The old saying goes: “a little of what you fancy does you good” but when it comes to food, is this wise advice? Today, Nikki looks at how to combat sweet and savoury cravings without causing damage to your health and waistline.
If you have ever been on a bid to lose weight, you will know that desserts, chips, junk food, cakes and sweets are the first to go when slashing the calories.
But according to experts, you should be allowing yourself at least one a day.
Research has shown that starving yourself of the things you love best has a negative impact on your mental health, creating bad vibes associated with dieting which more often than not causes people to fall off the wagon and binge.
What is important to remember however, is to pay attention to portion sizes, build up physical activity to allow for any extra calories and to try to choose healthier options.
How to treat yourself well
- Pick wisely
Believe it or not, some of the most sinful treats can be extremely nutritious. But the key to having a sweet treat or salty snack is to pick wisely. Read the nutrition label. Snacks which provide some nutrients, especially ones that tend to be missing in our diets like fibre, calcium, and whole grains are the best choice. Choose baked chips, low-fat baked goods, and deserts made with dark chocolate, nuts, or dried fruit.
- Rely on Mother Nature.
Choosing fruit-based puddings is a good rule to stick to because fruit is naturally sweet, abundant this time of year and super nutritious.
- Less is more.
Variety may be the spice of life, but when it comes to controlling calories, less is more. The greater the variety of food, the more you want to eat, studies show. So limit what treats you allow in your house and restrict your treats to one type of biscuit, candy, crisp, or ice cream.
- Portion control.
Try making your own grab-n-go snack packs. Buy economy sized bags of baked chips, tortilla chips or biscuits and then divide them into individual baggies – your allowance for the day.
- Modify your recipes.
Just because you are watching your waistline, does not mean you can’t indulge in your favourite things. The key is to modify what you put into it to make it healthier. Try swapping chips for sweet potato wedges, using wholegrain pastry or swapping sugar for natural sweeteners.
How to satiate a salt craving
If you regularly crave salty foods, it could mean your sodium levels are too low. Sodium is an essential mineral needed to maintain blood pressure and essential amounts of water.
If you consume too much sodium, however, you are increasing your risk for hypertension and cardiovascular disease. So understanding why you crave salty foods so that you can modify your behavior can keep you out of harm’s way.
Excessive sweating can be one reason and in women, the menstrual cycle can cause sodium depletion. If you have concerns about your cravings, speak to your GP.
Here are my top ten snacks to fend off a savoury craving without a lot of added fat or sugar – and each one is less than 200 calories.
- 25 almonds (176 calories).
- Two teaspoons of hummus with three carrot sticks (80 calories).
- Two rice cakes topped with three teaspoons tomato salsa (105 calories)
- 100g of steamed endamame beans sprinkled with salt (70 calories)
- 50g beef jerky (147 calories)
- 25g Skinny seasalt microwave popcorn (108 calories)
- A tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter with celery sticks (97 calories)
- A tablespoon roasted pumpkin seeds (87 calories)
- Four Rivita wholegrain crackers with 35g of light cream cheese (143 calories)
- 100g cottage cheese with cucumber sticks (103 calories)
How to satisfy a sweet tooth
I’ve always been one of those people that needs something sweet after dinner. But sticking to just a small, sweet snack can be tricky.
Let’s be honest: Anything that seriously satisfies our sweet tooth isn’t going to be the epitome of a healthy meal.
Having said that, I’ve come up with five sugary puds which won’t destroy your diet – again all for under 200 calories.
- Five chocolate-dipped strawberries.
Choose dark chocolate, dip and let set in the refrigerator until the chocolate coating has hardened. (196 calories)
- Half a frozen chocolate banana.
Bananas are a great source of vitamins C and B6, and are also packed with fibre and potassium. Peel a banana, cut into two equal halves, and freeze. Once solid, take out and roll in two squares worth of melted dark chocolate. While the chocolate’s still melty, roll in whichever crunchy topping you like—sprinkles and nuts work well. Return to the freezer until the chocolate is set. (200 calories).
- Fresh fruit
Can’t get more simple than this. Any piece of fresh fruit should offer enough natural sugar to fill those cravings. Plus, it’s definitely the healthiest choice and you get added nutrients and fibre. (All choices are under 200 calories)
- Chocolate milk.
Not only is chocolate milk a great way to fit a hint of sweetness into your day, research shows it’s actually an effective post-workout recovery drink, too. My advice is to try a protein chocolate milk. At Deluxe Nutrition we have a 100% protein shake in chocolate flavour which is 112 calories for a 30g scoop and has the added benefit of a protein whack.
- Frozen Greek Yogurt Drops
Use 100g worth of Greek yoghurt and mix with 80g frozen berries. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and drop 1/4 teaspoons of the mixture onto the sheet, leaving enough room between each drop so they don’t touch. Freeze for a few hours until solid and pour all the drops into a plastic baggie. Store in the freezer until you’re ready to snack. (195 calories)