Let’s be honest, the convenience of pre-packaged snacks can often make them an attractive and easy go to option!
We all lead busy lives and the ability to prepare snacks, or even to have them on hand when needed is not always realistic.
Packaged snacks don’t necessarily have to be unhealthy though! Arm yourself with some key things to look for and you’ll be able to pick the great options from the array of pretty packaged goodies in no time!
Below are some tips on what to look at on packaging and some of my favourite ‘on the go’ snacks that keep me fuelled and feeling my best!
Firstly, taking a look at the packaging:
- Check the ingredients! These are listed in quantity, from the highest to lowest amount the product contains.
- If the ingredients list is long, or you can’t pronounce some of the items, this may suggest it is not such a healthy option. It may also suggest that the product is highly processed.
- The first few ingredients will make up the majority of your chosen snack – try to choose products that have wholefoods as their first 2-3 listed.
- ‘Light’ or ‘Low Fat’ does not always mean healthier! Often some or all of the fat from a product is often removed and replaced with salt and sugar to retain flavour! Again, reading ingredients list will help here.
- On the sugar note – this bad boy can be disguised in many ways, eg: fructose, corn syrup, maltodextrin, honey, fruit juice, sucrose, glucose, malt syrup to name just a few common sugar alternatives! Look for snack items that have ideally less than 10g of sugar per 100g.
- Use the ‘Per 100g’ column when comparing items that are alike. The ‘serving size’ can vary hugely between brands, so using this column is not an accurate comparison.
- As a guide, when looking at the Nutrition Information panel on a product look for the following – more than 5g of fibre per 100g, less than 10g of sugar per 100g, and less than 400mg of sodium per 100g. I tend to not look at the fat content because if your snack is low in sugar and includes fibre enough of the boxes are ticked to make it a great choice!
Now that we have an idea of what to look for in a packaged snack, here are some go to items and ideas that I love!
- Nut or seed bars are great and a staple go to of mine. When looking at the label, aim for less than 10g – ideally less than 5g – of sugar per 100g. Also look for the least processed option, they will often be called ‘Whole Nut’ or ‘Whole Seed’ bars.
- Fruit is an obvious choice if it is available to you! Try and eat something else with your fruit so you are eating more than one food group.
- Quick snacks don’t have to be packaged on a shelf – a box of wholegrain crackers, or a couple of carrots and a tub of hummus is a good example of this!
- When looking at your crackers, always read the label and check they have more than 5g of fibre per 100g. Lots of crackers will say they are wholegrain or brown rice for example but there won’t be a trace of fibre!
- Bliss balls, protein balls and bars – just be wary of the ingredients. These can often be marketed as a healthy option, but are really treats in disguise! Look for wholefood options or those with a high protein and low sugar content.
- Packets of ready to eat chicken are awesome for when you’re stuck and starving! Handy for eating in the car also.
- Nuts – just not the roasted and salted kind, or those covered in chocolate for that matter! Go for either the natural or dry roasted variety.
- Larger supermarkets often have a fairly well stocked health food aisle. If you’re lucky enough to be near one of these, have a look next time you’re there – you might find something new and delicious to try! Things like roasted chickpeas, nut and seed mixes, bars and wholefood biscuits or crackers.
- Tubs of Natural or Greek yoghurt are handy – ask at the checkout or counter for a spoon too, you’ll often be in luck!
Do you have any go to snack options or hacks to share? I’m always on the lookout for new ideas! Please get in touch if you do, or have any questions – I love hearing from you!