Top 15 Snacks to Avoid for Better Health

We all know the struggle. Hunger pangs hit, and you reach for the quickest, most convenient snack.

But beware! Not all snacks are created equal. Some seemingly innocent options can pack a hidden punch of sugar, unhealthy fats, and empty calories, derailing your health goals.

So ditch the diet derailers and fuel your body with delicious, nutritious snacks that will keep you satisfied and energized. Here’s a guide to help you navigate the snack aisle and make informed choices:

Sugar Crash Culprits

Sugary snacks may provide a quick burst of energy, but the crash that follows leaves you feeling sluggish and reaching for more. Here are some sugary saboteurs to avoid:

Candy Bars: 

Loaded with Sugar, Unhealthy Fats, and Artificial Ingredients: Candy bars are a concentrated dose of simple sugars, unhealthy fats like saturated and trans fats, and often contain artificial ingredients like artificial flavors and colors.

These ingredients offer minimal nutritional value and can contribute to weight gain, blood sugar spikes and crashes, and inflammation in the body.

Fruit Snacks: 

While they may seem like a healthy option, many fruit snacks are packed with Added Sugar and Lack the Fiber Punch of Whole Fruits: Many commercially available fruit snacks are more like candy than fruit.

They are often loaded with added sugars and syrups, and lack the fiber content of whole fruits. Fiber helps you feel full and satisfied, and also slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, preventing blood sugar spikes.

Flavored Yogurts: 

These Often Disguise High Sugar Content with Fruity Flavors and Colorful Layers: Flavored yogurts can be a major source of hidden sugar.

They may look healthy with their bright colors and fruity flavors, but often contain significant amounts of added sugar. Opt for plain yogurt and add your own fruit for sweetness and a fiber boost.

Baked Goods: 

Cookies, Muffins, and Pastries are Often Loaded with Sugar, Butter, and Refined Flour, Providing Little More Than Empty Calories: Baked goods like cookies, muffins, and pastries can be tempting treats, but they offer minimal nutritional value.

They are typically high in refined carbohydrates from white flour and sugar, which can lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes. They are also often high in unhealthy fats like butter and shortening.

Salt Bombs

Salty snacks can be highly addictive, and the more you eat, the thirstier you become. This cycle of snacking and drinking can lead to overconsumption and dehydration. Here are some salty sirens to avoid:

Potato Chips: 

Classic Potato Chips are High in Sodium, Unhealthy Fats, and Lacking in Nutrients: Potato chips are a classic salty snack, but they’re not doing your health any favors.

They are typically high in sodium, which can contribute to high blood pressure. They are also fried, which adds unhealthy fats to your diet. Additionally, they offer minimal essential vitamins, minerals, or fiber.


While Seemingly Benign, Pretzels Can Be Surprisingly High in Sodium, Pretzels may seem like a healthier alternative to potato chips, but they can be surprisingly high in sodium, especially flavored varieties.

Be sure to check the nutrition label before grabbing a bag. Opt for unsalted pretzel twists for a lower-sodium option.

Microwave Popcorn: 

Microwave Popcorn is Often Loaded with Sodium and Unhealthy Fats: Microwave popcorn is a convenient snack option, but be wary of the hidden ingredients.

Many microwave popcorn bags are loaded with sodium and unhealthy fats like trans fats. Look for air-popped popcorn and season it yourself with healthy spices and herbs for a lower-sodium and healthier option.

Flavored Nuts: 

Salted and Flavored Nuts Can Be a Major Source of Hidden Sodium: Nuts are a healthy snack option, but be mindful of flavored varieties. Salted and flavored nuts can be a major source of hidden sodium.

Opt for dry-roasted or unsalted nuts for a healthier alternative. You can also roast your own nuts at home and season them with your favorite spices for added flavor without the added sodium.

Empty Calorie Culprits

These snacks may be low in calories, but they also lack essential nutrients, leaving you feeling hungry shortly after. Here are some empty-calorie evaders:

Rice Cakes: 

Rice cakes may seem like a healthy option because they are low in calories, but they lack essential nutrients that keep you feeling full.

