Pack your own smarter bites
If you think two 100-calorie snack packs a day equals the perfect no-cheat diet, let’s rework the equation. “For someone who is cutting calories, a snack of 100-150 calories once or twice a day is appropriate,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, author of Feed the Belly. “The snack packs can be a great, easy way to control portions of snacks that people tend to go overboard on, but there are other healthy options.”
In other words, those petite packets of chips, cookies, and other junk food are ideal for the occasions when you have, say, a Chex Mix craving that nothing less can satisfy. It’s certainly better to preempt any accidental overeating by planning ahead with a no-nonsense pre-portioned pack. But that one bag is still 100 empty calories of processed junk. It won’t kill you when you have a craving, but on the regular you can do better. Take fruit, for example. “Fruit is perfectly portion-controlled!” she says. “An apple, orange, pear, or banana comes in its own biodegradable package and is generally under 100 calories.”
To keep energy and blood sugar steady, you want to aim for a combination of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats, Largeman-Roth says. Good luck finding much more than carbs, sodium, and sugar in those processed snacks. The good news is you have infinite options for snacks that do clock in around 100 calories and also provide nutrients your body needs to function, fiber to make them filling, and none of the nasty stuff like high-fructose corn syrup.
“Create your own calorie-controlled snacks!” she says. “You can either use zip-top snack-size bags or better yet, the reusable kind.” Here are enough healthy 100-calorie snacks to get you through the work week.
- 7 walnuts
- 25 pistachios
- 3 cups air-popped popcorn + little sea salt + a tiny drizzle of truffle oil
- 1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt + 1/3 cup fresh mango cubes
- 1 small apple + 1 teaspoon almond butter
- 1 Mini Babybel Light cheese + 1 whole-grain Wasa cracker
- 5 spears of broccoli + 2 tablespoons hummus
- 25 frozen grapes
- 1/2 cup oatmeal + 5 sliced strawberries
- 2 cups kale chips