Choosing healthier snacks is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  Unfortunately, sometimes you encounter situations when identifying healthy snacks is tricky, and sometimes your options can be limited, like when you find yourself face to face with a vending machine.

Before you assume there are no sensible choices and go for your usual candy bar or bag of Doritos, keep these tips in mind:

 

·        Some snacks have more than one serving per package.  Read the label to find out how many servings are in the package, and instead of eating the whole package, eat one serving and save the rest for another time.

 

·        Check for calorie counts on the front of the package.  Many snacks will tell you how many calories are in an item before you purchase it, so you can make the best snack choice for your needs.

 

·        Vending machine snacks made from whole foods are the healthiest choice.  Seek out nuts, seeds, and dried fruits like raisins, or trail mix.  Granola bars, whole grain cereal bars, and whole grain crackers can also be a healthier choice than traditional cookies or chips.

 

·        Remember that sweets from vending machines often contain trans fats, which should be avoided.  If you want something sweet, opt for granola bars, or even sugar free gum, which can curb your sweet tooth without adding calories to your day.  If you're looking for candy, fruit snacks are lower in calories and usually have less than 15 grams of sugar per serving.

 

·        Some vending machines participate in healthy marketing programs.  Look for stickers, signs, or other indicator of your vending machine's healthier choices.  A word of caution, sometimes snacks that aren't healthy can be stocked in the healthy snack places.  If you see a chocolate bar with a healthy sticker next to it, use your best judgment before you assume that candy must be healthy.

 

·        Baked chips and snacks are common items in vending machines, and are lower in fat than fried chips.  Be aware of your portion size, and remember that baked chips are not much lower in calories than fried chips so they should still be eaten in moderation.

 

·        Vending machines may have a limited selection of healthy beverage choices.  Of course, your healthiest choice is bottled water, but you may also find teas made with less sugar, or 100% fruit juices that are more wholesome choices than soda.  Remember, just because a beverage is made with natural ingredients, doesn't mean it's lower in calories or sugar than traditional sodas.  

 

·        If you do select a sweet beverage like fruit juice, be aware of the portion size.  Many bottled beverages have more than 2 servings per bottle, and you can quickly overdo it on calories and sugar if you're not careful.  Always look at the nutrition facts label to know how what you're actually drinking.