods cause a dramatic blood sugar spike only to have it crash again in 45 minutes, where we rush back to the vending machine or cupboard for more ultimately consuming a whole lot more than just 100 calories!

Note to self: Even though it says 100 calories it is not a healthy snack! If you feel like a cookie head on over to a high quality bakery and get a real cookie, eat only half of it and savor every bite. It may cost more than four cheap snack packs, but if you spend a little more money on food now, you will spend less on medications in ten years.

October 27th, 2011

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