How to Replace Out-and-About Snacks with Healthier Options

When you’re out and about, you can forget all the rules of nutritional wellness. Whether you’re snacking on popcorn at the cinema, or sharing a bag of chips with your friends, those treats can be really damaging to your wellbeing. So let’s take a look at a few healthier alternatives.


1. Nachos: According to Laura Cipullo, RD, owner of Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services in New York City, while there are more than 1,000 calories in a standard serving of nachos, your bigger issue is the additives; each crisp is brimming with salt, and the cheese is more chemical than cow. In order to qualify as a “processed cheese food” the product only has to be composed of 51% cheese. Instead of noshing on nachos, wellness writer K. Aleisha Fetters recommends a soft pretzel. ‘Granted you don’t dip it in that gnarly cheese, a soft pretzel contains roughly 450 calories,’ she say. ‘Make it healthier by skipping on sodium: Ask for a salt-free pretzel or at least brush some of the salt from the top. If you feel the need to dip, grab a packet of mustard. You’ll actually score some potassium, phosphorous, and magnesium.’


2. Hard Lemonade: ‘Hard lemonade is high in carbs, alcohol, and calories,’ warns nutritionist Monica Reinagel, LN, CNS. ‘Plus the sweet taste makes it easier to swill these down.’ Fetters adds, ‘When you down massive amounts of sugar with your booze, your liver can’t handle both and lets your body store the calories as a type of fat called triglycerides. They congregate in the cells around your belly, the unhealthiest and most unflattering place to pack on pounds.’ Funnily enough, beer is a much healthier option! Fetters explains, ‘Besides being lower in calories and sugar, recent Japanese research found that hops’ naturally occurring flavonoids promote muscle mass. They also reduce your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Beer is also rich in B vitamins, magnesium, and calcium, which can up your overall health and promote energy. Just remember not to overdo it. All you need is one to reap the benefits.’


3. Candy Floss: Fetters notes, ‘While it’s surprisingly low-cal (about 300 calories a bag), it’s pretty much just sugar. One three-ounce bag contains about 71,000 milligrams of the sweet stuff – that’s more than 80 percent of your daily-recommended allowance. And none of those sugars are from natural sugars; they are all added…If you are in need of a sugar fix, you might as well get some protein with it. Most non-fat original or plain varieties [of frozen yoghurt] (typically the lowest-calorie flavour) contain about 90 calories and three grams of protein per half cup. As long as you top it with fruit – and not candy – you’ll do okay.’


4. Popcorn: ‘While the air popped variety packs more fibre than brown rice and more antioxidants than fruit and veggies, what you get [when you’re out] is pretty much a health offender,’ says Fetters. ‘The stuff is cooked in oil, butter flavouring, and loads of salt, which keeps you slurping down calorie-filled drinks refill after refill. And so much for sharing: In one Cornell study, people with large buckets of popcorn ate about twice as much as those who had medium buckets – even when the researchers filled some of them with two-week-old kernels.’ For an alternative, Cipullo recommends Cracker Jacks. She notes, ‘One half cup only contains about 120 calories and since Cracker Jacks contain peanuts as well, you are getting monounsaturated fats and vitamin E.’


5. Chips: ‘Whether they are plain or topped with Parmesan cheese, they can easily come with more than 1,000 calories,’ Fetters asserts. ‘They are also pretty much pure, fried carbs, so they speed through your system, spiking your blood sugar and shooting up your hunger factor.’ Instead, try snacking on peanuts. Fetters points out, ‘Low in carbs and high in protein, peanuts are also full of healthy monounsaturated fat.’

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