04/12/2012 06:12 EDT | Updated 06/12/2012 05:12 EDT

How to Satisfy Food Cravings

There isn't a day that goes by when I don't have the craving for something with chocolate. Yours may be for bread, pasta, ice cream, cheese or something salty. We all have them. As we know, if we indulge excessively in these "guilty pleasures" this can cause weight gain and can ultimately lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Not a good thing! Are there other foods that will satisfy us in a healthier way? There sure are!


Eating After Dinner

This is a very common habit for most us. We just finished a great dinner and within a couple of hours we are scavenging through the cupboards, fridge and freezer. Try to keep your calories before bed to no more than 200. Keeping this snack healthier will also make you sleep better since sugar and caffeine are stimulants. Try a bowl of yogurt and fruit; a slice of cheese and crackers; or an apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter.

Substitutes for Salty Cravings

Pretzels, potato chips and beef jerky are favourites to enjoy while watching TV or sitting in front of your computer. Salt makes you want more salt and these foods are leading causes of high blood pressure. I like to make my own popcorn and add some sea salt. Forget the packaged, high-sodium popcorn. How about some delicious steamed edamame with a sprinkle of sea or kosher salt? An ounce of cheese and crackers will also satisfy that salt urge.

Substitutes for Anything With Sugar

Gummy bears, Twizzlers, Skittles and Starbursts are addictive and nutritionally empty. When have you ever stopped at one? The sugar gives us a rush momentarily and then a crash. But pop another sweet treat in your mouth and you feel good again. A never-ending cycle! Try some sweet fruit like watermelon, strawberries or melon. Dried fruit, if kept to a minimum, also satisfies a sweet tooth. A bowl of multi-grain cereal with added fruit also quiets a sugar craving.

Creamy Dips for Veggies

You sit down to a healthy bowl of veggies and wreck it all with a high-fat dip made with excess oil, mayonnaise or hydrogenated fats. Those healthy nutrients from carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes go out the window. Try different flavours of hummus (just chickpeas, some oil and seasonings) such as red bell pepper, garlic flavoured and even pesto hummus. Try more exotic vegetables and you'll have one nutritious and delicious snack.

Crunchy Food Substitutes

That crunch in your mouth is very satisfying when munching. Chips, pretzels and popcorn do the trick. How about getting a healthier crunch from a handful of nuts? Add some dried fruit and you'll be crunching away for a while. Or pop your own popcorn by placing a handful of kernels in a paper bag and microwaving for three minutes. Add some kosher salt and a light spray of vegetable oil and you have a longer lasting snack.

Sweet Beverages High in Calories

Are you trying to get off pop, soda and fruit cocktail beverages? It's easy to down a couple of these sugared drinks in one sitting. Try Perrier or soda water along with some ice and sliced lemons, limes or oranges. The fizz and fresh flavours are a healthy substitute for those sugar beverages.