Packaged snacks are often loaded with calories, sugar and salt, and while eating them occasionally isn't horrible for you, you can still make good and bad choices from the vending machine.
Better-for-you options at the vending machine
We all try to be careful and bring healthy snacks with us so we're not forced to buy convenience foods that are often not the best choices. But if you're stuck getting a snack from a vending machine, these options are the healthier ones that won't destroy your good-eating regimen.
Choose the snack-size option if it's available
Even if the full-size option of a food product is available (which is usually more economical to buy), if you're watching your weight, buy the 100-calorie snack-size version instead. The full size version will, of course, have more calories, fat and sugar, and it'll likely be more than one serving size. And even if you promise yourself to eat only half, if you know you will most likely be tempted to scarf down the entire snack, play it safe and get the small version. You'll still get the taste and flavour you crave, so you'll be satisfied, but you won't have to feel guilty.
Look for snacks that are not fried
Instead of chips or other salty snacks that are fried, look for products cooked in healthier ways, such as baked. Baked chips (think Lay's Baked! chips, for one) are a good option, as are pretzels (except the ones filled with processed cheese), which are filling and satisfying. PopChips (which are prepared in a special, proprietary way, and "popped" is how it's described) are only 100 calories a bag and will satisfy your craving for something crunchy and savoury.
Choose dark chocolate
Most of what we refer to as chocolate bars are actually candy bars — loaded with lots of sugar, fat and calories. If you're lucky and the vending machine has a better-quality bar of plain dark chocolate, this is your healthier option. Dark chocolate is believed to have cancer-fighting and heart-healthy benefits, thanks to its antioxidant properties from its high cocoa content.
Be careful with your beverage choices
Hydrating with bottled water is the healthiest choice, as sodas are empty calories (they don't fill you up but can be loaded with sugar and calories). If you really want something sweet, try a 100 per cent fruit juice rather than a soft drink, but be sure to check the serving size.