Most vending machines are stocked full of junk food. With a bit of planning it is possible to replace those snacks with foods that will nourish your body.
The challenge is to balance convenience with nutrition.
Here is a pictorial guide to a selection of healthy snacks - and remember - healthy eating is not just about the number of calories*.
Serving shown: 20 almonds
Serving shown: 30g / ~1oz
Serving shown: 40g / 1.4oz
Note: Dried fruits are more calorie dense (per weight) than fresh fruit - and are easier to overeat.
Serving shown: 180g, 1 medium & 1 small.
Note: Great packaging. Small portions. Seasonal
Serving shown: 185g / 6.5oz
Serving shown: 1 medium banana - 118g
Note: Nicely prepackaged.
Serving shown: 215g / 7.6oz
Serving shown: 85g / 3oz
Note: Be wary of tuna in oil - many of the oils are vegetable oils (high in omega-6 rather than omega-3 EFA's).
Serving shown: 25g / .9oz
Note: Find in bulk bins - often with different seasonings.
Serving shown: 2 cups
Calories: 62 (air-popped)
No condiments added.
Note: Avoid pre-packaged popcorn (often contains trans fat).
Serving shown: 170g / 6oz
Note: Convenient - can buy pre-washed and pre-bagged.
Serving shown: 40g / 1.4oz hummus
Note: Buy celery pre-cut and pre-washed. Goes well with many other dips.
Serving shown: 150g / 1 Cup
Serving shown: 1 cracker + ~45g (1.5oz) cottage cheese (light)
Note: Aim for crispbreads or crackers that are completely whole grain and have a minimal amount of oil.
80g / 2.8oz
All fruits are great - however many have a very short season (berries, peaches, nectarines) and others can be a bit too messy if you are at work (grapefruit, oranges, melon).
*It's Not Just About Calories
Some snacks may be low in calories, but lack in other essential nutrients. Some snacks do nothing to satisfy the appetite. What's the point in saving 20 calories just to be gnawingly hungry 15 minutes later? No vending machine will be safe from you...
Not Everyone Needs to Snack
For some people - three square meals works fine. For others, snacking is a way of life - and without a little pre-planning - most of those snacks will not be the best choices.
Snacking is a great way to maintain even energy levels and manage hunger and prevent bingeing.
Building Positive Habits
Snacking is habit forming. Switch out bad food choices for good ones - and before you know it - your 3 hourly pilgrimage to the vending machine will be a thing of the past.
NOTE: All items were carefully weighed and measured. Calorie amounts came from theUSDA nutrient database or from labels.