Even if you've followed a strict fitness and diet program for weeks, everyone gets hit with sudden food cravings. Whether you're a victim of late-night salt urges or post-workout sugar pangs, you don't have to destroy your progress by giving in. We offer you healthier alternatives to some of your favorite guilty snacks. Remember, moderation is key, but when you need to satisfy your hunger, don't start shoveling your face with potato chips and cake—try one of these instead.
YOU WANT POTATO CHIPS: Just 1 oz. of kettle cooked potato chips (approximately 15 chips) have 150 calories and 9 grams of fat. A standard bag of chips is 8 oz., so it's easy to let a chip binge get out of control. TRY INSTEAD:
- Baked potato chips are, in moderation, a decent alternative to fried or kettle-cooked chips. With 120 calories per ounce, the calorie content is comparable, but they only have 4.5 grams of fat.
- 1 oz. of air-popped popcorn kernels, which pops up to over 3 cups, has just 110 calories, 1.3 grams of fat and has 4 grams of fiber.
- While nuts and seeds (almonds, peanuts, soy, sunflower seeds, cashews) are calorie-dense—they contain between 120 and 190 calories per ounce—they're high in fiber and good fats, and will also make you feel fuller, longer than starchy chips.
- Another way to satisfy a salt craving is with briny foods like olives, low-sodium dill pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi, a Korean spicy pickled cabbage dish. Six olives have just 20 calories and 1.5 grams of fat, pickles have zero calories, while sauerkrat and kimchi have under 15 calories per 2-oz. serving.
- Seaweed snacks are a good alternative to chips if you want a crunch without any guilt. A 6-oz. package has just 30 calories.
- Rice snacks have just 38 calories and 1.5 grams of fat per serving.
- Pita chips, while also comparable in calories (110 per ounce), have just 3.5 grams of fat.
YOU WANT FRENCH FRIES or ONION RINGS: One small order of McDonald's french fries (2.5 oz.) has 230 calories and a whopping 11 grams of fat. A small order of Burger King onion rings (approximately 2 oz.) has 180 calories and 9 grams of fat. TRY INSTEAD:
- One cup of edamame (boil shelled or unshelled for 3–5 mins and sprinkle with sea salt) has 189 calories and 8 grams of fat, but it's packed with 8 grams of fiber and 17 grams of protein.
- Opting for a traditional baked potato (or microwaved: slit potato lengthwise three times and cook on high for 10–15, depending on size) instead of fried, will give you 161 calories, less than a gram of fat and 4 grams of fiber.
- Another option is to snack on multigrain flatbread or pita bread with your choice of hummus or Greek yogurt spread. Both have approximately 25 calories per tablespoon.
YOU WANT HOT DOGS: One hot dog has 150 calories and 14 grams of fat before you even add the bun. They also contain sodium nitrite, a potentially cancer-causing preservative. TRY INSTEAD:
- Smoked salmon has just 99 calories and 4 grams of fat for a 3-oz. serving. Eat it on multi-grain bread with a dollop of yogurt dill dip.
- Deli meat is never an ideal choice because some contain sodium nitrite, but opt for low-sodium or sodium-free deli meat on multi-grain bread with mustard, which contains just 5 calories per serving.
- Make your own shrimp and spinach wrap. Pan fry shrimp for just a few minutes until they turn pink, add to a 100% whole wheat wrap with fresh spinach and cilantro and a dollop of mayonnaise. A 3-oz. serving of shrimp has just 84 calories and 1 gram of fat, but it's high in cholesterol, so should be eaten in moderation.
YOU WANT RAMEN: A package of ramen contains between 350 to 400 calories and approximately 14 grams of fat. The soup base also contains MSG, a flavor enhancer that has been shown to cause nerve damage. TRY INSTEAD:
- Canned low-sodium minestrone is a better option with just 82 calories per cup and 2.5 grams of fat, but always be sure to make sure it doesn't have MSG.
- Chicken noodle soup is another healthier choice at 60 calories per cup and 2.3 grams of fat.
- Or make your own miso soup with buckwheat noodles. Add 1/4 cup shiro miso paste (find at any health or Asian food store), 1/4 cup scallions, a cup of cooked buckwheat noodles and a dash of soy sauce. Bring soup to a low simmer—do not boil—until the miso is dissolved. Miso soup has just 45 calories and 1 gram of fat per cup while buckwheat noodles have about 113 calories per cup.