Snack Smart

Last month, I purchased a package of 2- and 4-ounce containers, perfect for holding serving sizes of vegetables, nuts, and so forth. I’d had a bunch of similar containers in these sizes when my daughters were babies; I used them for their homemade baby food, and the four-ouncers were the perfect size for mixing baby cereal.

These small, square containers are just as perfect as their circular Tupperware counterparts for everything we like them for. Not only are they the perfect size, but, being reusable, we don’t have to burn through single-use plastic bags. The 2-ounce containers have been absolutely perfect for taking snacks when I have to sit around the community college while my teen is in class.

I didn’t think I would need a snack. A good breakfast should tie me over to lunch at home, or so I thought on her first class day in January. But by the time my teen started her last class of the day, my breakfast was history and I was getting hangry. Luckily, there was a poptart in the car leftover from the teen’s breakfast, and it took care of the immediate need, but no way could I wisely eat a 200-calorie, low-nutrient snack every day.

Around this same time, we discovered the German grocery chain Lidl with its brand-new, shiny store not far from the places in Wilmington where we often go. The first time we visited, almonds were on sale, so I grabbed some. In accordance with my fitness goals, while almonds aren’t my top snack choice, they fit in perfectly – much better than toaster pastries, that’s for sure!

Two ounces of m&m’s versus two ounces of almonds

I decided to do my own little comparison. Each of these containers holds two ounces. The container on the left is holding two servings of yummy dark chocolate m&m’s, coming in at 280 calories. The container on the right is holding one serving of raw almonds at 190 calories. Sure, those m&m’s look good – and everyone who knows me knows about my recovering m&m addiction. However, nutrition-wise, they’re just not worth the calorie hit. That container of delicious Ms contains 280 calories, 12 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fats, and only 2 grams of protein. Yes, there are carbs and sugars in them, as well, of course, but for the sake of comparison, I’m focusing on the nutrients I want in a snack. The container of almonds, on the other hand, has 190 calories, 17 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat (means the majority of those fats are healthy unsaturated ones), and 7 grams of protein. The almonds pack a healthy little punch. They satisfy me until we get home, and on our long days, those days we’re gone from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., half gets me to lunch and half with a piece of fruit gets me to dinner with a workout in between.

The first take-away I want to share is, plan to be hungry. Expect to get hungry and plan for that with a healthy snack. That first day of classes, I hadn’t planned so I hadn’t prepared. I ended up grabbing a pop tart out of desperation, and while tasty, it is loaded with tons of calories and sugars but not much else to contribute to a balanced diet. That certainly isn’t a long-term option.

The second take-away is, decide ahead of time what you’ll take. Consider portion sizes and nutritional benefits. The Ms are scrumptious (can you tell I’m missing them?), but the carb crash would have me hungry again in under an hour. There are just as many ounces of almonds, but they will hold me for at least two hours.

When making the healthy coastal lifestyle work for you, be mindful of how you snack. Not planning your snack will leave you grabbing the first thing you can grab, and that usually leads to a straight carb hit.