5 Tips for Choosing Autoimmune-Friendly Packaged Snacks
Let’s face it, life is busy! Between work, family, friends, and everything else on your plate, you’ve got a lot going on. When you’re starving because it’s 3:00 and you haven’t had a chance to eat since breakfast, it’s hard to stay on track. I know. I’ve been there. If you’re following The Myers Way® Autoimmune Solution protocol, it can be especially tricky to navigate the grocery store for autoimmune-friendly snacks. Gluten and dairy hide behind confusing names on ingredient labels. Additionally, many “convenience” foods contain grains, nuts and seeds, and other inflammatory ingredients that can affect autoimmune conditions. This is why I’m sharing 5 tips for choosing autoimmune-friendly snacks.
While you should aim to eat real, whole foods as much as possible, like those found in The Autoimmune Solution Cookbook, I understand that when you’re on the go sometimes you just need a convenient, prepackaged snack. Although the world has been flooded with packaged snacks marked as organic, Paleo, and autoimmune protocol (AIP) friendly, it really comes down to reading and understanding ingredient labels. Many packaged foods are not really food at all. Products labeled “non-GMO,” “all-natural,” or “gluten-free” can be loaded with sweeteners, preservatives, and other processed junk. A product might be Paleo diet-friendly, however, it could contain non-AIP ingredients. It’s important to be aware of all the ingredients in those as well.
That’s why, when it comes to autoimmune-friendly snacks, the key is to prepare for success. I’ve compiled the following tips to help you make smart choices when shopping for autoimmune-friendly packaged snacks. Now those little pick-me-ups can be part of a healthy meal plan.
1. Look for High-Protein Snacks
Research has shown that adding more protein to your diet helps you lose weight by sending the “stop eating” signal to your brain.1 Many snacks, especially those advertised as “nutrition” bars are really desserts masquerading as health food. Packed with carbs and sweeteners and lacking the necessary protein to keep you full, these snack bars will cause a huge insulin spike. When your blood sugar plummets, you’ll be hungry again, leading you to search for another quick fix. Even natural sweeteners including maple syrup, honey, and molasses can have this effect on your blood sugar. In the long term, you will begin to feel sluggish, gain weight, and you may even be setting yourself up for insulin resistance.
Choosing a high-protein snack helps you avoid overeating or derailing your progress. For those of you who have completed the reintroduction phase of The Autoimmune Solution protocol, my Chewy Chocolate Paleo Bar is perfectly balanced to handle those between-meal cravings. This travel-friendly snack contains 12 grams of clean-sourced, grass-fed, beef protein per bar. It’s perfect for between meals and before or after a workout.
2. Look for Snacks High in Fiber and Healthy Fats
When looking for grab-and-go options, you also want to choose a snack that contains plenty of healthy fats and fiber to keep you satisfied until your next meal and avoid a sugar crash. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that people with diabetes who ate 50 grams of fiber a day were better able to control their blood glucose levels than those who ate significantly less.2 Healthy fats are necessary for providing your body with the energy it needs to work properly, assist with vitamin absorption, and support your body’s inflammatory response.3
My Coconut Joy Fiber Bars are an excellent way to keep you full, energized, and focused. Plus, they can satisfy any cravings for something sweet! These decadent chocolate-covered coconut bars contain 11-13 grams of prebiotic fiber to support a healthy gut microbiome and help blood sugar balance. They are also rich in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) to support fat burning and weight control.
You can use any of these bars to keep you satiated once you’ve started the reintroduction phase of The MyersWay®.
3. Read the Label and When in Doubt, Go Without
Ingredient labels will be your roadmap for navigating the snack aisle. Avoid any products that contain:
- Dairy (including whey protein)
- Corn (including corn flour, cornmeal, and high-fructose corn syrup)
- Gluten-free grains and pseudo-grains (amaranth, millet, rice, oats, quinoa)
- Nightshades (tomato, pepper, eggplant, potatoes)
- Nuts, nut butters, and seeds
- Legumes (beans, garbanzos, lentils, peas, peanuts)
- Vegetable or seed oils
Gluten is the biggest culprit to keep an eye out for when scrutinizing food labels. It can hide under the following additives and preservatives in packaged snacks:
- Artificial coloring
- Baking powder
- Caramel and other colors/flavors
- Citric acid (which can be fermented from wheat, corn, molasses, or beets)
- Glycerides and diglycerides
- Emulsifiers and stabilizers
- Fat replacements
- Food starch, modified food starch, and wheat starch
- Glucose syrup
- “Natural flavors”
- Vegetable protein
Be sure to routinely read labels, even on products you buy often. Companies could change the ingredients in their products at any time. If a product contains an ingredient that is unfamiliar to you or you’re unsure whether or not it contains ingredients that are not The Myers Way® approved, you’re better off skipping it. It is not worth derailing your progress and risking a potential flare of nasty symptoms. Remember—when in doubt, go without.
4. Prepare for Success
Going to the grocery store and navigating shelves lined with seemingly endless choices can be overwhelming. Your best bet for making smart choices in the snack aisle is to prepare a list of options you know are AIP approved. Some of my favorite ready-made snacks include:
- Avocado or other fresh fruit
- Coconut yogurt (such as Culina)
- Organic freeze-dried fruit
- Vital Choice wild salmon jerky
- Organic Gemini Tigernuts
- Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato Chips
- Bone broth
- Epic Hickory Smoked Bacon Bites or Pork Rinds
- Unsweetened coconut chips
- Artisana Raw Coconut Butter Squeeze Packs
- Plantain chips (such as Terra)
The above brands have clean ingredient lists and taste great! However, you can certainly choose similar snacks made by other companies. Just be sure the brands you choose are certified organic, gluten-free, and don’t contain any inflammatory or toxic foods.
I recommend pairing foods that have lower amounts of protein and healthy fats with a snack that is higher in those nutrients to make it more satisfying (such as freeze-dried fruit mixed with coconut yogurt).
5. Make Your Own
The best strategy to ensure your snacks are autoimmune-friendly is to make them yourself. That way, you can choose only healthy, clean, real-food ingredients that you know will not trigger an immune response and move you further up the spectrum. Plus, you can custom make them to your own tastes, and probably save a few bucks too!
For some great snack ideas along with more than 150 other recipes specially designed to prevent and reverse the full spectrum of autoimmune diseases, you’re going to love my book, The Autoimmune Solution Cookbook.
With a little planning, snacks—prepackaged or homemade—can definitely be part of an autoimmune diet!