What's the Difference? Looking Past the Calories & Picking the Healthiest Snack


On the left: 90 calories, 12g sugar On the right: 90 calories, 13.5g sugar

...So what's the difference?


Yesterday I was walking through the grocery store and saw a "value sized" box of fruit smileys. I know these are (and always have been) such a popular snack (among kids especially)! Let's be honest, we have all had our fair share of fruit smileys.

Out of interest, I took a look at the nutrition facts on the back of the box and saw that there were only 90 calories per pouch. The second place my eyes drifted to naturally was the sugar content: 12 grams.

The first thing that came to my mind: "That seems like similar macros to fruit."

So, when I got home I decided to measure out 90 calories of strawberries for a quick comparison. Turns out, 1 2/3 cups of strawberries is 90 calories and 13.5 grams of sugar.

So, pretty similar right? But looking past these surface facts about both of these foods, there is a HUGE difference in 3 main things:

1. The TYPE of sugar

Refined sugar vs. natural sugar. Refined sugar (most commonly seen as sucrose or "high fructose corn syrup," which is produced from corn starch and contains a combination of fructose and glucose) is the kind of sugar you find in foods like fruit snacks, white bread, cookies, etc. It is sugar that has been processed and does not contain all of its original ingredients. Some think of refined sugars as "empty calories" because they lack other nutrients and minerals that the body needs.

The sugar found in fruit is called fructose. It is in its most natural state in fruit, and when you consume this sugar that has not been processed or refined you are also receiving fiber, vitamins, and minerals from the whole food itself. Strawberries are the perfect example of this!

2. The micronutrients

Strawberries are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, & manganese. They are also loaded with antioxidants, fiber, & have a high water content to help keep you hydrated.

3. The ingredients in each food

The first ingredients listed in fruit snacks? Sugar, corn syrup, & modified food starch. That means they are the ingredients the food contains the MOST of! The good news about fruits & veggies: there is only ONE whole, natural ingredient: the food itself! And one thing that is extra obvious: the portion sizes. I would much rather fill up on this many strawberries than eat 9 fruit snacks, feel a sugar high, crash, and crave more sugar! I just LIKE to eat and I have a sweet tooth, so fruits like strawberries that are lower in calories and sugar, provide my body with the nutrients it needs, AND satisfy my sugar cravings are a dream come true.

What are you fueling your body with? Look past the macros and think about the QUALITY of the foods you are eating and how they will make you feel. Your body will thank you!


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How do you decide which snack is the best choice for you? What are your thoughts after reading this post? Leave a comment below. I want to hear from you!

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