It’s 4 p.m. and your stomach is grumbling. It’s been a few hours since lunch but it’s not quite time for dinner, so you dash to the vending machine for some much-needed sustenance. Before you is an array of salty and sweet options that would quiet your hunger pangs, but some of them will wreak more havoc on your waistline and overall health than others.
Out of panic and hunger you choose the first sickeningly sweet but familiar thing you see (we’re looking at you, Butterfinger) only to realize it’s packed with empty calories and nearly an entire day’s worth of sugar. Talk about a diet fail.
To prevent you from making poor choices at the vending machine, we’ve listed five snacks you should avoid at all costs, along with five suggestions of what to indulge in instead. These simple swaps are totally doable, and will save you hundreds of calories and dozens of grams of sugar, fat, and more in the long run. Speaking of smart choices, check out these 15 Healthy Breakfast Ideas that will help you start your day off right!
Eat This: Pretzel M&M’s
Not That!: Butterfinger
Yes, Pretzel M&M’s still pack 150 empty calories, but that’s 100 calories less than a Butterfinger. What’s more? While one Butterfinger is loaded with nearly an entire day’s worth of sugar, the salty-sweet flavors of the Pretzel M&M’s will prevent a sugar rush. And while it’s easy to wolf down an entire Butterfinger without so much as blinking your eyes, M&M’s can be eaten at a slower pace because they’re smaller candies. To stop yourself from overeating and gaining weight, pop in one or two M&M’s at a time and your hunger pangs will vanish before you know it, and hopefully before you’ve eaten the entire bag.
Eat This: Oven Baked Original Lay’s Potato Chips
Not That!: Sun Chips Original
Baked Lays are the by far the best chips in the vending machine because the sodium is low and the saturated fat is non-existent. Sun Chips, on the other hand, have nearly double the amount of total fat (including half a gram of saturated fat) and more calories than their oven-baked counterparts. If you’d rather rid yourself of your vending machine snack habit all together, take a look at this list of the 30 Reasons Why You’re Always Hungry!
Eat This: Planters Honey Roasted Peanuts
Not That!: Corn Nuts Original
Planters Honey Roasted Peanuts are the safest snack in the vending machine because they’re loaded with protein, fiber, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Though they look at taste somewhat similar, Corn Nuts are nothing more than a blend of salted corn and partially hydrogenated oil, with a negligible amount of protein and fiber to boot.
Eat This: Rice Krispies Treat
Not That!: Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts
The bulk of a Rice Krispies Treat is a fairly innocuous cereal, which keeps the damage to a minimum, but the same can’t be said for a package of Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts. At over 400 calories, this treat packed with high-fructose corn syrup (amounting to more than an entire day’s worth of sugar) is about as unhealthy as it gets.
Eat This: Mini Chips Ahoy
Not That!: Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chips Ahoy and Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies look very similar from the outside, and though the nutritional info isn’t all that different, there are a few key facts to keep in mind for when your inner Cookie Monster rears its ugly head and just can’t live without a sweet snack. Famous Amos has more saturated fat, sodium, carbs, and sugar than Chips Ahoy, and though it may not seem like much, all of that can add up quickly if this cookie indulgence is a weekly habit. For inspiration on how to keep your body looking slim and trim, check out the 100 Best Weight Loss Tips!