We’ve all been there: it’s the middle of the afternoon, you’re stuck at school or at work, and you’ve forgotten your lunch. You can’t leave, and the only food source nearby is that horrible vending machine in the lunchroom, loaded with all kinds of junk food you know will ruin your diet. But you’re desperate, and hungry! What to do? No worries! Here’s my list of the ten things from a vending machine that won’t ruin your diet!
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Some vending machines, like the one at my daughter’s high school, stock a small variety of fresh fruits alongside the candy bars. If possible, grab am apple, orange, or banana from the vending machine. It won’t wreck your diet, and besides, you need five servings of fruits and veggies every day anyway!
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If you can, buy a bottle of water from the vending machine. It will take the edge off your hunger until you can find something more healthful to eat, and besides, you likely need the hydration anyway!
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Most vending machines offer trail mix to their customers they know are dieting. Be careful, though, since some have M&Ms in them, or other chocolate candies. The kind of raisins and a variety of nuts is best, because it’s loaded with protein and doesn’t have as much sugar.
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You know, I actually prefer Baked Lay’s over the fried version most people eat. If the vending machine offers baked chips or crisps, choose those instead. They might even have a little fiber in them! The barbeque flavor is the best… so yummy!
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Peanuts are loaded with protein, though it’s not lean protein. Also, salted peanuts can be high in sodium, so you should eat them in moderation. However, if you’re desperate for something to eat, and all you have is what’s in the vending machine, these are far better for you than a candy bar (even the ones with peanuts inside).
Ah, the “healthy” choice for vending machine foods. Bear in mind these snacks aren’t “healthy” by any means, but they do tend to be lower in fat, calories, and sugar, so they won’t ruin your diet.
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Who doesn’t love animal crackers and that faint lemony flavor they have? Unless they’re candy-coated or dipped in chocolate, they won’t be terribly high in sugar or calories, so they’d be a snack from the vending machine that wouldn’t ruin your diet.
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Most vending machines offer several varieties of bagged pretzels, which can be high in sodium, but are usually very low in sugar, unless they’re chocolate or yogurt-covered. Some of them also have a few grams of fiber, which means they’ll make you feel fuller, longer.
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Look for a granola bar in the vending machine that’s labeled as whole-grain, and that doesn’t appear to have chocolate chips in it, and one that’s not dipped in chocolate. Again, the whole grains and fiber will make you feel fuller, longer, so you won’t ruin your diet by grabbing something else from the vending machine half an hour after you eat the first snack.
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Okay, if there’s absolutely nothing else left in the vending machine except candy bars and Cool Ranch Doritos, then grab a bag of peanut M&Ms or Raisinettes, because at least both of these have some vague concept of nutritional value. Are they good for you? No way, but at least they won’t ruin your diet like the chocolate-marshmallow-peanut-butter-crisp-cups will…
Remember that one small lapse at the vending machine won’t ruin your diet, especially if you try to choose the right thing. And next time, try to remember to bring your own snack! What do you eat from the vending machine that doesn’t ruin your diet? Have I left something off my list? Please let me know!
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