Whether you’re fighting that infamous 3 p.m. crash at your cubicle, or need to recharge after chasing after your toddler, reaching for the right snack when a craving hits is crucial to keeping your health (and hips) in check. Staying on the right track when it comes to snacks and cravings is easy with a few simple guidelines. Try a few of the following the next time you’re caught in between meals and need something to nosh on:
Snack time guidelines:
Wait 20 minutes
Cravings and hunger are very different sensations. Hunger builds over time; cravings actually go away after a short while. So sit back, relax and give your mind and body time to figure out what it really needs.
Cravings often arise in times of stress. If you notice a pattern of craving sugary or carb-loaded foods during certain times in your life, or times of the month, take a deep breath and try to calm yourself, and your life down. Go for a walk, listen to music, meditate or pray instead of snacking.
Have a plan
Keep your cabinets, bag, or desk drawers stocked with healthy pre-planned treats, so there are no excuses to run out and buy something dreadfully decadent before dinner.
Go for foods full of water, like fruits, veggies, smoothies or juices. Or add a full glass of water to your snack. It’s filling and fat-free!
Keep it natural
Eat whole foods as much as possible. Try to stay away from processed, refined or artificial ingredients or additives.
Low, slow sugar
Choose low sugar or slow sugar options. Nix the high-fructose corn syrup and stick to naturally sweet fruit, or sweetener like raw honey or agave nectar. Natural sugar substitutes like stevia, xylitol and erythritol are now easily available and affordable.
Add clean, whole proteins to your plate. Protein keeps you full and provides long-lasting balanced energy.
Make sure your carbohydrates come from whole grains, with lots of fiber. Whole ancient grains like quinoa, chia, amaranth, buckwheat and millet are my top picks; plus they’re gluten-free.
Listen to your mother and, “Don’t spoil your dinner.” Keep your snacking calories to a minimum so you don’t overeat for the day.
Even when feeding a craving, you can still keep your nutrient density high. Feel free to add whole food toppings, or natural powders and supplements to your between-meal munchies if they’re lacking. Spices like cinnamon, ginger, clove and turmeric taste great and boast super high-antioxidant values, too!
All-natural fruit and veggie blends or natural diet protein shakes will hit the spot and satisfy that sweet tooth.
Waffle with spread
Pop a frozen whole grain waffle in the toaster and give it a schmear of low-fat cream cheese or hazelnut spread.
Fruit with nut butter
Slice up an apple or banana and serve with a side of almond or cashew butter.
Top a serving of low-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt with diced fruit and natural granola.
Place a few thin slices of your favorite rBST growth hormone-free cheese, some fancy olives, and rolled slices of lunch meat on a small plate — just add toothpicks!
Low-fat spread or olive oil mayo, mustard and a few hard boiled eggs will fill you up and tide you over.
Go for steel cut oats, organic farina, or quinoa flakes. Sweeten with dried fruits and honey, and add texture and protein with chopped nuts.
Add a few tablespoons of whole chia seeds to organic or non-dairy milk. Add natural sweeteners, and coconut, cocoa or fruit for flavor.
These secrets work great for you and your kids. If dinner isn’t ready but their tummies are growling, keep these tips in mind and share the healthy snacking experience with your little ones. It’s never too late to learn or teach good habits.
So remember, try to stick to a few craving guidelines before diving into a sugary, fattening snack trap. Keep your protein and nutrients high, and your fat and calories low. Stay hydrated and keep your carbs complex. And, there’s always abstinence. When it comes to cravings, sometimes it’s best to just sit back and let it pass.