In an ideal world everything we put in our body would be whole food based and prepared by us. Cue the collective eye role. We definitely don’t live in an ideal world that always permits us the time to prepare every morsel that goes down the hatch. We are, however very fortunate to live in a world where people, just like you and I are becoming increasingly conscious of the importance of eating real, unprocessed foods. This mindset shift has given birth to many new companies that see the importance of eating whole foods, but also understand the reality that sometimes we need the convenience of packaged foods when on the run or simply lacking time.
I have created this guide to help you select store bought snacks that are whole food based, can be part of a lean eating lifestyle, and lastly to expose you to some of the great companies that make convenient real food snacks.
4 things to be aware of when purchasing snack products
1) Added sugar:
The best snack products have little to no added sugar in them. Most will have some added sugar, but look on the ingredient list for what postition the sugar is in on the ingredient list. The first ingredient on a list is the one that has the highest quantity within that particular product. It is better to select sugars added in closer to the end of the list.
A helpful hint to know if an ingredient is a sugar, is if the word ends with an “ose” or an “ol”. For example sucrose, glucose, malitol. Also, syrups or nectars are sugars.
If you want to delve deeper into all the different kinds of sugars you may find on packaged foods I have found a list of “57 sneaky sugars”.
2) Preservatives, chemicals, fillers aka bullshit.
These are all chemicals that are foreign to you and your body has to detoxify them. No need to burden your liver.
There is so much to delve into here, so I am going to give you the no-nonsense information you need to smartly avoid these.
If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, or it sounds like it came out of a science lab, it probably did. Avoid it.
3) Misleading advertising terms (and what they mean)
All natural: is an extremely loose term. Typically a product will use this term if it doesn’t contain food dyes, artificial flavours or synthetic chemicals. These are only 3 of many potential synthetic items that could be found in these products. You’ll probably still find artificial sweeteners, added sugar, genetically modified food items, preservatives and more.
Fat-free: Translates to increased sugar to compensate for lack of flavour from fat.
Sugar-free: Translates to the use of artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose and acesulfame-potassium.
Sugar-free/fat-free: What the heck is left in the “food” at this point? The real question is can we still call it a food at this point? NO.
What labels are meaningful:
- Certified organic: Absolutely no chemicals or synthetic materials.
- Non-GMO: No genetically modified foods.
- No artificial sweeteners (but still read the ingredient list to be sure)
- Fair trade: No unfair labour involved in the manufacturing of the product.
4) Proteins, fats, sugar and fibre!
Look on the nutrient panel of a snack item. A snack is best when it contains proteins, healthy fats, carbs and fibre with a low amount of sugar.
Guidelines for nutrients in a healthy snack item:
Protein: Aim for 3 grams or higher
Fat: 15 grams or under (don’t be scared of healthy fats, they slow down sugar from spiking your insulin and leading to fat being stored in your body).
Sugar: Ideally 10 grams or under
Fibre: Aim for 3 grams or higher
If you follow these guidelines (or slightly outside) you will be ensuring that your body is receiving all of the nutrients it needs to actually be satiated by that particular snack and your blood sugar levels will stay balanced.
3 packaged snack products that meet and exceed all my criteria:
These cookies are insanely delicious, are certified organic and are 100% whole food based. When you eat these cookies you can rest assured that you don’t have to worry about any of the nonsense I mentioned above.
They come in three different flavours: Chocolate cashew, lemon coconut and vanilla almond. My fav is chocolate cashew, but the lemon coconut comes in at a close second.
Enjoy two of these cookies at a time for optimal lean-ness. These guys are small, but pack a lot of nutrients in a small package and will certainly keep you full for a couple hours!
Neal Bros Organic blue corn with flax tortilla chips
These are my absolute favourite tortilla chips in the world. The best thing about them is that there are only three ingredients and no BS. This is a truly whole food snack.
For optimal lean-ness enjoy 15-20 of these with a bowl of Neal Bros. Organic Salsa. They’re also great on my taco salad.
Enerjive quinoa skinny crackers
These crackers come in 5 different flavours to suit your mood, whether you’re looking for savoury or sweet. My favourite are the Chocolate FIX crackers. They are delicious on their own or can be enjoyed with a teaspoon of almond butter.
For optimal lean-ness enjoy 3 skinny crackers.