100-Calorie Snack Packs – Yay or Nay?
Treats packaged as 100-calorie snack packs are food manufacturers’ way of responding to the obesity epidemic and consumer demand. Cracker and cookie giants such as Oreo, Chips Ahoy, and Ritz are re-packaging their flagship products into smaller portions available in 100-calorie portion packs. And other popular packaged snacks such as Pringles, Lays chips, Cheetos, Balance energy bars, Cadbury, and even Coke are jumping on the 100-calorie bandwagon too.
The 100-Calorie Snack Storm
Over the years, although food producers have been decreasing portion sizes, just because these sancks are now packed into 100-calorie packages does not suddenly make them more nutritious or healthy. Packaged foods such as crackers, chips and cookies are great examples of empty-calorie snacks. These snacks are low in nutritional value and high in calories.
Plus, despite the fact that these 100-calorie snack packs show 0 grams of trans fat on the Nutrition Facts panels, we found trans fat laden hydrogenated oil on their ingredient list. It is unfortunate that the FDA allows food manufacturers to list 0 grams of trans fat as long as there is less than 0.5 gram of trans fat per serving.
If you absolutely cannot resist empty-calorie snacks, and you don’t mind paying a hefty price (twice as expensive per ounce), 100-calorie snack packs may work for you. Instead of eating a whole bag of fried chips, having one portion-controlled 100-calorie pack is helpful in curbing overeating. Please note that some 100-calorie packs actually have a different formulation than their original. Oreo is an example. One original Oreo cookie alone has 75 calories. It doesn’t make sense to put 1 1/2 Oreo cookies in a 100-calorie pack! So Kraft had to resize and reformulate the cookies by removing the cream layer.
Healthy Snack Options
- Try to get in a habit of packing fresh fruits and/or vegetables. All sorts of fruits and veggies like baby carrots, bananas, grapes, apples, oranges, cherries, tomatoes and even celery sticks are great healthy snack options.
- You can even try try to bring processed fruit (ether dried or packed in in cans or cups in water). Of course, these are not as fresh but they are still much more healthier than packaged convenient foods.
- A great option is to pack trail mix (with nuts), los of of dried fruits and even whole grain cereal.
- You can also try to bring yogurt. This is a great source of protein and calcium.
Are 100-Calorie Snack Packs Good for Kids?
A few readers asked if the new 100-calorie snack packs from Nabisco are good for kids. They felt that these single-serving cracker snacks are easy to pack in the lunchbox, making them convenient snacks for school.
Obesity epidemic gives rise to 100-Calorie Snack Packs
Snacks packaged as 100-calorie snack packs are food manufacturers’ way of responding to the obesity epidemic. Not only are cracker and cookie giants such as Oreo, Chips Ahoy and Ritz re-packaging their flagship products into smaller portions available in 100-Calorie portion packs. Other popular packaged snacks such as Pringles, Lays chips, Cheetos, Balance energy bars and even Coke are jumping on the 100-Calorie bandwagon.
Are the Nabisco’s 100-Calorie Snack Packs good for kids?
Although food manufacturers are definitely doing better by shrinking portion sizes instead of super-sizing them, repackaging these snacks into 100-Calorie packs does not make them more nutritious or healthier. These crackers and cookies are the perfect examples of empty-calorie snacks. Empty-calorie foods are high in calories but low in nutritional values, lacking the health-promoting nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
In addition, despite the fact that these 100-calorie snack packs show 0 grams of trans fat on the Nutrition Facts panels, we found trans fat laden hydrogenated oil on their ingredient list. It is unfortunate that the FDA allows food manufacturers to list 0 grams of trans fat if the amounts of trans fat is less than 0.5 gram per serving.
Healthy Snack Options for your Kids’ School Days
- Make it a habit to carry fresh vegetables and fruit with you. Easy-to-carry options include apples, pears, bananas, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and grapes.
- Try processed fruit! Canned fruit cups in water and dried fruit are not as fresh, but they are still healthy and nutritious snacks.
- Prepare a portion-controlled nutritious trail mix with nuts, whole grain cereal and plenty of dried fruits like raisins, apricots and prunes.
- Pack a kiddie size yogurt. They provide a good source of protein and calcium. If possible, choose one with active live bacterial cultures (probiotics) to maximize its health benefits.
Alumni: University of British Columbia – Gloria Tsang is the author of 6 books and the founder of HealthCastle.com, the largest online nutrition network run by registered dietitians. Her work has appeared in major national publications, and she is a regularly featured nutrition expert for media outlets across the country. The Huffington Post named her one of its Top 20 Nutrition Experts on Twitter. Gloria’s articles have appeared on various media such as Reuters, NBC & ABC affiliates, The Chicago Sun-Times, Reader’s Digest Canada, iVillage and USA Today.