As much as I would have liked to switch our diet over to all 'real food' at once, I knew that would only cause burnout. So I picked a couple items a month to improve, and a few years later our family is now eating much more real food than industrial food.
We already looked at coconut oil - making a switch to using coconut oil is a relatively easy step. Cleaning up our snack foods can be another step towards getting the worst foods out of our diet and replacing them with better ones.
Snacks can be tough, since when we snack it's because we're hungry right now. We don't want to have to think at that moment, so we can go ahead and think it through now, before we even get to the grocery store. Four years ago Doritos, Skittles, and Coke were our snack foods of choice.
What's wrong with these? The following is what I specifically didn't want in our diet, found by reading the ingredient list.
Doritos: Genetically modified corn. MSG. Artificial color. Corn syrup.
Skittles: Corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, food coloring
Coke: Corn syrup, lots of it!
Don't let the marketing convince you - corn syrup is much more processed than regular sugar, and is further away from being a whole food. A natural sweetener like honey or real maple syrup is even better, but for now finding snacks without corn syrup in them will improve your snacking. Furthermore, corn syrup is almost always used in foods with a high markup and low nutritional value, so foods that contain corn syrup are yielding very low nutrition for the cost.
I found it easiest to switch to foods that were similar to what I was already buying.
- For chips I switched to organic corn chips (these are from Costco - they're in the crumpled bag in the picture) that don't have all the additives.
- Peanut butter makes a great dip for pretzels, carrots, or apples - go for the natural and watch for added sugar (it doesn't need sugar).
- Cheese, such as Tillimok or organic cheeses, are very nutrient dense (we'll talk more about full fat dairy later- it's great).
We moved away from cheap over processed sweets and now when we want something sweet we go for higher quality.
- Lindt dark chocolate has refined sugar, but no corn syrup. It also has no trans-fats and contains coconut oil!
- Haagan Daz has certain flavors (chocolate, strawberry, vanilla are ones that I know) that don't contain corn syrup, artificial color, or preservatives. They contain refined sugar, but not all the other junk in other ice creams.
- Stretch Island fruit leathers are 100% fruit. They're flavorful and sweet without additives.
- Fruit, of course, is great.
We don't drink soda at all any more and just drink water. Some people like half fruit juice with half seltzer water. The more natural sugar found in fruit juice would be preferable to the corn syrup found in soda.
I haven't done well making my own crackers but for those ambitious enough to try, that's a great way to control exactly what's in your snack food: Sprouted Whole Grain Crackers
You can check out other snack ideas over on my blog.
What snack food are you going to make a priority to replace? Or what have you already replaced with a healthier alternative?
Cara lives in Montana with her husband and two young children (3 and 1). She enjoys playing with her kids, cooking, crafts, and reading. She writes at Health, Home and Happiness.