They are mostly carbohydrates and offer little fiber or protein. Fiber and protein help you feel satisfied and prevent you from reaching for more snacks soon after.

Diet Cookies: 

Diet Cookies Often Rely on Artificial Sweeteners and Fillers to Create a Low-Calorie Option, but They Often Leave You Craving More: Diet cookies may seem like a guilt-free indulgence, but they often disappoint.

They frequently rely on artificial sweeteners and fillers to create a low-calorie option, but these ingredients can leave you feeling unsatisfied and craving more.

Artificial sweeteners can also disrupt your gut microbiome and contribute to sugar cravings.

Puffed Snacks: 

These Airy Snacks May Be Light in Calories, but They Also Lack Significant Protein or Fiber, Leaving You Feeling Unsatisfied: Puffed snacks like puffs or cheese puffs may be light and airy, making them seem like a low-calorie option.

However, they are typically made with refined carbohydrates and lack significant protein or fiber. This means they won’t keep you feeling full for long, and you may find yourself reaching for more snacks shortly after.

Fruit Juices: 

While Fruit Juices Contain Vitamins, They Lack the Fiber of Whole Fruit and Can Be High in Sugar: Fruit juice can be a refreshing drink, but it’s not the healthiest snack option.

While it does contain some vitamins and antioxidants, it lacks the fiber content of whole fruit. Fiber helps you feel full and satisfied, and also slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.

Without fiber, the sugars in fruit juice can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes. Opt for whole fruits instead of fruit juice to get the benefits of fiber and avoid blood sugar spikes.

Healthy Snack Swaps: Delicious Alternatives to Keep You on Track

Now that you know what to avoid, here are some delicious and healthy snack swaps to keep you energized and satisfied:

Fresh Fruits with Nut Butter: 

Pair apple slices, pear slices, or banana slices with almond butter or peanut butter for a satisfying combination of protein and fiber.

Fruits provide natural sweetness and vitamins, while nut butter adds protein and healthy fats to keep you feeling full.

Greek Yogurt with Berries: 

Greek yogurt is a great source of protein, and berries add a touch of sweetness and antioxidants. Greek yogurt is higher in protein than regular yogurt, making it a more filling snack option.

Berries are a great source of antioxidants and add natural sweetness without the need for added sugar.

Hard-boiled Eggs: 

A Protein Powerhouse, Hard-boiled Eggs are a Portable and Satisfying Snack Option: Hard-boiled eggs are a convenient and healthy snack option.

They are a complete protein source, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids your body needs. They are also portable and require no preparation, making them a great option for busy lifestyles.

Veggies with Hummus: 

Carrot sticks, celery sticks, or bell pepper strips dipped in hummus provide a satisfying combination of crunch and creaminess. Vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Hummus is a good source of protein and healthy fats, making it a more filling dip option than processed cheese or ranch dressing.

Trail Mix (Made at Home): 

Make your own trail mix with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit for a customizable and healthy snack mix. Trail mix can be a healthy snack option, but it’s important to choose your ingredients wisely.

Store-bought trail mix can be high in added sugar and unhealthy fats. Making your own trail mix allows you to control the ingredients and ensure you’re getting a healthy mix of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.


Edamame is a Great Source of Plant-Based Protein and Fiber: Edamame is a delicious and healthy snack option for vegetarians and vegans alike.

It is a good source of plant-based protein and fiber, which can help you feel full and satisfied. Edamame is also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including iron, folate, and vitamin K.

Roasted Chickpeas: 

Roasted Chickpeas are a Crunchy and Flavorful Snack that’s High in Protein and Fiber: Roasted chickpeas are a delicious and healthy alternative to chips or popcorn.

They are high in protein and fiber, which can help you feel full and satisfied. They are also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including iron, folate, and manganese.

