Learn About Foods To Avoid When Grocery Shopping With SNAP Benefits And Why
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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is intended to provide those in need with healthy and well-balanced diets, but it can be easy for recipients to take a junk food detour. Why? Simply, when on a budget, it’s easy to resort to choosing unhealthy food items that are often cheaper to purchase. As tempting and as low-priced as cookies, sodas and chips may be, it’s important for recipients to try their best to purchase healthy and nutritious foods. A poor diet filled with high levels of fats and sugars can quickly lead to serious health conditions like high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. The team at Food-Stamps.org has compiled a list of foods recipients of SNAP should avoid, and healthier alternatives to seek while grocery shopping and why.
Soft Drinks Loaded With Sugar
Sodas are fine to enjoy occasionally, but shouldn’t be purchased on every trip to the grocery store. One single 12-ounce can of Mountain Dew contains a shocking 170 calories. The worst part about sodas is the fact that essentially, they are nutritionally empty; sodas provide calories, but not actual nutrition value. The team at Food-Stamp-Guide.org found that people who regularly drink sodas are likelier to have lower levels of calcium and magnesium, because of the phosphoric acid found in soft drinks. Calcium and magnesium are two nutrients that help a body’s immune defense. Phosphoric acid can also block nutrient absorption and causes slow digestion. Regular sodas also are filled with high-fructose corn syrup that has been linked to the development of diabetes. Even diet sodas have been proven to contribute to weight gain. Diet sodas still have a sweet taste, which signals body cells to store fat and carbohydrates, ultimately making you feel hungrier. The only positive about soda is that it tastes good.
Here are smart alternatives to sugary soft drinks:
- Water bottles: It’s no secret that water is the healthiest drink option available. It’s recommended to drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of water per day to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Water keeps us hydrated and helps cleanse our body of toxins. Staying hydrated has been proven to improve levels of energy, and even brain function. Drinking water helps relieve constipation, prevent headaches and aid in weight loss. An increase in water intake has been proven to boost metabolic rates. The Food-Stamps.org team suggests any SNAP recipients that live in cities with excellent tap water save on costs by just purchasing a few bottles and a home filter system, and refilling them after consumed.
- Natural fruit juices: A great alternative to purchasing sodas is replacing them with natural fruit juices. Natural juices can provide important nutrients such as vitamin C, which helps boost immunity levels to fight off viruses and infections, among other things. The team at Food-Stamps.org urges participants to educate themselves on sugary juices, as it’s important to know that many “natural” juices can be loaded with high levels of sugar that rival sodas. Some healthy juice options are: V8 V-Fusion, Tropicana Trop50, Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail Original and Apple & Eve Organics Apple Juice.
- Hot and iced teas: There is a variety of teas (black, white, green and more) in existence – some infused with beneficial herbs and spices – that can help with immune boosting, skin conditions, cleansing and overall wellness. Consider purchasing a mix of teas to have at home, and enjoy them both hold and cold. One cup of tea per day, depending on the blend, can get your day started or help promote sound sleep. In addition, home-brewed iced tea is easy to make, and lasts quite a while if stored properly in the fridge.
Like soda, snacks can easily be filled with high sugars and many calories. A regular Kit Kat chocolate wafer contains 218 calories and 11 grams of fat. The Food-Stamps.org team found that just 1 ounce of kettle chips contains 150 calories and 9 grams of fat. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to eat the necessary foods to gain actual nutritional value, instead of empty calories. Enjoy chips and candy only sparingly and for special occasions. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, chips and candy should not be purchased and consumed routinely.
Here are some budget-friendly healthy snack ideas:
- Vegetables and hummus: Raw-cut carrots, cucumbers and celery are excellent healthy options on which to snack. Carrots are filled with water and fiber, and carry a lot of vitamin A and beta-carotene, and hummus can help lower your cholesterol.
- Hard boiled eggs: This healthy snack is packed with health-improving amino acids and a fat-fighting nutrient called choline. Boil a few eggs and keep them in a container to snack on throughout the week.
- Watermelon: Watermelon lowers fat accumulation due to the fruit’s high concentration in anthocyanin, a compound that battles fat-storage genes. Watermelon can also help with muscle soreness.
- Red grapes: Like watermelon, this fruit can really help aid with weight loss. Put a few in snack bags and leave them in the freezer for whenever a sweet craving strikes.
- Pumpkin seeds: Rather than grabbing a pack of chips to satisfy that salty craving, opt for a snack like pumpkin seeds. They’re lower in fat than even almonds, and offer more than 8 grams of protein. Pumpkin seeds are also high in iron, potassium and zinc.
Purchasing expensive meats for special occasions is okay, but it’s important to keep it mind that by purchasing pricier meats, recipients can run out of their monthly food allotment budgets quicker. The Food-Stamps.org team highly urges recipients learn how to stretch their budgets to ensure that purchases are reasonably priced and don’t have quick expiration dates. To save food and money, when purchasing meats, fish and poultry, recipients should try to freeze foods that won’t be immediately consumed. Freezing meats, fish and poultry will reduce waste, and will ultimately allow you to spend less money on purchasing more proteins.
Here are some inexpensive and healthy proteins to consider purchasing:
- Chicken breasts: At about 75 cents for 4 ounces and $2.99 per pound, chicken breasts can be cheaper than even fast-food nuggets. Chicken breast is also filled with lean protein.
- Canned tuna: At about 30 cents per ounce and $1.50 per 5-ounce can, tuna is not only a bargain, it’s a great way to get omega-3’s, which improve brain health.
- Canned salmon: At about 20 cents per ounce and $1.50 per 5-ounce can, canned salmon is packed with a lot of protein and omega-3.
- Tofu: At about 20 cents per ounce and $3 per pound, tofu is a delicious option for vegetarians and meat-eaters, alike, and is versatile for different flavor profiles.