Smart, healthy choices at the vending machine

It’s easy to feel like a snack from the vending machine is always the wrong decision. What’s YOUR vending machine guilty pleasure? When we asked our Shine Facebook community that question Frito-Lay’s Cheetos, Twix and Snickers, were some of their faves. Of course they are! Who doesn’t love a high sweet, high calorie snack in the middle of the day for a little pick me up. But how about instead of picking (insert your guilty pleasure here) for your next vending machine visit, why not choose the healthiest option from all those choices? Nutrition expert and author of "Chill Out & Get Healthy" Aimee Raupp came on "The Shine" to help us separate the good from the bad of vending machine snacks. Some of the best choices may even surprise you.

In this episode, The Shine's Host Allison Fishman is wearing:                                                                        Shirt by Aqua
Bracelets and earrings by Finn Jewelry

When it comes to the vending machine, Aimee recommends three cardinal rules for making your choice: whenever you can go nuts (and choose nuts), chomp the right chip – think Baked Lays or Lays Simply Natural, and always think “mean, lean machine” as in go for the least processed items that carry the most nutritional bang for their buck.

If you’re a carb kind of gal…

Go with the Baked Lays or even better the Lays Simply Natural chips (which have three ingredients: potatoes, safflower oil and salt). These are much better choices than the Nature Valley Granola Bars or the Quaker Oats Chewy Granola Bars.  Both these bars are loaded with chemically processed ingredients (not to mention full of allergenic substances) such as corn syrup, soy oil, soy flour and food dyes. Aimee even recommends the Lays over the Wheat Thins as the Wheat Thins are fairly thick on their processed ingredients.

And when it comes to cereal bars, one word: beware! Many think these are the “healthy” choices, but these foods are very processed, particularly the Kashi Go Lean bars and Luna bars, which derive from soy protein isolate (one of the worst processed food offenders out there!) Though Nutrigrain bars still contain a plethora of processed ingredients, they do not contain soy protein isolate, so they’d be the best choice in this bunch.

If the sweets call your name…

Go for Peanut M&Ms or Fig Newtons. Although both are fairly processed, the peanuts in the M&Ms balance out some of the damage done by the chocolate candied coating and the synthetic food dyes. And the ingredient list on Fig Newtons is quite small and simple (and figs are the second ingredient).  In the cookies department, choose Oreo’s. Sugar is the first ingredient, but the full list isn’t that long nor does it contain extremely noxious ingredients. Whatever you do, stay far away from Pop Tarts or Rice Krispie treats - these contain a chemically derived sugary substance five times in the ingredient list!

And for the very best vending machine selections…

As expected, the best options are the most minimally processed ones such as seeds or nuts. Some vending machines these days are even offering things like hummus and Greek yogurt so keep your eyes open for those and enjoy.  The only thing to watch out for here would be the chocolate candies that can be found in certain trail mixes.