Everyone seems to be obsessed with the term “low calorie”. Companies market their product as a “low calorie” meal or snack, which as a result, leads consumers to believe they are buying a healthy product. Unfortunately for us, “low calorie” doesn’t mean that it is “healthy”! This concept is a huge misunderstanding that I would like to clear up for everyone.
When Low Calorie doesn’t mean Healthy
I went searching for what consumers thought was a great low calorie snack for weight loss. Here are some of the most common low calorie snacks consumers suggested to others, and my suggestions of healthy alternatives.
•JELL-O Brand Gelatin and Pudding Snacks- The low calorie snack packs make this product easy to consume on a daily basis, which is concerning once you read the label and see what ingredients are listed in the product. They may be labeled as sugar-free and fat-free, but there are tons of artificial sweeteners and unhealthy ingredients you just shouldn’t be putting into your body.
Alternative- You can make your own Pudding using Dr. Oetker’s Organic Pudding mix. You can make a small batch and divide it into small serving size containers to enjoy throughout the week. This product still contains sugar, but I think this is a better alternative than the snack packs mentioned above, but still should be used only in moderation.
•Quaker® Rice Cakes - What’s not healthy about a low calorie snack that is gluten free containing 9 grams of whole grains in it? Lots of sugar and corn syrup. Once you add the sugarand corn syrup (among other things) to the healthy ingredients, it’s no longer healthy.
Alternative- If you are looking for a yummy whole grain, check out Arrowhead Mills® Organic Puff cereals. You will find that there is only one ingredient in this product, just how it should be! They taste fantastic plain or with your choice of milk.
•Popcorn- These are usually full of ingredients that are anything but real butter. Lots of chemically altered ingredients and additives.
Alternative- Buy popcorn with nothing added or make it yourself.
•Frozen Desserts- Consumers recommended Sugar-Free Fudgsicles, Low-Fat Ice Cream Bars from The Skinny Cow®, and Sugar-Free Ice Pops. Notice a common theme here? Companies are selling frozen desserts in small quantities and replace the sugar and/or fat with even more harmful artificial ingredients and tell you that they are now healthy because they have fewer amounts of calories. Sadly, a lot of consumers fall for this gimmick.
Alternative- I love Organic Blackberry Sorbet Bars by Julie’s Organic. Natural ingredients with no sugar or artificial sweeteners added. You can also try making your own healthy desserts, such as frozen grapes!
•Dannon Light ‘n Fit Non-Fat Yogurt- This is made with Splenda®, and goes along the same line as the gelatin and pudding snacks.
Alternative- All Natural Yogurt or Greek Yogurt with no added ingredients.
•100 Calorie Snack Packs- These low calorie snack packs were highly suggested by consumers, mainly due to taste and because it’s a “mindless alternative”. You can choose from cookies, crackers, and chips. Low calorie? Yes. Healthy? Not one bit. The company just provided small portions that are prepackaged and sold as low calorie. These products are full of sugar, which creates fat in your midsection. Not something you should do for fat loss, right?
Alternative- There are plenty of healthy crackers or other snacks to much on, without all of the processed ingredients, additives, and preservatives.
•Fiber One® Chewy Bars- Consumers suggested this low calorie snack because they taste like a candy bar. Not surprised, considering these snacks contain a lot of sugar and high maltose corn syrup (a sneaky way of adding a cousin of “high fructose corn syrup” into products).
Alternative- Looking for a chewy bar that tastes delicious? Check out all of the Fruit and Nut Bars by LÄRABAR®. Most of the flavors are made with healthy ingredients, with only six ingredients or less. The Pecan Pie flavor, for example, only has three ingredients; dates, pecans, and almonds. You wouldn’t believe these are healthy and low calorie once you taste how delicious these bars are.
•Campbell’s® Healthy Request® Soup- The soup may only have 90 calories per serving, but with two servings per can, most people are going to eat more than one serving. 180 calories still isn’t all that bad, but considering there are 410 mg of sodium per serving, that means you would be consuming 820 mg of sodium in just one serving. This soup may be marketed as “Heart Healthy”, but that still doesn’t make this soup healthy for you. It’s crazy how marketing works sometimes.
Alternative- Make your own homemade soup. Even if you buy an Organic or All Natural Soup with very few ingredients (think Amy’s Kitchen soups), you are still going to find more sodium than you bargained for.
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Image Credits: arrowheadmills.com; larabarstore.com