What to Eat to Beat Your Cravings

Next time you're craving something salty or sweet, try these healthy snack recipes instead

Rummaging through the kitchen for that bag of chips you hid the other night? Or perhaps you’re digging out your freezer to unearth the pint of Cherry Garcia lurking in the back. ‘There are many different triggers for cravings,’ says Susan Watson, a registered dietitian in Winnipeg. ‘There’s stress, emotions, hunger, a lot of times people have cravings when they’re bored or they’re multitasking while eating and not recognizing when they’re satisfied. As they can be enticed by something that looks good, such as that bowl of candy on your desk or the food you’re seeing on TV.’ But are there better choices we could make that would both fight the cravings, yet satisfy our sweet or salty urges?

Before you decide, do remember the golden rule of healthy snacking. ‘A healthy snack recipe has protein in it and a carbohydrate, such as an apple and a piece of cheese or apple with peanut butter,’ says Watson. ‘The fibre mixed with the protein helps you fill full.’ Also, don’t go longer than three to four hours without eating because when you’re hungry, you’re more likely to make bad food choices.

If you’re craving salt, try…

Popcorn: ‘But when I make popcorn, I don’t make the air-popped popcorn because nothing’flavourings, etc.’will stick to it,’ says Gina Sunderland, a Winnipeg-based registered dietician. ‘I have a heavy pot and I use a little bit of oil which helps you flavour the popcorn very easily.’

Chickpeas: Hear us out. Take a can of chickpeas, drain and rinse them and give them a spritz of oil and your seasoning of choice (such as Italian or curry) and then bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes. ‘They’re satisfying and they’re also high in both protein and fibre, which will help keep you satiated,’ says Sunderland. (You could also turn this into a sweet snack by drizzling on a bit of honey or maple syrup and cinnamon.)

Kale chips: These have been enjoying the position of snack du jour for sometime now. But they’re simpler’and cheaper’to make at home over their store-bought counterparts. ‘Just rinse some kale and lay them out on a sheet and give them a light spray of oil,’ says Sunderland. ‘Then bake them in a 350 oven for seven to eight minutes.’ You can also make those types of chips with other vegetables such as zucchini with a sprinkle of parmesan, notes Watson.

Edamame: Skip the salty edamame though notes Watson’instead, boil up some bagged high-protein frozen beans, drain and sprinkle parmesan on them for an Asian-Italian twist on your snack.

If you’re craving sweet, try…

Granola: Though opt for homemade. ‘There are lots of different recipes online and I usually just add a little less sugar or honey and really pack in the chopped nuts, oats, flax and dried fruit,’ says Sunderland. ‘We’ll eat it as a snack with a little milk or Greek yogurt or I’ll take a little bag with me and eat that instead of cookies.’

Carbonated water: ‘Pop is a sugar craving a lot of people have so  try taking some carbonated water and putting in a small amount of juice to flavour it,’ says Watson. ‘You can that mouth bubbles feel that you get from pop and the sweetness from the juice.’

Frozen fruit: Instead of ice cream, I take a frozen banana and some frozen strawberries and Greek yogurt and put that through a blender,’ says Watson. Frozen grapes are another easy snack option’they get sweeter in the freezer. Or you could go the other direction and make your own dehydrated apple and banana chips, which will also give you a sweet kick.

Apples and peanut butter: Again, the equation of this snack equals satiety made up from the fibre and carbohydrate of the apple mixed with the protein of the peanut butter. You could make mini sandwiches of apples and peanut butter. ‘Or you could put a few dark chocolate chips on top of them too,’ says Watson.

Originally Published in Best Health Canada