You can roast chickpeas at home and season them with your favorite spices for added flavor.

Listen to Your Body: Snacking for Overall Health

Remember, healthy snacking is about listening to your body’s cues and providing it with the nutrients it needs to thrive. Don’t deprive yourself, but focus on mindful snacking with wholesome options.

Pay attention to how your body feels after eating certain snacks. If a snack leaves you feeling sluggish or craving more, it’s probably not the healthiest option for you. Choose snacks that leave you feeling energized and satisfied.

11 Signs You’re Eating More Protein Than You Need

Protein is a superstar nutrient. Essential for building and repairing tissues, it also keeps you feeling full and energized.

But with the rise of high-protein diets and an abundance of protein-packed products on grocery shelves, it’s easy to wonder: can you actually eat too much protein?

The answer is yes. While protein is crucial, exceeding your body’s needs can lead to a surprising array of health concerns. So, how do you know if you’re overdoing it? Here are 11 signs you might be eating more protein than you need:

1. Digestive Distress:

Excess protein can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Your body needs time and resources to break down protein into its building blocks, amino acids.

If you’re constantly consuming more protein than your body can handle at once, you might experience:

Bloating: The increased workload on your digestive system can cause bloating and a feeling of discomfort in your abdomen.

Gas: During protein breakdown, certain gases are produced as byproducts. Excess protein can lead to excessive gas production, causing flatulence and abdominal distention.

Constipation: Protein doesn’t have the same fiber content as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. A high-protein, low-fiber diet can slow down digestion and lead to constipation.

Diarrhea: In some cases, excessive protein intake can irritate the digestive tract, leading to loose stools and diarrhea.

2. Dehydration:

Protein metabolism requires water. When you consume a lot of protein, your body pulls water from other sources to aid digestion and excretion of waste products produced during protein breakdown.

This can lead to dehydration, causing:

Headaches: Dehydration is a common culprit behind headaches. If you’re experiencing frequent headaches and notice a high protein intake, consider increasing your water consumption.

Fatigue: Dehydration can zap your energy levels. Feeling tired and sluggish could be a sign you need to up your water intake, especially if you’re eating a lot of protein.

Constipation: Dehydration can further worsen constipation caused by a lack of fiber in a high-protein diet.

3. Kidney Strain:

Your kidneys work tirelessly to filter waste products from your blood, including those produced by protein breakdown. A constant overload of protein can overwork your kidneys, potentially leading to:

Increased workload: The kidneys have to work harder to filter out excess protein byproducts, which can put a strain on their function over time.

Kidney damage: In severe cases, chronically exceeding protein needs can damage the kidneys and increase the risk of kidney disease. This is especially concerning for people with pre-existing kidney problems.

4. Unexplained Weight Gain:

While protein can help with weight management by keeping you feeling full and boosting metabolism, overdoing it can backfire. Here’s why:

Calories count: Protein contains calories, just like carbohydrates and fat. If you’re consuming more protein than your body needs and not burning off those extra calories through exercise, you can experience weight gain.

Increased appetite: Some studies suggest that a very high-protein diet might not be as effective for curbing appetite in the long term as previously thought.

Consuming excessive protein might not always lead to sustained feelings of fullness, potentially leading to overeating.

5. Increased Bad Breath:

The breakdown of protein byproducts can release ammonia, a compound with a pungent odor.

This can contribute to bad breath, especially on high-protein, low-carb diets that limit your intake of breath-freshening fruits and vegetables. Here’s a deeper dive into why:

Ammonia production: During protein metabolism, amino acids are broken down. One byproduct of this process is ammonia.

The body’s defense mechanism: The liver converts excess ammonia into a less harmful substance called urea, which is then excreted through the urine.

Incomplete processing: When protein intake is excessive, the liver might struggle to keep up with ammonia production.

This can lead to some ammonia escaping into the bloodstream and eventually being released through the lungs, contributing to bad breath.

