Health Food Shop Snacks & Chocolate Bars
This page will give you guidance for shopping for sugar free snacks and chocolate bars in health food shops - or SEMI health food shops as they should be known!
The truth is that so many products are marketed as healthy, but contain sweeteners such as rice syrup or agave nectar that are as bad or more harmful to you as processed sugar.
If you live in the UK, this page will provide you with a shopping list that you can use today.
If you live outside the UK, and cannot buy the products mentioned below, this page will still be useful, because I am going to give you guidance on reading the labels in your own country's health food shops.
PLEASE let me know by email (info @ theshiftinside.com) or in the Facebook group if you find other products - either in the UK or elsewhere. Confused? Take a photo of the label and I will check it out for you.
The rest of this section comprises 2 parts: (1) general guidance on reading labels to avoid unhealthy 'fake' sweeteners and (2) my pick of the best sugar replacement snacks available in the UK.
How To Read The Label
- general guidance on avoiding fake unhealthy sweeteners
When you pick up that tasty-looking bar in your local health food shop, treat it like you would a first date: find out more before you trust it enough to go further (second date, or in this case, purchase).
Fortunately this is easier with health food bars and healthy chocolate than with dates (well, in my experience anyway...).
The quick way to avoid fake unhealthy sugars in health bars is to look for products that are sweetened with the following:
Now, there may be other sweeteners that will not send you on The Sugar Rollercoaster, but I have found that most health food shops stock at least one or two products sweetened with stevia and maltitol.
If you have more time, you can read the labels with your smartphone in hand and research them. I like the Authority Nutrition site and trust their information.
A Few Top Tips
The fewer the ingredients a product has, the more you can trust it. Also I don’t trust ingredients written in tiny, tiny font (see below).
Think in terms of trusting brands you have researched (like PHD, NAKD and Diablo) instead of blindly trusting health food stores.
The less processed sugar you eat, the more you can start to trust your reactions to foods. One day I was in a hurry (and tired and hungry) in the supermarket and bought a healthy chocolate bar. Within 5 minutes I was feeling too buzzy and anxious and headachy. Yup, I had missed the words ‘agave nectar’ when I skimmed the ingredients list without my reading glasses.
The sweeteners mentioned above should be eaten in moderation. While you may need to rely on them every day during your two-week kickstarter, it is unwise to make them a daily staple long term. Make sure you try the cake, mousse and other replacements. The recipes are there for a reason!
Print out the Hidden Sugars Checklist and take it with you when you go shopping. This may be a bit time consuming at first, but you will probably find that when you discover two or three products you like that fit the above criteria, there is little more work to do.
FRUIT JUICE: not good. See this episode of The Eating Coach for full details. However, there is no need to go completely cold turkey right now on fruit juice. If you are a chocoholic, the triumph and confidence you will experience through eliminating chocolate for two weeks is a springboard for doing the same with OJ etc. One thing at a time.
If you really cannot eliminate juice as well as other sources of sugar, then I advise diluting it with carbonated water. Remember The Pauly Principle - you CAN retrain your tastebuds to automatically accept OJ and soda etc.
My Pick of The Best Snacks
PHD Chocolate Brownie Smart Bars
At £2.50 each, these are the most expensive sugar free bar I have found. Delicious. Cut them up and eat veeeeeeeeery slooooooooowwwwwllllly. I found them not in the snack section, but the fitness supplement section of Holland and Barrett. They are often on offer.
UPDATE: I saw these in my local Sainsbury's in the pharmacy section the other day
Bizarrely, PHD do not have a page dedicated to this particular wonder product, but here is their website: https://www.phd-supplements.com/
The Lite Company Belgian Milk Chocolate
I got this for £1.99 in The Grape Tree. My kids absolutely love this and I use it as icing on cakes. Very delicious. The Lite Company also do other versions, so check them out.
Toasted Coconut Flakes
Do you know why crisps are so addictive? Apparently the crunchy sound that chewing them produces also produces dopamine, the happy neurochemical we know so well from The Sugar Rollercoaster. Toasted coconut chips may also do the same - I like the crunch, but there is no price to pay. Let me know what you think! I got these from The Grape Tree, but you can toast coconut flakes at home by dry frying them or grilling on half heat. NB If you are buying them always check the label - as some producers may add sugar.
4 & 5
NAKD Bars and Coconut Bliss
NAKD are the least expensive of all the real healthy snacks and widely available in British supermarkets (75p a bar). When I went off sugar, I lived on NAKD bars. Not everyone loves them - but they are still amazing chopped up and added to any of the 5 minute breakfasts, chocolate cake or cheesecake (recipe coming soon).
Here is a really well explained page showing the difference between NAKD and normal cereal bars: https://www.naturalbalancefoods.co.uk/discover-more/new-to-nakd-trek/
6 & 7
Diablo Chocolate Bar and Wafer Bar
I really like Diablo - virtually no difference in taste between them and The Lite Company, and a bit cheaper - plus I have seen Diablo products in supermarkets. I got these 2 bars from The Grape Tree.
The above is not an exhaustive list. If you find something particularly delicious, please let me know!
Free Hidden Sugars Checklist
- The 6 main offenders in virtually every health food store
- 42 other 'fake healthy' sweeteners
- The 'health' drink that is more harmful than Coke
- Which alternatives are OK in moderation
- Why you should avoid artificial sweeteners
- all on 1 handy page to print and stick on your fridge