Smart snacking tips — or are they?

When I first stumbled upon this WebMD article about snacking, I thought I was going to love it. One of the first things they mention is that we need to shift our thinking about snacking being a bad thing. As a lifelong snacker (and someone with a very high metabolism), I loved that this was being addressed. What we need to do is redefine snacks; not chips, fries, candy bars, but healthy pick-me-ups for nutrition and energy throughout the day.

Then I began to get into the heart of the article, and my confidence that healthy snack tips would really be provided began to waiver. Some ideas for healthy crunchy snacks were reduced fat triscuits, kettle chips, and tortilla chips. Mostly all fried, definitely all processed and pretty much deoid of nutrition.

The actual snacking tips are helpful — things like reading labels and thinking about what you are looking for in an energy bar and definitely avoiding trans fats.

But to me, snacks are more than just “getting the munch on.” It is about boosting your day’s overall nutrition, getting sustained energy for a fast-paced lifestyle and finding new opportunities to eat whole foods. That’s why most of the recommended snacks just don’t fit my needs. They are almost all reduced fat, which is something I don’t believe in. When you take a whole food and remove the natural fats (say in low-fat yogurt) you are changing the nutritional synergy. They also use a lot of processed foods such as bottled pizza sauce (most likely high in sodium) and deli meats (full of nitrites/nitrates). They don’t have to be bad, but the article never addresses that they are certain brands you can buy to avoid the chemicals in deli meats, nor do they talk about the importance of buying organic vegetables and dairy products, to avoid pesticides and bovine growth hormone.

Is all the advice bad? Heck no, and the article is still worth reading, just with that grain of salt. They recommend whole grains, almonds and dried fruit (although they don’t mention that you have to be careful to find dried fruits without sulfites and added sugars) and have some tasty ideas.

Fellow Kristin Scott has written about her favorite healthy snacks, which are a lot healthier than most of the recommendations in the WebMD article. And some of my favorite snacks? Baby carrots dipped in raw tahini or homemade hummus, organic apples dipped in raw almond butter and smoothies made with a variety of fruits, good fats (throw in a dollop of unrefined coconut oil or flax seed oil), organic whole milk yogurt and of course a little vanilla extract for the yum factor.

Author by Debra McDuffee