Single serving items are very trendy right now. While controlling portions is important, the reality is that 100-calorie packs of cookies and chips provide relatively no nutritional value and often leave us feeling unsatisfied! And many of my patients say that they often eat more than one, which totally defeats the purpose. If, however, you are the type of person who is satisfied with a few bites of a sweet treat, these snacks can be a good solution. As a counselor, I tend to gear my patients towards buying single serving packages for foods with lots of nutritional value that can be calorically dense like hummus, cheese, nuts, and chocolate. When buying, follow these tips:
Focus on nutrition
Remember, just because something is only one serving doesn’t mean the food is healthy. Feed your body the things it needs! Get your healthy fats, heart-healthy flavonoids, calcium, and protein needs from the foods you love without breaking the bank or your waistline. Some of my favorite single serve items are Horizon Organic Part-Skim mozzarella cheese sticks and low-fat milk boxes, Sabra Hummus To Go (replace pretzels with whole wheat crackers or carrots), Barney Butter, Sweet Riot Dark Cacao Nibs, Emerald Cocoa Roast Dark Chocolate Almonds, and Paramount Farms Sunkist Pistachios.
Watch your calories
Some single serving items aren’t really calorie controlled. For example, Jiff Peanut Butter To Go is 390 calories and 32 grams of fat! This is about half your fat needs for the entire day. A typical serving of peanut butter is 2 tablespoons which is 200 calories and 14 grams of fat. If your single serving packet is your snack, aim to keep it at 200 calories. If however, it is complementing another item, like a piece of fruit or a cracker, aim to keep it at 100 calories.
Pair it up
If you just can’t live without your 100-calorie packs, eat them wisely. Stick to just ONE and remember that these foods aren’t the most filling so you may be hungry when you are finished with them. If you are eating something salty, pair it with 1 ounce of cheese to fill you up. Or if you’re eating something sweet, pair it with an 8-ounce glass of skim milk or a non-fat Greek yogurt. By adding protein you will be more satisfied and less likely to crack open another pack.
Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD is a best selling author and the creator of "The F-Factor Diet", an innovative nutritional program she has used for over a decade to provide thousands with the tools they need to achieve easy weight loss and maintenance, and improved health and well-being. In January 2011 Tanya launched the F-Factor food line with the largest natural foods company in the US, the Hain Celestial group. She is thrilled to be able to offer the highest fiber products on the market to date. Become a fan of Tanya on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.