Food is everywhere — samples at the supermarket, doughnuts by the office coffee machine, brownies at the PTA meeting. As an impulsive eater, it’s almost impossible to resist another handful of your coworker’s jelly beans. So, how can you tame your impulse to indulge, especially when the offerings are free?
If you start mindlessly munching on a bag of chips around 4 PM when your stomach starts growling, it’s time to reassess your snacking habits. Don’t be surprised to find out that some of your favorite “diet” foods aren’t that diet-worthy! Here, we uncover the truth about those snack foods you can’t keep your hands off of!
Vegetable chips: Sure, they sound wholesome, but veggie chips — like those made from carrots or veggie extracts — won’t get you a single mouthful closer to your five-a-day fruit and vegetable goal. Better to munch on whole-grain crackers (make sure the first ingredient contains the word “whole,” followed by “wheat,” “grain,” “oats,” or “rice”) to ensure that your munchies provide the antioxidants and phytochemicals found in whole-grain foods.
Baked crackers: True, baked chips have less fat and calories than their fried counterparts, but not all baked things are low-fat. Case in point: brownies and cookies! Though crackers may be baked, they’re sometimes generously flavored with fat before they go in the oven. Tip: Look for a low-fat variety and stick with the recommended serving size to keep calories in check.
Air-popped popcorn: If you’re purchasing prepackaged air-popped popcorn, watch out! Some brands are fat-free, while others are sprayed with lots of fat after popping, so calories can rival greasy potato chips. If you can’t air-pop in your own popper, try making a light butter-flavored variety in your microwave.
Banana chips: The word “chip” should raise a red flag! These crunchy banana slices are deep-fried, often in artery-clogging saturated fat. Not quite the serving of fruit you bargained for! Instead, try a handful of dried fruit, like raisins, dried plums, or dried apricots, which count as a serving toward your five-a-day goal.