There's no way of getting around it; most of us munch between meals. In general, "munching between meals can actually reduce your overall caloric intake by curbing overeating at your next meal...[it] can help you stay on track. (Noelcke) However, a lot of individuals struggle with their health/ fitness progression, because of their snacking. In order to progress/ maintain your health you must recognize your snack cravings and do your best to make healthy snack decisions. Thanks to Joseph Erdos of Kitchen Daily here are some alternatives to some of the most common snack cravings:
1. Popcorn vs. Chips: Popcorn (without butter, of course) is a great alternative when you feel the need to munch on chips. Despite, the fact that popcorn generally has more sodium content than chips, it has less calories, fat, and carbohydrates - Overall, "1 oz. [of chips] provides 150 calories, while 2 cups of popcorn provides 110 calories… 1 oz. of chips contains 10 g of fat and 2 cups of popcorn contains 6 g of fat. ..If you are following a low-carbohydrate diet, chips are worse, as 1 oz. contains 15 g of carbohydrates, while 2 cups of popcorn contains 12.6 g of carbohydrates." (Willet, May 26, 2011)
When I snack on popcorn I add cayenne pepper, garlic, butter flavor, and a little bit of salt. It's tasty and it satisfies my craving for chips.
2. French Fries vs. Pretzel Sticks: Eating french fries raises your bad cholesterol levels. Pretzel sticks are a much better alternative--choose the whole-wheat kind. Pair them with a wrap sandwich and you have a healthy lunch option.
While, I do like pretzels, I can't seem to give up my french fries. So, when I really want to eat some french fries I make them at home. I cut 1 potato into french fries and then place them into boiling water for a few minutes, so that some of the starch comes out. Then, I rinse them and place them in the oven with 1 tbsp. of olive oil and some seasonings. At the end my homemade backed french fries contains approximately 230 calories. Not bad, right? It's healthier than fried french fries that you would get from a fast-food place and they taste better.
3. Cookies vs. Rice Cakes: Rice cakes are a good alternative to cookies. Many brands have sweet versions, but you can also jazz up plain rice cakes by spreading them with your favorite nut butter. Also try brown rice cakes, which offer more fiber.
I like to eat Quaker's Caramel Corn Rice Cakes, which contains 50 calories.
4. Ice Cream vs. Yogurt: Who doesn’t crave ice cream from time to time? I know I do. However, not only are many ice creams high in saturated fat, they also contain corn syrup and artificial flavorings or colorings. Try frozen yogurt or plain yogurt instead. But if you don't like it plain, take a cue from the Greeks and enjoy your yogurt with a spoonful of honey or stir in a spoonful of natural applesauce or fruit preserves.
My diet consists of Dannon’s Light & Fit Vanilla flavored yogurt, which contains 80 calories; I like to add granola and fresh fruit to it, which makes it contain approximately 200 calories.
5. Doughnuts/ Cakes vs. Fresh Fruit: These breakfast favorites are easy to reach for, especially when there's a box of them at the office. Store-bought doughnuts are coated with sugar and are loaded with trans fat, making them very bad for your long-term health. If you're looking for a sweet snack, turn to fresh fruit.
My favorite fruits to snack on are: strawberries, blackberries, banana's, apples, and grapes. Recently, I've taken a great liking to Muscadine Grapes.
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Content mostly by J. Erdos; Images by C. Kelbaugh