Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Difference Between a Snack And a Treat

Snacking is a major pastime for kids and adults alike. Our lives are filled with busy work schedules, long school days, after school activities, play dates, and meetings. When we become hungry, it’s easy to forget about healthy eating and grab what’s most convenient. Making smart snacking choices; however, shouldn’t be a challenge, and snacking is not bad, if done right.  Stop the cycle of unhealthy snacking by thinking outside the box and discovering that snack boxes, bags, vending machines, and drive-thru’s are not your only choices. 

Don’t fall prey to marketing and advertizing, which doesn’t always have our best health interest at heart. Phrases like “Low Fat,” “Non-Fat,” and “Fat Free” can be misleading and may lead you to ignore other important facts about the foods you’re putting into your body. For example, McDonald’s recently came out with a new kid’s menu that they claim offers more healthy snack options than their previous menu. The menu was changed to satisfy people who criticize McDonalds for contributing to the growing population of obese people in Today’s world. Although the menu now includes apple slices and free milk, these rumored “healthy” options are loaded with sugar, artificial flavors and colors, and preservatives. Unfortunately, the new menu has done more for publicity than it has done for the actual health of McDonald’s customers. 

The key to healthy snacking is to know the difference between a nutritious snack and a treat. Low fat muffins and granola bars may be easily accessible and seem like the healthiest choice, but these foods don’t contain important nutrients that your body needs to sustain energy and concentration. In fact, these foods are treats, not snacks. Smart snacks should be a primer of powerful protein, healthy brain boosting fats, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals to maintain energy throughout your busy day. 

A nutritious snack includes protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Avoid synthetic food items that contain high amounts of sugar, artificial flavors and colors, sodium and chemicals meant to prolong the shelf life of a product. Be a label detective and look at the ingredients list before you put food into your body. Many foods that are marketed as “healthy” snacks are actually loaded with sugar. For example, sports drinks, cereals, granola bars, low fat muffins, and certain yogurts are packed with sugar.  Learning how to decode food labels can detect hidden sugar inside rumored healthy snacks.  Stay tune for our favorite healthy grab and go snacks.