The new year is a great opportunity to start fresh and incorporate new healthy habits into your lifestyle. However, as a dietitian who has worked with hundreds of individuals, I find that when it comes to health and wellness resolutions, people tend to set highly restrictive, unrealistic, and unsustainable goals, making it almost impossible to achieve them. This leads to feelings of defeat and disappointment, causing people to give up and having to set the same resolutions year after year.
One way to avoid this negative cycle is to set small, realistic goals that you know you can achieve. This helps you build confidence and feel motivated to continue to build upon your goals, and realistically achieve your resolution. And what better way to slowly work on your nutrition goals than to improve your daily snacks? As a dietitian, I am the biggest advocate for healthy snacking – it is an excellent way to bridge the gap between meals, helping you get more nutrients into your day, regulate blood sugar levels, and better portion your meals.
Unfortunately, most snacks are not supportive of good health. But not to worry – I’m here with five healthy snack swaps you can incorporate for the new year.
1. Tortilla Chips → Seaweed Snacks
Who doesn’t love a crunchy and salty snack? Snacks such as tortilla chips are tasty, but are unfortunately mostly refined flour that has been fried in oil with lots of added salt. Their high-calorie content and lack of nutrition make them what we refer to as ‘empty calories.’ A much healthier alternative is seaweed snacks – they are also salty and crispy, but give you a lot more bang for your buck when it comes to nutrition. Seaweed snacks are a powerhouse of nutrients such as protein, iodine, vitamin A, vitamin B12, and calcium, while providing very few calories. Seaweed snacks can be enjoyed on their own or with a dip such as guacamole, making it the perfect healthy replacement to tortilla chips this new year.
2. Cheesy Snacks → Non-Dairy White Cheddar Seaweed Snacks
If you’re used to having to lick your cheesy, powdery fingers after eating snacks such as cheddar-flavored potato chips and cheese puffs, we’ve got something better for you. These non-dairy white cheddar seaweed snacks give you the “crispy” and the “cheesy” minus the dairy, artificial flavors, food colorings, unhealthy oils, and excessive salt. This nutritious plant-based snack is also low-calorie, organic, and suitable for those with dietary restrictions — it is gluten-free, vegan, keto, and paleo. Pack these into your kid’s lunch box, keep a stash at work, or enjoy them during movie night for a healthier cheesy snack alternative.
3. Chips & Dip → Whole Grain Crackers & Hummus
We’ve covered why you should steer clear from most chips – they provide no nutritional value and contribute added oils, salt, and saturated (unhealthy) fats to your diet. A better alternative is whole grain crackers, especially the ones full of seeds, which provide fiber, and healthy fats, and can also contribute many vitamins and minerals, especially if they include ingredients such as flax, sesame, and chia seeds, quinoa, brown rice, and amaranth. As for dips, most options out there such as ranch, onion dips, and sour cream lack nutrients while contributing many of those ‘empty calories,’ saturated fats, and loads of salt. Instead, try dipping whole grain crackers or fresh veggies in nutrient-dense dips, such as this seaweed edamame hummus! This unique recipe is a great source of dietary fiber, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, B vitamins, and copper.
4. Candy or Sweets → Dark Chocolate
Given that most candy and sweets out there consist of mostly added sugars, oils, and artificial ingredients, you may feel at a loss when it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth. But there is hope! A sweet yet nutritious alternative is dark chocolate (70% or higher; the darker, the better.) Dark chocolate is made from cacao beans, which are highly nutritious as they provide essential minerals such as magnesium, iron, copper, and disease-fighting antioxidants. Swap milk chocolate bars and milk chocolate chips for their dark chocolate counterparts.
5. Fruit Roll-Ups → Fresh Fruit
You may be thinking… “but aren’t fruit roll-ups made from fruits, and aren’t fruits healthy?” Although it is true that fruits are extremely healthy, unfortunately, fruits are almost nonexistent in fruit roll-up snacks, which are predominantly made from corn syrup and other sugars, artificial flavors, and food colorings. In fact, the most “fruit” you will get in roll-ups are fruit concentrates, and even then, it’s a very small amount. A healthier swap is to consume fresh fruits or dried fruits without any sugar added. If buying packaged dried fruit, make sure to check the ingredients – it should only say the fruit and in some cases citric acid (for food preservation).
To A Year Full Of Snacking
As snack lovers, we are always on a mission to make snacking time a more nutritious part of your family’s day-to-day. Seaweed snacks are not only delicious and better for your health, but they are also more sustainable for the planet. If building healthier eating habits is on your new year’s resolution list, you can start by making these simple healthy swaps, so you can still enjoy your mid-day snack while supporting your health and the health of the planet.
About the Author
Carolina Schneider, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and a writer specializing in plant-based nutrition. Carolina has followed a vegan diet for almost a decade and is passionate about helping others incorporate more plants into their diet. Carolina is the founder of Hungry for Plants, a company dedicated to offering nutrition consulting services to health and wellness brands, primarily in the plant-based food and beverage space.