Have you ever had those days when cravings hit and you just want to eat everything in sight? Cravings happen even to the healthiest of us. Often, when a craving hits in the afternoon or the evening after dinner, we get the urge to snack. Snacking can be a bad habit to get into, because the snacks we choose are often junky, nutritionally void, and high in calories, sugar, or fat. I call this the "Snack Attack!" and it can sneak up on you like a ninja. There are many different reasons why cravings sneak up on you such as having a lot of stress in your life, lack of sleep, restricting certain foods from your diet too long, or maybe your body is lacking certain vitamins and minerals. It is key to try to identify what is causing your cravings and try to get to the root of the issue. But, I realize that it may not always be easy to pin point exactly what is going on when life gets busy.
So it's up to us to outsmart our cravings before they get the best of us. The trick to snacking without piling on the pounds is to find healthy alternatives to the regular snacks you might normally reach for.
Usually, when we get a craving it is for either something sweet (chocolate!), savory (potato chips!), creamy (ice cream!), or crunchy (crisps!). Obviously, my examples are foods you shouldn’t eat all the time if you want to be trim and healthy. But that doesn’t mean you have to fight your cravings for the rest of your life. Instead, you just need to substitute.
Next time you get a craving for something sweet, why not try:
- fresh organic berries like blueberries, strawberries and rasberries
- apples and almond or sunflower butter
- no sugar added dried fruit and raw almonds
- green smoothies
- banana “ice cream” (peel a banana, freeze, blend in a food processor, top with nuts, berries or unsweetened shredded coconut)
- dates stuffed with almond butter or other nut butter, and top with unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 tbsp organic dark chocolate chips, carob chips or Enjoy Life (soy, dairy & nut free) chocolate chips
For your savory cravings, try these healthy alternatives:
- hard boiled eggs with salt, pepper and salsa
- olives, pickles and pickled vegetables, such as carrot, daikon, beets, and lotus root
- homemade hummus (download my free 3-Day Detox to get this recipe)
- kale chips (recipe below)
- sweet potato chips
- zucchini chips with freshly made salsa or guacamole
- Sauerkraut (this will also knock your sweet craving right out!)
- chopped avocado and tomato with sea salt and pepper
Your creamy cravings can be met by eating:
- chocolate chia pudding
- dips and spreads, like hummus and baba ghanoush
- puréed soups
- puddings made with avocado, or mashed banana
- mashed sweet potatoes
- coconut milk
Finally, don‘t cave and reach for the Pringles, when you can eat these crunchy (but still healthy) snacks:
- frozen grapes
- rice cakes
- organic non-GMO popcorn (use coconut oil and sea salt to pop in a covered pan)
- carrots (particularly the sweet, organic baby carrots)
- celery and nut butter
- raw, unsalted nuts like cashews, almonds, Brazil, and walnuts
- small handful raw sunflower or pumpkin seeds (about 1 tbsp)
Don’t fight your craving. Instead, listen to what it is your body wants specifically and choose the healthier option that will be good to your waistline.
Make sure to keep plenty of these delicious healthy snacks around the house so you don't get in a pinch and grab something you will regret later. Another great way to avoid snacking is also to keep your trigger foods out of the house. When you do decide to splurge on your favorite treats, make sure you only buy as much as you are going to eat right at that moment. That way the bag of treats won't unexpectedly call your name from the kitchen pantry.
Kitchen tips and tricks:
- Pre-cut veggies for quick snacks. Store in airtight, glass containers in the fridge. Make sure to cover celery, carrots and radishes with water so they don't dry out.
- Freeze a few bananas to have on hand for an ice cream snack later in week.
- Never waste another avocado. Put ripe avocados in the refrigerator to stop the ripening process. They can be stored for up to a week in the fridge.
- Measure out and baggie up your nuts and dried fruit ahead of time so that you don't go back for seconds or thirds.
“You cannot change your destination overnight. You can change your direction.” - Jim Rohn
- 1 bunch lacinato kale
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- Heat oven to 350-375 degrees, depending on your oven. The kale chips burn quickly, so keep the temperature on the lower end if your oven tends to get hot or have hot spots.
- Clean kale and remove the thick stem by folding each leaf in half lengthwise and cutting it away. Make sure kale is quite dry.
- Pour a bit of olive oil into a dipping bowl. Dip your fingers in the olive oil and massage over each kale leaf, front and back.
- Arrange kale on several baking sheets making sure not to crowd the leaves. Sprinkle sea salt over the top.
- Bake for 5-7 minutes, keeping an eye on the chips to make sure they don’t burn. Turn the chips over and then bake for another 5 minutes more. You may need more or less time depending on your oven. The chips are ready when they are bright green and haven’t turned brown yet except maybe at the edges.
- Add some flavor by sprinkling smoked paprika, garlic, ginger, cumin, or curry on before baking.