Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Snacking on the go made easy!

In the comfort of your own home, it is easy to be health conscious in choosing your snacks. However, it is more difficult when you are out and about. Whether it is a quick snack while running errands or a meal on the way to your next meeting, we are constantly being bombarded with highly marketed choices-- even the ones that are marketed as healthy, may not be.

But don’t fear! There are simple ways to slowly but surely change your snacking choices. First, explore your neighborhood and see the different options out there. If you are familiar with your surroundings, you can make good decisions even when you are in a rush.

Second, be a food "detective" when making snack and beverage choices. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the ingredients used in local food establishments!

Third, the packaging of a product may be attractive, but the only way to truly know what you are eating is to look at the nutrition label on the back.

Armed with the right tips, and tricks it can be easy to snack smart even when you are on the go. Remember, a smart snack should contain a protein, a complex carbohydrate, and a healthy fat. While this may sound a bit daunting at first the combination can be easily achieved, and fuel you for hours. Here is a list of ten simple and accessible snacks!

  • Fruit with nut butter, e.g. green apple with peanut butter, banana with almond butter, red apple with sunflower seed butter (perfect for nut allergies!) 
  • Veggies with hummus 
  • Trail mixes of nuts and dried fruit 
  • Cheese sticks with whole-grain crackers and avocado slices 
  • Lara Bars- many interesting flavors! 
  • Yogurt with berries and a couple of nuts for crunch and healthy fat 
  • Seaweed rolled up with brown rice and avocado or cucumbers 
  • Frozen fruit smoothie: try banana, almond milk and some almond butter for a refreshing and energizing option 
  • Brown rice cake with nut butter and raisins 
  • Turkey cheese and avocado rollups
What's your favorite on the go snack? We would love to know!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Do You Know How Much Sugar Is In Your Favorite Snack?

Last Sunday, I was at Kidsfest NYC teaching children about healthy snacking habits and label reading. Kids and parents alike were drawn to my table by a sign that read, “Is Vitamin Water healthy?” to which many of them immediately responded yes. On the table, I displayed an array of snack and drink items with the amount of sugar attached in zip lock bags. 

(Quick tip: To easily convert grams to teaspoons on your own, divide the number of grams listed on the label by four!) 

Kids and parents alike were appalled by how full many of the zip lock bags on the table were. While many people said they could easily gulp down a seemingly harmless Snapple or Naked Juice, they were shocked when they saw how much sugar they were actually consuming. Although they could never imagine eating 19 teaspoons of sugar, drinking such excessive amounts in a few gulps seemed so effortless. One man said the visual of the full bags of sugar gave a "concrete reality" of how much sugar he was unknowingly consuming each day.

While many families may try to provide healthy food during mealtime, kids have the most influence over snack time choices, which can be put them at risk for sugar and chemical overload. Snack and drink products marketed as healthy to our kids, can often be the worst nutritional offender. Just because a company tells you their product is "all-natural" or healthy does not mean they have your nutrition at heart. 

As parents, we need to teach our children how to eat well and most importantly to be aware of what we put into our bodies. To most of the children I talked to at Kidsfest, the nutrition facts label was like another language. If America wants to curb obesity rates we need to educate kids on the importance of eating healthy and how to make healthy choices.

The take away message from Sunday's event is that we cannot trust manufacturers with the health of our families. Even if a product is marketed as healthy we must read the nutrition labels on the back to see what the product actually contains.

What do you think? Do you have any tips to promote health?