Picture this scenario: It is the weekend and you are relaxing on the couch in front of the TV. After strenuous hours of intense remote clicking, your stomach begins to grumble. What is the first snack that you reach for to satisfy your hunger? In an ideal world, we would all be good to our bodies and eat some fruit to hold us over until the next meal. However, chances are you reach for your favorite sweet or salty indulgence. So you plop back down onto the couch, and proceed mindlessly munching. Before you know it, you are staring into the shiny aluminum lining of the family sized bag that you finished yourself, left with nothing but feelings of guilt along with scattered crumbs and cheese coated fingers signifying the aftermath of an all out snacking rampage.
By the time dinner rolls around, your appetite is shot and you are reminded of the awful deed that you have committed not too long ago. It's understandable because snack foods taste great; plain and simple. However, it is these very foods that also ruin your appetite, cause bad eating habits, and are ultimately detrimental to your health. We all know these are unhealthy and should all be eaten in moderation, yet whenever we need a snack before a meal, we find ourselves reaching for the sugar, the fat, the salt, the MSG. This is not to say that no one should ever eat any unhealthy snacks. Much like many other things in life, it is okay in moderation. But by changing your snack habits, not only will you be able to curb your cravings, but you will also notice a substantial difference in your health and energy overall.
MSG can be found in almost any savory snack food. Why? Because it's the best flavor enhancer. The inconvenient truth is that the better your snack food tastes, the more likely it is to contain a heavy saturation of unhealthy ingredients. Check your snack cabinet right now and briefly skim over some of the labels; you will be surprised as to just what is going into these delicious snacks. Whether it is MSG, high fructose corn syrup, or "natural" colors/flavors, the majority of your favorite snack foods most likely contain unhealthy amounts of these ingredients in them. Surprisingly even those "healthy" energy/granola bars are not all that great for you either. Instead of natural energy derived from the fruits and nuts, these bars all have unnecessary amounts of sugar packed into them, giving you that temporary sugar rush with a hard crash later.
So how do you replace your favorite snacks with healthier options? Luckily you don't need to sacrifice too much. For starters, fruit is a great way to get natural sugars for some energy. Instead of buying trail mix at the store, try to make your own with dried fruit, nuts, and a little bit of chocolate. One of my personal favorite combinations is toasted almonds, craisins, banana chips, and white chocolate morsels. Instead of getting EXTRA MOVIE THEATER BUTTER WITH MORE BUTTER, get plain popcorn and add your own favorite seasonings. Try dusting it with some yellow curry powder, cayenne pepper, or garlic salt; they all taste great! As long as you remember the one rule of moderation, you will begin to phase the worst snacks out of your diet and eventually you won't crave them as much. Eventually you will notice that all of the unhealthy snack foods contain ingredients that you can buy separately and turn them into a healthier option. Tell us about some cool snack ideas that you have come up with!