Lack of neutralizing foods: Fruits and vegetables are high in water and fiber, which can help dilute and eliminate ammonia from the body. A low-carb, high-protein diet might lack these cleansing elements, worsening bad breath.

6. Irregular Bone Health:

There’s a common misconception that protein is good for bone health tout court.

While it does play a role in building and maintaining strong bones, excess protein can actually leach calcium from your bones, increasing your risk of osteoporosis. Here’s why:

Acid load: During protein metabolism, acidic byproducts are produced. To neutralize this acidity and maintain blood pH balance, the body pulls calcium from bones, its primary storage reservoir for this mineral.

Long-term impact: Chronic high protein intake can lead to a gradual depletion of calcium from bones, weakening them and increasing the risk of fractures, especially in individuals who are already prone to osteoporosis due to age or other health factors.

7. Nutrient Imbalances:

A protein obsession can crowd out other essential nutrients. Focusing heavily on protein sources like meat and eggs might leave you deficient in other vital elements your body needs to function optimally.

Here’s what you might be missing:

Fiber: Most protein sources lack fiber, which is crucial for gut health, digestion, and heart health. A high-protein diet low in fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can lead to constipation and digestive issues.

Healthy fats: Certain fats, like those found in fatty fish and avocados, are essential for brain function, hormone production, and nutrient absorption. A protein-centric diet might skimp on these healthy fats.

Essential vitamins and minerals: Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals your body needs. Focusing solely on protein sources can leave you deficient in these micronutrients.

8. Worsened Gout Symptoms:

Gout is a painful condition caused by a buildup of uric acid in the joints. Certain protein sources, particularly red meat and organ meats, are high in purines, which break down into uric acid.

Consuming excessive amounts of these proteins can worsen gout symptoms or increase your risk of developing the condition. Here’s a breakdown of the connection:

Purine content: Red meat, organ meats, and some seafood are high in purines. When these purines are broken down in the body, they produce uric acid.

Uric acid buildup: If your body produces too much uric acid or has trouble eliminating it, it can crystallize and deposit in your joints, causing the inflammation and pain characteristic of gout attacks.

Increased risk: While gout can have genetic components, dietary factors play a significant role. A high-protein diet rich in purines can significantly increase your risk of gout flares or the onset of the condition.

9. Mood Swings and Irritability:

Protein is essential for brain function and neurotransmitter production, which play a role in mood regulation.

However, research suggests that a very high-protein diet might negatively impact mood regulation. Here’s a possible explanation:

Blood sugar fluctuations: While protein can help regulate blood sugar to some extent, a very high-protein diet might lead to blood sugar imbalances, especially if it’s low in carbohydrates.

These fluctuations can contribute to mood swings and irritability.

The role of gut health: A growing body of research suggests a link between gut health and mood.

A high-protein, low-fiber diet can disrupt the gut microbiome, potentially impacting the production of neurotransmitters and mood regulation.

Lack of essential nutrients: Deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals, like B vitamins and magnesium, which can occur with a protein-centric diet, might also contribute to mood swings and irritability.

10. Difficulty Sleeping:

A balanced diet promotes healthy sleep patterns. However, excess protein can disrupt sleep in a few ways. Here’s how:

Digestive burden: A high-protein meal takes longer to digest than a balanced meal with carbohydrates and healthy fats. This can keep your body working while you’re trying to rest, interfering with sleep quality.

Blood sugar imbalances: As mentioned earlier, a high-protein diet might lead to blood sugar fluctuations. These fluctuations can disrupt sleep cycles and make it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night.

Stress hormone response: Some studies suggest that a very high-protein diet might elevate stress hormone levels in some individuals. These hormones can interfere with sleep onset and quality.

11. Missing Out on the Fiber Advantage:

Fiber is a crucial nutrient for gut health, digestion, and heart health. Many protein sources, like meat and dairy, lack fiber.

Focusing too heavily on protein can lead to a fiber deficiency, potentially causing several health problems. Here’s why fiber is important:

Gut health: Fiber acts as a prebiotic, feeding the good bacteria in your gut microbiome. A healthy gut microbiome is essential for digestion, immune function, and overall well-being.

