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Wednesday, 13 October 2010

"Healthy" snacks

I'm seeing so many more products on the shelves -- here in Europe and the UK and in the USA that are being advertised and marketed as 'healthy snacks'. Often, thankfully, these items ARE better, nutritionally, than most other of the conventional snacks that people have been noshing on for years, but I feel it's important to give some information and perspective on what to choose.

If you are a person who is fit and active, whatever you're eating is working for you. You are the folks who have an inherent ability to self-regulate, habitually, and probably are choosing many of these 'healthy' items and not eating them as if they are 'free foods' -- that is, because they are 'healthy' you eat copious amounts of them. You are the people who CAN snack on nuts and dried fruits -- foods that are very high in kcalories and, for nuts, fat, BECAUSE they ARE healthy when they are eaten in SMALL amounts, which, of course, fit, active people do naturally. Nuts and dried fruits are NOT good choices for obese people UNLESS they really and truly make a concerted effort to LIMIT the portions and overall amounts to scant handfuls. I can't tell you how many clients I see who cannot seem to shift their pounds, even while exercising, who finally fess up about 'snacking' on nuts and dried fruits "like the other people in the gym and their personal trainer does".

People who need to lose weight need to be snacking on fresh fruit and vegetables, fat-free or low-fat yogurts, whole-grain cereal bars, perhaps dried beans/seeds. So, now we get to the new products, like cereal bars and dried beans/seeds. These are, indeed. great choices for aspiring weight/fat-losers, BUT, I recommend choosing the products that are NO MORE than 150+/- 20 kcalories, 22 gms carbohydrate, and 5 gms of fat PER serving! When snacks PER SERVING go over these rough guidelines, then you are getting into MEAL kcals, carb, and fat amounts. I would also HIGHLY recommend that any snacks you choose contain at least about 4 gms of protein per serving and better if more. It IS tough to find products with that amount of protein, but if you can find something, go for it. These would be the snack size yogurts and fat-free/low-fat cheese strings, for example. But, it's also great to mix up snacking with high-fiber containing items, like the Kellogg's Fiber-Plus cereal bars. The Kellogg's Bliss bars are probably better for weight/fat-losers, but the Fiber-Plus bars are perfectly allowed IF they are not eaten 2-3 at a time. Only ONE per day.

It's very important to use your good, common sense about snacking. You KNOW these products are meant to be regulated even though they suggest that they can be eaten 'freely'. And I commend food companies for producing these fine-tasting alternatives, but with all due respect to the food companies -- they don't REALLY care if YOU eat copious amounts of their low-fat/fat-free. low-kcalorie, high fiber, low sat-fat foods -- it's more business for them!

Don't fool and undermine yourselves. Choose these products wisely and in such a way as to AIDE you in the struggle to lose and keep weight/fat off. I love that these products are now available and that more options are coming out on the shelves every day. But, use my guidelines (above) to help you keep your selections HELPFUL, not IMPEDIMENTS to all your hard work and great intentions.

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