How to Avoid Cravings: 12 Healthy Snacks to Choose From

Snacking, when it’s done right, serves a few purposes. A nutritious, balanced snack can help keep you energized between meals. Small, nutritious snacks can also help control your hunger at mealtimes. However, stressful situations can often lead to mindless snacking or stress eating.

Your body’s response to stress is to send out cortisol, known as the stress hormone. Cortisol sets the body in fight or flight mode, and your brain is alerted that it will need fuel to fight whatever threat is causing the stress. Therefore, you might start craving sugary, salty and fatty foods.

For most of us it’s too easy to find a corner store, a vending machine or even our own kitchen cupboards to satisfy our cravings with foods that are loaded with fat, salt or sugar.

So, here are some suggestions for some alternatives of nutritious snacks that can satisfy whatever you’re craving.

If You’re Craving a Sweet Snack

Sometimes we crave sweets when our energy level is taking a dive. Sometimes we turn to sweets as a treat or a reward. Unfortunately, many sweets can have a very high calorie cost, which is counterproductive if you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

Here are some tips to satisfy the craving without sacrificing good nutrition:

High Protein Snacks

When you’re craving a candy bar, opt for high-protein snacks instead, such as a protein snack bar. Not only can these satisfy your craving for sweets, but it can also control your hunger.

Cooked Fruit

The texture of cooked fruit makes it seem more dessert-like. Try running grapefruit or orange halves under the broiler, roasting peaches or pineapple in the oven, or cooking sliced apples or plums until tender with a spicy-sweet cinnamon or nutmeg.

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Adjusting Your Morning Coffee

In today’s market, many coffee beverages include sugar, fat, and calories, which can offset the inherent benefits of caffeine, such as alertness and a feeling of increased energy. If you have a sweet tooth or simply can’t stand black coffee, go with a latte but have it made with nonfat or low-fat milk. Add a little bit of sweetener, cinnamon, or cocoa powder.

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative, try a glass of High Protein Iced Coffee – a protein and energy-packed refreshment, and with only two grams of sugar per serving.

Chocolate Meal Replacement Shake

If you’re on a weight loss journey, consider using chocolate-flavored protein powder in your meal replacement shake to satisfy your cravings for chocolate.

If You’re Craving a Creamy Snack

Foods with a creamy, smooth texture are pleasurable to eat, and many people associate them with comfort. If you’re looking to satisfy your craving by turning to rich ice cream or high-fat cheeses, then you might want to try one of these alternatives:

Yogurt

Try plain nonfat yogurt mixed with a little honey or maple syrup and topped with fresh fruit.

Frozen Bananas

Peel bananas, wrap in waxed paper, and freeze. Afterwards, you can slice and eat them, or throw them in the blender for a “one ingredient” ice-cream-like treat.

Low-Fat Ricotta Cheese

Blend with a little fruit and a dash of sweetener for a pudding-like treat with some hunger-busting protein.

Chia Pudding

Mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with ½ cup of vanilla soymilk. Let stand for 10 minutes until it starts to thicken, then top with fresh fruit. Or, try this recipe for chia berry pudding.

If You’re Craving a Crunchy or Savory Snack

The craving for foods that are crunchy and salty are sometimes triggered by frustration or stress. That’s because the act of chewing and working the jaw muscles actually relieve tension.

Here are some healthier alternatives that could satisfy that salt-fat craving:

Jerky

Jerky is lean meat that is salted and dried into a chewy, high protein snack. It can also be made from poultry or fish, and there are vegetarian and vegan versions, too. Their chewy texture satisfies the craving for crunch, and the protein content can also help curb hunger.

Cottage Cheese Dip

Whirl nonfat or low-fat cottage cheese in the blender until smooth. Stir in a little dark mustard and use as a dip for crunchy veggies.

Kale Chips

These are easy to make. Remove tough stems, break leaves into bite-sized pieces, wash and dry thoroughly. Toss leaves with a little olive oil and salt, spread on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees, turning occasionally until edges are brown.

Popcorn

After popping, dust with a little low-fat Parmesan cheese or chili powder to satisfy that craving.

Download more Snack Recipe Ideas here!

Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND –Sr.Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training

Susan BowermanM.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Sr. Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training

Susan Bowerman earned a B.S. in biology with distinction from the University of Colorado, and received her M.S. in food science and nutrition from Colorado State University. She is a registered dietitian, holds two board certifications from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as a certified specialist in sports dietetics, and a certified specialist in obesity and weight management, and is a Fellow of the Academy.