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Jody Holton column: Snack attack: Aim for healthy treats

The good news is snacks are a good thing. I knew that would get your attention

Snacks often get a bad rap, and with good reason: Folks seem to grab the first fast-to unwrap-thing they find and stick it in their mouth. This item is usually fried/salty/sugary/fatty and that is not a good thing. But a healthy eating style allows and encourages healthy snacks, often one mid-morning and one mid-afternoon.

Now, let’s look at some good choices vs. the bad choices. I hope you find that you have been making more of the good selections, rather than the bad ones.

What makes a healthy snack? A good-for-you snack is one that’s high in nutritional value (protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber) but relatively low in calories, total fat, saturated fat (no trans fat), sugar, and sodium. And the most important part of that equation is “high in nutritional value.”

Nuts, for example, are high in fat and calories, but they are also loaded with nutrients we need, which makes them a healthy choice. On the flip side, not-so-healthy snack choices are usually low in nutritional value but high in calories, total fat, saturated fat (and sometimes trans fat), sugars or sodium.

A snack should contain no more than 200 calories. Please read labels carefully. And don’t be lulled into a false sense of being good by picking up those 100 calorie packs of anything; they may be 100 calories, but the odds are the portion is so small that you will easily consume more than you should, to be satisfied.

Good:

  • Greek Yogurt, read labels carefully, I use a brand that is 5 oz. and has only 80 calories.
  • Popcorn, the kind you pop on top of the stove, ¼ cup kernels, 2 tbl. olive oil or coconut oil, dash of sea salt after popping.
  • Fresh fruit or veggies
  • Raw almonds
  • Plain shredded wheat biscuits (my current go-to snack; it satisfies the need for chewing), drink plenty of liquid with this.

Bad:

  • Yogurt (I know, a little confusing) Some of these so called healthy foods have as many calories and sugar as a candy bar. Read those labels carefully.
  • Gotcha! Leave that microwave stuff alone, too many chemicals, way too much sodium and fat.
  • Fruit Chews/Energy Bars, way too high in sugars, fat, and calories for the size of the serving.
  • Salted or Sugared Nuts, that one is pretty self-explanatory.
  • Anything in the Chip/Cracker/Bakery aisle at the store. Leave it alone. Just keep on walking, don’t even bother with reading the labels, and don’t be fooled by the term “Vegi” on the label. Vegi chips are primarily starch based and contain very little if any real healthy vegetable matter.

I was at the grocery store this weekend and saw a mom tell her pre-schooler to go pick out a snack. He ran right over to the orange-colored snack crackers. I know moms are often rushed, but please take a little extra time and effort to fuel those kids and yourself up with something your body can use and not some artery-clogging, fat-producing, junk food.

Eating right and staying active today will pay off in lower health care costs tomorrow. Have a good snack and stay healthy, my friends.

Jody Holton writes about health for The Port Arthur News.