100 Calorie Packs: Diet Break-Through or Dieting Disaster?

Heather Reese Health Guide
  • I admit it … I love 100-calorie-packs. And to my delight, every time I go to the grocery store there are more varieties. You can find virtually any pre-packaged snack food item in 100-calorie-packs – everything from crackers, popcorn, potato chips and pretzels to cakes, cookies and cupcakes … the options are endless and yummy. But as much as I love them, I understand that they don’t provide free reign to eat unnecessary calories.

     

    They should not become an addition to your diet; rather they should replace other higher-calorie snack foods. This is because 100-calorie-packs are not healthy snacks and they provide very few nutrients. In fact, they aren’t always lower in calories. In some cases, you could just as easily eat 100 calories worth of the original food item and probably feel more satisfied. For example, Nabisco offers 100-calorie-packs that contain baked Oreo Krisps, basically the chocolate cookie minus the creamy filling. You could choose to eat the Oreo Krisps or you could eat two Oreo cookie sandwiches, which provide 106 calories AND the creamy filling. The important question to ask yourself is: “Can I eat just 2 Oreos?”

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    The 100-calorie-packs are convenient, easy to pack in a lunch and they are the perfect portion control tool for bottom of the bag people. If you tend to continue eating until the food is gone than 100-calorie-packs are a great way to splurge without overindulging – as long as you don’t grab for another when you hit the bottom of the bag.

     

    But they should not take the place of healthy snacks like fruit. 100-calorie-packs are low in fiber and protein, so while they may satisfy a craving they aren’t likely to satisfy your hunger. And with very little time and planning you can put together your own 100 calorie snacks that are tasty, nutritious and filling. Here are some examples:

    • 1 cup of celery with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
    •  1 cup of carrots with 2 tablespoons of light ranch dressing
    • 6 ounces of light vanilla yogurt and 1 tablespoon of raisins
    • 1 large banana
    • 1 apple with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
    • 15 almonds
    • 2 ounces of lean turkey

    It is important to remember that while 100-calorie-packs help control portion sizes, they should not become a staple in your diet. There is a place for treats like these in a well-balanced diet but it is after you have met your nutrition needs with foods from the major food groups. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans allows for discretionary calories for foods that do not add nutritional value to your diet, and 100-calorie-packs would fall into this category. The number of discretionary calories that a person is allotted per day depends on their recommended daily calories. A person who should consume 2,000 calories per day is allotted 267 discretionary calories.

Published On: April 05, 2007