And the Winner Is: How Do You Score With Your Snack Choices?

Reviewed by Abby C. Sauer, MPH, RD, LD

You've just finished a meeting and missed your lunch. You race into the break room and head straight to the vending machine. While those crunchy cheese crackers look inviting, with a little planning you can make winning choices by bringing prepared foods from home.

Apples vs. Cookies

A chocolate chip cookie might seem like a great quick fix, but an apple has less than 100 calories. The cookie has more than 300 calories and almost 300 mg of sodium. Plus, the apple's natural sugar won't give you an artificial "sugar high" that will make you hungrier later on.

Carrots vs. Chips

Ounce for ounce, carrots have more crunch and fewer calories than salty chips. With a "normal" serving of chips weighing in at more than 400 calories, compared to about 30 calories for carrots, you get more punch — and less paunch — with these tasty veggies.

Angel Food Cake vs. Muffins

What could be healthier than a blueberry muffin? As it turns out, plenty. There's not enough fruit in a blueberry muffin to overcome the damage from 300 calories and 14 grams of fat. If you want a baked treat, try angel food cake — an average slice is only 180 calories and 0 grams of fat.

Make It Easy to Snack Sensibly

The easiest way to make healthy food choices is to make it easy to choose.

Have a snack or occasional meal replacement, such as Ensure® Shakes, handy in the fridge.

  • Buy cut-up fruits and veggies in prepackaged bags to carry with you.
  • Keep a package of dried fruit in your desk.
  • Stash a jar of peanut butter nearby for a great, protein-rich dip for fruits or veggies.
  • Choose whole-grain snack chips, microwave popcorn, or ready-to-eat, whole-grain cereals.

For great tips on making healthy snack choices, visit www.mypyramid.gov and the American Heart Association® "virtual vending machine"at http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml;jsessionid=J5M0I0NFXHFGCCQFCXQCCZQ?identifier=3025842.

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