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How to Snack Smart

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It’s 3pm. Lunch has worn off. It’s two and a half hours to dinner. You grab a dollar and head for the vending machine looking for a “healthy” snack to see you through until dinner is on the table. Not so fast.

Pretzels

Pretzels are good because they aren’t fried and aren’t covered in artificial flavors so they must be healthy, right? Wrong. A serving of pretzels packs more calories than you’d think, plus refined carbohydrates and tons of sodium. Registered dietician Elisa Zied says that pretzels don’t leave you satisfied for very long. She says to swap out pretzels for a whole-grain, high-fiber cereal mixed with two tablespoons of nuts.


Chips

The full fat versions are obviously a no no, but the baked versions are also not very good, either. They’re better than the fried versions, but registered dietician Samantha Cassety of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute suggests trying edamame. Edamame is just a fancy way to say boiled green soybeans, and they’re actually really good. If you’re looking for crunch, just a quarter cup serving of dry roasted edamame packs 14 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber. Pita chips should also never pass your lips. Registered dietitian Karen Ansel, a spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that they’re straight carbohydrates and it’s going to leave you feeling fine for a while, but they will spike your blood sugar and lead to a crash later. Instead, she suggests muching on raw veggies with a small amount of hummus.


Apple Slices

Yes, apples are great. They’re full of fiber and vitamins, but they’re better when paired with another food. Samatha Cassety suggests mixing it up a bit with some non fat Greek yogurt, some sort of nut butter, or a serving of some sort of a protein like cheese. Laughing Cow is my favorite, although, string cheese is good for you and fun to eat.


Smoothies

When you’re out and about and need something but don’t want to buy a fast snack from the food court, so your next choice is a smoothie, try again. Sure, smoothies contain fruit and juice, but registered dietician and author Keri Gans says that they’re mostly just sugar and that’s going to make you crash later. Instead, try green tea. Karen Ansel says that green tea has antioxidants and lots of vitamins, but it also contains amino acids that rev up your concentration and alertness. I’m a fan of green tea hot or iced with some mint or lemon mixed in. It feels good on my throat and it’s refreshing.

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