When you’re trying to make smart snacking decisions, the best tool you have at your disposal is information. Often, people consume far more calories than they realize in a portion of their diet that is supposed to be purely supplemental. Here’s the skinny — or not so skinny — on some popular snacks:
- Potato Chips
Crunchy Calories: Approximately 160 calories per 1-ounce serving.
The Takeaway: 160 calories may not sound like too much, and it isn’t (it takes about 45 minutes of walking to burn that off). The problem is that it’s very difficult to limit yourself to a single serving size of chips.
- Cheese and Crackers
Combined Calories: Approximately 200 calories, depending on varieties.
The Takeaway: Both the caloric and nutritional values of cheese and crackers can vary widely depending on the choices you make. If you’re dieting, choose low-fat cheeses and multigrain crackers, and be sure to check serving sizes on the packages before you dig in.
Green Calories: Approximately 100 calories in a quarter-cup scoop.
The Takeaway: Avocado is fairly fatty, meaning that the calories in guacamole add up fast as you’re snacking (one “serving” is about the size of a golf ball). The thing to keep in mind, however, is that avocado contains a healthy kind of fat, so it’s better to get the same number of calories from avocado than from most kinds of snack foods.
- Hummus Dips
Creamy Calories: Approximately 50 calories in a 2-tablespoon serving.
The Takeaway: Hummus itself is reasonably low in calories; it also contains a healthy amount of protein, which can help you to feel fuller and snack less overall. When most people snack on hummus, however, they have several hundred calories’ worth of pita or chips with it. So if you’re really interested in cutting back, dip carrot sticks instead.
- Pico de Gallo Salsa Dips
Fresh Salsa Calories: Approximately 10 calories per 2-tablespoon serving.
The Takeaway: Salsa nutritional facts are about as encouraging as any snack’s can get, and that’s true for pico de gallo salsa dips in particular (since these fresh salsas don’t contain sugar or the corn and beans included in Southwestern salsa recipes, for example). Again, the bulk of snacking calories associated with salsa come from eating it with fried chips, so it’s smarter to dip veggies or use salsa to go in recipes for some extra flavor.
Did any of these snack facts surprise you? Share your reactions in the comments.