It happens a few times a day, and you’ll never know when it will strike next: the munchies. Mid-morning, early afternoon, and even late night snacking never seemed to be things I could shake free of, no matter what I tried. What can I say? I’m a foodie. But just because you love to snack, doesn’t mean you have to settle for junk food.
Here are 10 foods that will satisfy that craving while keeping you fit in both body and mind. We’ll even make a few comparisons along the way for good measure. Oh – you mine as well get your snack now; you’ll be hungry after reading!
Number 1. Drop the Twix, Pick up the Mix
Convinced eating that candy bar will actually turn you back from a diva and “satisfy your hunger”? Think again. Truth is, most candy contains around 200-300 calories, trans fats, and tons of sugar. A good alternative is some healthy trail mix. If you can’t manage without some chocolate, simply get the mix with chocolate chips included. The best choice is organic and all-natural, so there aren’t any sprays or sugar added, but overall it will be better for you to enjoy dried fruits than a pure chocolate and caramel bar. You’ll get energy and a happy stomach!
Number 2. Veggies…but delicious
Keep a box or reusable bag full of some bite size vegetables for when you’re looking to get rid of that hunger. Vegetables, as we know, contain essential vitamins and minerals, and are overall good for the body, containing little fat and sugar. For density, go ahead and include some type of spread – peanut butter or cream cheese will work, just be conservative in your portioning. Reduce your risk for chronic diseases – eat more vegetables!
Number 3. Fresh Juice, not energy drinks
Please, oh please do not drink 32 oz of “raw energy”. Energy drinks are perhaps the worst thing for you body, with literally nothing in them that qualifies as healthy. Some advertise they contain vitamins and nutrients to keep you energized, but really it’s that taurine, caffeine, and sugar, which can all make you more irritable and have trouble sleeping.
Instead, keep a few oranges and/or tangerines around and juice them when you’re looking for some natural energy. The juice will be better than store bought brands, and the flavor, if you’ve never had real fresh-squeezed OJ, is amazing. Loaded with the stuff our body needs, juice is the way to go for drinks!
Number 4. Chips, dips, and fun
Chips and dip can also be a great snack food, but only if it’s done right – no bean dip in a can, please. Unless you can find an organic or all natural alternative, most dips are rough on the body. Fresh salsa and homemade hummus (or even store bought versions, if organic and fresh) are actually quite healthy for you. Salsa, on the one hand, contains tons of nutrients from tomatoes, chilies, onions, lime and lemon juices, and fresh garlic. Likewise, hummus proves itself a safe snack food. The chickpeas in hummus contain no cholesterol or saturated fats, and it is full of protein, antioxidants, and healthy omegas.
Number 5. Mini-pizza, but not those found in the frozen food isle…
Like our dips, if done right, pizza can also be healthy for you – homemade being the best option. The tomato sauce can be fresh and hearty (meaning it’s full of nutrients), the dough provides you with some carbohydrates for energy, the cheese helps with protein, and the toppings – maybe meats or veggies – add substance and nutrients of their own.
Number 6. Fruits galore!
Let’s not forget about fruits! This is the place to go for fiber, potassium, vitamins, and best of all, sweetness. When you have a sweet tooth, replace the candy with fruits. Sometimes I’ll even glaze mine a little bit in a pan with some honey!
Number 7. Yogurt + Cereal = Delicious
Yogurt is extremely healthy alone, providing a great source of calcium and vitamin D as well as live cultures to help the stomach. Watch out for “fruit on the bottom” brands though – they defeat the purpose by adding in preservatives and sugar-infused fruits. Instead, just add fresh fruit. Or, as an alternative to that, use your favorite cereal (if it goes along with it). You’ll be able to get a serving of grains in with your meal, meaning an addition of fiber, protein, vitamins like folate, and tons of minerals.
Number 8. Lightweight and Healthy
Popcorn, without pounds of butter and salt, can be a great snack food too. For one, popcorn is high in polyphenols, the natural plant chemicals that make tea, red wine, and olive oil healthy for you. In addition to that, they are in the same whole grain group as barley, brown rice, and millet. Three cups of popcorn is one whole serving, which is easy to do in one sitting! Just be very light on that butter and salt!
Number 9. Move to the smoothie groove
Smoothies, rich in a diversity of fruits, some vegetables, and yogurt, can be a healthy, satisfying pseudo-meal. They are better than multi-vitamins, and they give you control over the nutrients you’d like to emphasize. Smoothies truly are the best (and maybe, most delicious) way to get the vitamins and minerals you need.
Number 10. Classic Cheese and Crackers
That’s right – even classic cheese and crackers can be healthy to snack on as long as they are a healthy brand. Get some 7-grain style crackers and low fat cheeses. This provides you with a great source of fiber, proteins, calcium, and even some vitamins like vitamin B. The quality of cheese will depend on the quality of milk and it’s processing, so always go for the organic, all-natural styles of cheese. Cheese can also help those who are trying to gain weight in a healthy manner!
Whatever your choice, just remember: next time you get the munchies, reach for the food – not the “snacks” huge distributors produce for you.