Why is snacking the hardest issue to target when attempting to follow a diet? The satisfaction we get from eating a delicious snack is hard to replace. Making a healthy meal that tastes great sometimes feels like an easier task than cutting back on snacks. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight doesn’t mean we shouldn’t reach for a bag of candy – that isn’t sustainable. However, we should look for the healthiest bag of candy to improve unhealthy habits.
Make my delicious vegan, gluten-free black bean brownies:
There are two major reasons why unhealthy snacks are especially bad for you. A majority of the candy available to us contain sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, which does not digest well in our bodies. Candies are high-calorie treats usually eaten at a time of inactivity, so the majority of the excess sugar result in stored fat. In addition, candies provide us with what is commonly referred to as “empty calories” because they do not contain much nutritional value but does provide energy. Soon after snacking, our bodies crave nutrients again, which is why overeating is such an epidemic.
When I entered a Google search for “healthy candy”, the results were predictably lackluster. A number of articles preached a tips that were geared to cutting down consumption of unhealthy candies like portion control, methods to curb cravings, and substituting sugars for artificial sweeteners. One site even went so far as to state that peanut M&M’s are healthy for having an actual nut in the snack and that marshmallows were a healthy alternative because they have less calories than a chocolate bar. This is wrong! Although there are a number of ways to help with reducing unhealthy consumption of candies, consuming less or choosing the lesser of two evils between unhealthy ingredients DOES NOT make them healthy.
Unhealthy snacking habits start from a young age, so it is important to enforce healthy snacking behaviour on your children. The best way to encourage healthy snacking is by providing treats that taste great and have more health benefits than the unhealthy commercial alternatives.
Tips on finding healthy snacks
When you can’t find the snack… make it
Aim to use natural ingredients when creating your own healthy version of snacks. Instead of the traditional enriched wheat flour used in most baked goods, try gluten-free raw almond flour or organic quinoa flour rich in protein. Traditional flour is stripped of the brand and germ, which reduces the nutritional content of the ingredient.
If you want to get the most out of your snacks, you need to consider every ingredient in your food. An easier alternative is to buy easily prepared cake mixes that tastes amazing, like this organic decadent dark chocolate cake.
Choose dark chocolate over milk or white chocolate
Dark chocolates have more antioxidants from the higher cocoa content and contain less sugar than the lighter alternatives. Look for dark chocolate mixed with hazelnuts or almonds for a snack that provides all the health benefits with nuts and dark chocolate. White chocolate is especially unhealthy because they contain milk products in addition to high amounts of added sugar. If you are feeling adventurous, there are also snack options using innovative ingredients like maca in chocolate that is great for your skin.
Choose the healthiest oral fixation
For some people, snacking is a way of having something to keep our mouth occupied. Oral fixation is the need for constant stimulation of the mouth, which can be from a number of sources including chewing, sucking or drinking. This is one of the reasons why
Caramels contain a high percentage of saturated fats and high calories. If you have an oral fixation that demands chewing, you should spend the time to find the healthiest option that may be kept in your mouth for hours. Choose aspartame-free gum using xylitol instead of dangerous sweeteners.
Pay careful attention to claims of being sugar-free
Contrary to many of the claims that you see in the media that villainizes sugar, the sweet substance isn’t necessarily bad for your health. Sugar can come from a number of natural sources like organic fruit juice, honey or xylitol – each with their own unique benefits. Treats such as dried organic honey help your body with healing, immunity and provides instant energy without dangerous chemicals. In many sugar-free foods and drinks, the manufacturers substitute sugar with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, sucralose or acesulfame potassium that may promote types of cancer, thyroid problems, headaches, and dizziness.
Enjoying your treats doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure when you realize that there are snacks that both taste good and are great for your health.