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The Power of 100 Calories


The Power of 100 Calories  By Susan Garkalns

Snacks are an important part of a weight management program and an important part of a healthful diet.  Too many snack foods are low in nutrients and high in calories from sugar, fat or both. Choosing the wrong snacks often becomes nothing more than consumption of empty calories. The keys to snacking lite are planning ahead and portion control.

Snacking is important for several reasons:

▪   Snacks can assure that you eat enough food to provide the nutrients you need.

▪   Snacks are a way to get your five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables.

▪   Snacks can keep you from being hungry and prevent your body's metabolism from adapting to a starvation mode.

▪   Snacks can help you prevent overeating because you do not get as hungry before meal times.

▪   Snacks are enjoyable and can be part of a well designed eating pattern and weight  management program. 

Another way to look at snacking is that you are eating food that you need to eat anyway.  You just don't eat all the food you could have at one meal and save something for later.  Think about it as having five or six small meals instead of three large meals.

Everyone has those unexplainable cravings for something sweet, salty or chocolate from time to time.  That's perfectly natural.  The best way to handle these cravings is to satisfy them without over-doing it—practice portion control.  An occasional 100-calorie splurge will not ruin a weight management program.  Listed below are some sweet, salty and chocolate snacking ideas for 100 calories.  It is obvious that some of the suggestions are healthier than others so choose wisely and splurge occasionally.

Sweet Snacks                                     Salty Snacks                                        Chocolate                                (100 Calories)                                     (100 Calories)                                    (100 Calories)

4 large marshmallows              2 cups oil-popped popcorn            1 fun sized candy bar                              1 cup grapes                             10 potato chips                                    ½ cup pudding skim milk 1 ounce  jelly beans                                 25 thin pretzels                                    2 squares choc. graham crackers        ½ medium cantaloupe               3 slices crisp bacon                         4 Hershey Kisses®                                 1 cup strawberries                          with 3 saltines                                1 Klondike Lite Bar®            

To make it convenient for consumers, food manufacturers have made snacking easy by introducing the 100-calorie snack pack.  Chips, cookies, crackers, popcorn, yogurt and even soft drinks are available in these smaller sizes. The selection is extensive as more than 100 of these products now line your grocer's shelves.  Food manufacturers may simply be putting 100-calories's worth of the original product into a smaller package much like you could choose to do at home using little plastic bags.

Better examples of real food 100-calorie snacks packed with good nutrition are a high fiber apple, orange or banana or a few tablespoons of nuts or sunflower seeds.  For a high protein snack enjoy a small container of creamy non-fat yogurt or pudding but keep the added sugar in check.  On a cold day a cup of sugar-free cocoa mix made with skim milk can be very satisfying, particularly for those who love chocolate.  For a chewy snack have a small handful of dried fruit in place of candy.

Because we are a grab-and-go and eat-on-the-run society, be realistic but be prepared.  It is not a bad idea to keep pre-packaged 100-calorie snacks on hand for emergency munching: (i.e. to help you get past a sudden craving if you do not happen to have fresh fruit on hand). Why undo several weeks or months of building healthy habits with an uncontrollable urge to eat?

Relying on pre-packaged goodies as part of your daily diet isn't the best idea if they are nothing more than tasty little packages of refined sugar and saturated fat. On the other hand if you choose 100-calorie snacks that offer some protein and fiber and minimal sugar and fat, you may be doing your body a healthy favor.


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