Thursday, August 27, 2009

100 Calorie Snack Packs--Thinning On Your Wallet or Your Waist?

A few years ago 100 calorie snack packs hit grocery store shelves. The explosive demand for 100 calorie snack packs has generated nearly 200 million in sales last year alone. Selections range from crackers pretzels, chips, pudding to yogurt. But are the manufacturers thinning our wallet or our waist? You decide.

You're paying for the extra packaging! With a full bag of pretzels, the cost is about 17 cents an ounce as compared with a 100-calorie snack pack, that same pretzel cost nearly 40 cents an ounce. Single-use packaging also means more waste for the environment.

Are they really a healthy choice? I recently purchased an assortment of 100 calorie snacks. The first thing I noticed was that there wasn't much in each package. Upon reading nutrition facts labels many are free of trans-fats and low in sugar, but don't confuse them with a nutritious snack. Most are highly processed, and not nearly as good for you as fresh fruits and vegetables. Plus, 100 calorie snack packs don't always taste exactly like their regular counterparts. That said, some 100-calorie packs do contain less fat and sugar than regular cookies and crackers. Just remember while junk food may satisfy your craving, it does little to satiate your hunger. But for those times when only a cookie will do and you are faced with a full-size version of your favorite indulgence and weak willpower, then a 100 calorie snack maybe what you need.

What is a healthy 100 calorie snack? Look for choices that will satisfy your hunger and meet your nutritional needs. To keep your appetite in check, make sure your snacks include a bit of protein, fiber, carbohydrate, and fat.

Fatten your wallet and thin your waist! Prepare your own 100-calorie snacks built around foods you like to eat. Read nutritional fact labels on foods to determine the appropriate serving size for 100 calories.

The following are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Half an apple with 2 teaspoons of peanut butter
  • An orange and a few dry-roasted nuts
  • 10 almonds
  • 3 ounces low-fat cottage cheese and 3 whole-wheat crackers
  • 1/4 cup fat-free ranch dressing with mixed raw veggies
  • 6 Wheat Thins crackers with two teaspoons of peanut butter (or any nut butter)
  • 1/2 cup frozen orange juice, eaten as sorbet
  • 3 handfuls of unbuttered popcorn, seasoned with herbs
  • 4-6 ounces of no-fat or low-fat yogurt
  • Half a "finger" of string cheese with 4 whole-wheat crackers

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