Many people grab snacks without considering food quality. But there are healthy vending options.
Step 1: Choose a snack Do you want something salty? Crunchy? Sweet? Decide which type of snack you're craving to make sure your choice will satisfy you.
Step 2: Pick a slim salty If it's salt you're after, go for peanuts or beef jerky. Though high in calories, nuts provide the good kind of fat, monounsaturated, and their protein will make you feel fuller longer. Beef jerky is also high in protein. Just be aware that that both treats are also high in sodium.
Step 3: Munch this crunch Want something crunchy? Pretzels are a low-fat, low-calorie choice, though they may not keep you feeling full for very long because of their high carb content. Or get a single-serving bag of light popcorn or a package of cheese crackers; the former contains fiber and the latter has no trans fat. If you can't live without potato chips, look for baked ones.
Step 4: Select a sweet To satisfy a sweet tooth, look for low-fat cookies, licorice, fruit-flavored candy, or a fruit snack. Though high in sugar, they're low in fat. Avoid the chocolate mini-doughnuts; there's nothing mini about the 600 calories and 36 grams of fat some brands are packing!
TIP: Trail mix, which combines nuts and dried fruit, is a good choice if you're craving salty and sweet.
Step 5: Sink your teeth into a "candy bar" Craving a candy bar? See if there's a Payday, one of the few candy bars that gets a thumbs-up from some nutritionists because it's loaded with nuts. If not, go for an energy or protein bar. Though most are little better than candy bars, they do offer a slight nutritional advantage.
TIP: If you want M&M's, choose peanut over regular so you get some of the good fat in the nuts.
Step 6: Look for 100-calorie packs Not sure what you want? Try one of the 100-calorie pack options so that, whatever you choose, you'll limit the damage to your waistline.
Step 7: Advocate healthy snacks If your workplace has a vending machine, ask the employee in charge of ordering refills to consider providing more healthy choices, like dried fruit or whole-wheat chips or pretzels.
FACT: Americans eat 2 billion pounds of potato chips annually.