Digestive regularity: Fiber helps regulate bowel movements and prevents constipation. A high-protein, low-fiber diet can lead to constipation and other digestive issues.

Heart health: Fiber can help lower bad cholesterol levels and promote heart health. A diet lacking in fiber might increase your risk of heart disease.

So, How Much Protein Do You Really Need?

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein varies depending on several factors, including age, activity level, and overall health.

However, a healthy adult typically needs around 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This translates to roughly 54 grams for a 150-pound person and 72 grams for a 200-pound person.

Athletes and individuals with specific health conditions may have slightly higher protein needs, but it’s always best to consult a healthcare professional or registered dietician for personalized guidance.

These Are The Cheeses You Want To Avoid Eating At All Costs

While cheese can be a delicious and nutritious part of your diet, some types are significantly higher in fat and sodium than others. It’s essential to be mindful of these varieties and enjoy them sparingly.

Here’s a closer look at some cheese types that deserve a place on your cheese board, but in limited quantities:

Soft-Ripened Cheeses

Cream cheese, brie, camembert, and mascarpone – these soft-ripened cheeses are undeniably luxurious and spreadable, perfect on crackers or melted over savory dishes.

However, their creamy texture comes at a cost – a higher fat content than more complex cheeses. These cheeses can be over 50% fat, with a significant portion being saturated fat.

Saturated fat, while providing some energy, should be consumed in moderation as it can contribute to weight gain and increase your risk of heart disease.

Here’s how to savor soft-ripened cheeses mindfully:

Portion Control is Key: 

A small serving, about the size of a tablespoon, is enough to enjoy the rich flavor and creamy texture without overindulging.

Pair with Lighter Options: 

Balance the richness of soft cheeses by pairing them with fresh fruits like grapes, pears, or whole-grain crackers for a more balanced and satisfying bite.

Enjoy as an Occasional Treat: 

Due to their high-fat content, soft-ripened cheeses are best enjoyed sparingly as a special treat or appetizer rather than a daily indulgence.

Blue Cheeses

These pungent cheeses, like Roquefort, Gorgonzola, and Stilton, add a distinctive and sharp flavor punch to salads, burgers, and pasta dishes.

They are known for their characteristic blue veins caused by specific mold cultures used in cheesemaking.

But beware, blue cheeses are also typically high in fat and sodium. A single ounce of blue cheese can contain 30% of your recommended sodium intake.

Here’s how to incorporate blue cheeses without overdoing it:

Let the Flavor Shine: 

The intense flavors of blue cheese allow you to use a smaller amount for maximum impact. Crumble a small amount over a salad or pasta dish for a burst of flavor without consuming a large serving.

Seek Out Low-Sodium Options: 

Some blue cheese varieties are produced with lower sodium content. Look for labels indicating “low-sodium” or “sodium-reduced” when selecting blue cheese.

Reserve for Special Occasions: 

Due to their high fat and sodium content, enjoy blue cheeses as a special ingredient in specific dishes rather than a regular addition to your diet.

Processed Cheeses

American cheese slices, cheese spreads, and cheese whiz seems convenient. Still, they often contain additional ingredients that detract from cheese’s natural flavor and health benefits.

Sodium phosphates, emulsifiers, artificial flavors, and artificial colors are common additives in processed cheeses. These additives can not only affect the taste but may also raise health concerns.

Additionally, processed cheeses can be high in fat and sodium, making them less desirable for regular consumption.

Here’s why processed cheese should be a rare indulgence:

Questionable Ingredients:

Additives like sodium phosphates can contribute to bloating and digestive issues in some individuals. Artificial flavors and colors may raise concerns for those seeking a more natural diet.

Hidden Sodium: 

Processed cheeses often contain significant added sodium to enhance flavor and preserve shelf life. Be mindful of sodium content when checking labels.

