It’s late. You can’t sleep. You’re catching up on season 2 of Orange is the New Black … and a craving hits. You want chocolate … candy… ice cream … something that will satisfy your sweet tooth.
Or maybe you’ve got a craving for something salty.
Bring it on, right?
Not on my new healthy eating plan, Dr. Steve, is what you’re thinking.
Good for you for wanting to do the right thing. But that doesn’t mean the cravings just disappear.
What do you do when that hankering hits?
Have a plan!
That is why we put together a snack swap chart. So no matter what you absolutely HAVE to eat, you can reach for a healthy alternative instead.
|If you crave||Eat this instead||Why?||You’ll save|
Flavor tip: Lightly spray with olive oil and sprinkle black pepper, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, or other favorite seasoning.
Three cups of popcorn takes up much more room in your bowl (and stomach) than a small handful of potato chips, so it will seem and feel like you’re eating more.
Nutrition news: A 100-calorie snack of popcorn is over 3 times more effective at curbing hunger than the same calorie intake from almonds, party mix or pretzels, according to 1 study.1
½ cup shelled
Flavor tip: Lightly sprinkle with sea salt (if you aren’t prone to fluid retention or high blood pressure).
These small legumes are an excellent source of protein, which helps suppress cravings. They also pack a hefty dose of fiber and house powerful bioactive isoflavones, which scientists have discovered may exhibit anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and bone health benefits.
Nutrition news: Researchers continue to add to the growing body of research in favor of the cardio-protective benefits of including whole soy foods as part of a heart healthy diet.2
A small slice of
A small slice of angel food cake topped
Flavor tip: Puree some of the strawberries with a bit of yogurt for a delicious sauce!
You can still have your cake and eat it too! Strawberries boast a day’s worth of vitamin C and increase your intake of fiber, potassium, iodine and folate.
Nutrition news: Research shows that strawberries and other berries help reduce the rise in blood sugar that occurs after eating simple sugars.3
Bowl of ice cream
Plain Greek yogurt (¾ cup) topped with RealReds™ Strawberry Phytonutrient powder (1 tablespoon) and dark chocolate chips (1 tablespoon)
Greek yogurt is rich in calcium, B vitamins, zinc and iodine, and it is the perfect creamy substitute for ice cream.
Nutrition news: Greek yogurt contains the healthy fat conjugated linoleic acid, which plays a role in helping the body burn fat.4
A banana split
Sliced banana with 1 teaspoon walnuts
Flavor tip: Drizzle low-fat, no-sugar-added vanilla yogurt over top for minimal calories.
Bananas and walnuts combine to give this treat a heaping dose of potassium, B vitamins and omega-3 fats, minus the artery-clogging fat in the traditional banana split.
Nutrition news: Walnuts are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone produced by the body to help regulate sleep rhythms.3
Chips and cheese dip
Jicama dipped in guacamole
Although it may not seem like you’re saving a lot of calories or fat, you’re trading in unhealthy and deep-fried fat for a hefty dose of heart-healthy fats and a whopping 90% increase in fiber.
Nutrition news: Avocados contain phytosterols, which are unique plant fats that play a key role in controlling inflammation.3
Frozen grapes ½ cup
You’ll still get the sweet chewiness of gummy candy, but none of the artificial preservatives, colorings and refined sugar. Choose purple grapes for their resveratrol content, which is being studied as an anti-aging and cardio-protective nutrient.
Nutrition news: The complex nutrient composition of grapes is now being shown to help provide better blood-sugar balance and insulin regulation.3
RealMeal GF 2 scoops in water
You’ll boost your intake of inulin, a unique prebiotic soluble fiber that helps feed good bacteria for healthy digestion.
Nutrition news: RealMeal GF contains bioactive peptides such as lactoferrin and immunoglobulins, which help bolster your immunity.5
And my personal favorite … chocolate! When I get a craving for milk chocolate, I eat dark chocolate instead. There are plenty of reasons to go to the dark side. Ounce per ounce, dark chocolate has about half the sugar (7 grams versus 15 grams), 3 times the fiber (3 grams versus 1 gram) and more iron, magnesium, potassium and other nutrients to fuel your metabolism than milk chocolate.
But, the real bonus is that dark chocolate is full of beneficial polyphenols, and it only takes a small portion to deliver health benefits.
In 1 study, healthy adults who ate a small portion of polyphenol-rich dark chocolate daily for 2 weeks had significantly better blood-vessel function compared to those munching on a control chocolate without polyphenols.6
What’s your favorite late-night snack? Ask me, and I’ll ask my team for a good substitute.
Dr. Steven Sisskind, M.D.
1. KJ, Ursula T. Lowczyk UT, Meyer MC. Popcorn snack more satiating than almonds, party mix or pretzels. FASEB J. 2012;26:639.2
2.Cena E, Steinberg, F. Soy may help protect against cardiovascular disease. California Agriculture 2011;65(3):118-123.
3.Torronen R, Sarkkinen E, Tapola N, Hautaniemi E, Kilpi K, Niskanen L. Berries modify the postprandial plasma glucose response to sucrose in healthy subjects. Br J Nutr. 2010;103(8):1094-1097. PMID: 19930765.
4.Serafeimidou A, Zlatanos S, Laskaridis K, et al. Chemical characteristics, fatty acid composition and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) content of traditional Greek yogurts. Food Chem. 2012;134(4):1839-1846. PMID: 23442628
5.Mulder AM, Connellan PA, Oliver CJ, et al. Bovine lactoferrin supplementation supports immune and antioxidant status in healthy human males. Nutr Res. 2008;28(9): 583-589. PMID: 19083463.
6.Engler MB, Engler MM, Chen CY, et al. Flavonoid-rich dark chocolate improves endothelial function and increases plasma epicatechin concentrations in healthy adults. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004;23(3):197-204. PMID: 15190043.