Lower Nutritional Value: 

Compared to natural cheeses, processed cheeses offer less protein and fewer vitamins and minerals.

Healthier Alternatives You Can Rely on

The world of cheese extends far beyond the familiar cheddar and mozzarella.

Adventurous cheese lovers can explore lesser-known cheese varieties often lower in fat and calories, allowing for more frequent enjoyment without compromising health goals.

Here are some hidden gems to add variety and flavor to your cheese repertoire:

Goat Cheese

Made from goat’s milk, goat cheese offers a tangy and slightly crumbly texture with a unique flavor profile. Compared to cream cheese, goat cheese is better for health-conscious cheese lovers.

It boasts a lower fat content, notably lower in saturated fat, and is a good source of protein. Additionally, goat cheese is generally easier to digest for those with lactose intolerance due to its naturally lower lactose content.

Here’s how to incorporate goat cheese into your diet:


Crumbled goat cheese adds a delightful textural contrast and a tangy flavor to a bed of mixed greens. Pair it with roasted vegetables, dried fruits, and a balsamic vinaigrette for a satisfying and healthy salad.

Spreads and Dips:

Combine goat cheese with herbs like chives or thyme and a drizzle of olive oil for a delicious and protein-rich spread on crackers or whole-grain bread. 

Stuffed Vegetables:

Goat cheese is a fantastic filling for roasted peppers, zucchini, or eggplant. This creates a flavorful and protein-packed vegetarian main course. 

Ricotta Salata

Ricotta salata, or “salted ricotta,” is a brined cheese from sheep’s or cow’s milk. It offers a salty and slightly grainy texture with a tangy flavor.

Ricotta salata boasts a lower fat content than traditional parmesan, making it a more suitable choice for those watching their fat intake. Additionally, its unique flavor profile adds depth and complexity to various dishes.

Here’s how to enjoy ricotta salata:

Pasta Dishes:

Crumble ricotta salata over a simple pasta dish with marinara sauce for a salty and flavorful topping.


Similar to goat cheese, ricotta salata adds a delightful textural contrast and a burst of salty flavor to salads. Pair it with fresh fruits, vegetables, and a light vinaigrette. 

Pizza Topping:

Ricotta salata can substitute for parmesan on pizzas, offering a slightly different flavor profile without the high-fat content.

Queso Fresco

Queso fresco, meaning “fresh cheese” in Spanish, is a crumbly, mild-flavored cheese traditionally made from cow’s milk.

A staple ingredient in Tex-Mex cuisine, queso fresco is a fantastic, lower-fat alternative to other cheeses commonly used in these dishes.

It offers a fresh and slightly salty flavor profile that complements Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes without overpowering them.

Here’s how to incorporate queso fresco into your meals:

Tacos and Burritos:

Crumbled queso fresco adds a delightful textural contrast and a fresh flavor to tacos and burritos. Pair it with seasoned ground beef, chicken, or vegetables for a protein-packed and flavorful meal.


Queso fresco can be used as a filling or topping for enchiladas, offering a lighter alternative to heavier cheeses without sacrificing taste.


Like other crumbly cheeses, queso fresco adds a delightful textural contrast and a salty flavor to salads. Pair it with avocado, black beans, corn, and a citrusy vinaigrette for a refreshing and healthy salad.


By understanding the drawbacks of high-fat and high-sodium cheeses and practicing moderation, you can create a balanced and delicious diet that incorporates cheese without compromising your health goals.

So, explore the wonderful world of cheese with a newfound appreciation for its diverse flavors and make informed choices for a healthy and enjoyable cheese experience!

By incorporating these lesser-known cheese varieties into your diet, you can explore exciting flavor profiles while keeping your health goals in mind.

Remember, cheese can be a delicious and nutritious part of a balanced diet when enjoyed in moderation and with an awareness of the different fat and sodium contents of various cheese types.

So, explore the diverse world of cheese with confidence and create culinary experiences that are both flavorful and health-conscious!