If losing weight is one of your New Year’s resolutions, sooner or later you’ll probably find your resolve tested by an overwhelming desire for something really naughty. Hopefully, you’ll reach for a diet-friendly snack instead. But your chances of heading off dietary disaster will be higher if you choose an alternative that is a good match for your particular craving.
if you’re craving chocolate, for example, another stick of celery is probably not going to do the trick. (Then again, if you’re craving something salty, it just might.)
Here are some foods to help satisfy various cravings without ruining your diet:
If you’re craving chocolate, try:
- A cup of hot cocoa, made with skim or lowfat milk and real cocoa powder. Cocoa powder has all the rich chocolate flavor (and heart-healthy flavonoids) but none of the fat of chocolate
- Chocolate-flavored tea. Available from specialty shops and online retailers, chocolate teas provide rich chocolate-y flavor for zero calories.
If you’re craving something salty and crunchy, try:
- Celery sticks, which are higher in sodium than other vegetables but still very low in sodium–and calories–compared with things like chips and pretzels.
- Dill pickles contain a fair amount of salt but very few calories.
- Air-popped popcorn. You can crunch through an entire bowl for about 100 calories and only 18 grams of carbs. (Bonus: 3 grams of fiber!)
- Warm, homemade tortilla chips. Cut small corn tortillas into triangles, spray with cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes or until crisp.
If you’re craving something fried, try:
- Oven fries. Baked on a cookie sheet with a bit of oil, they have a fraction of the oil and calories of deep-fried potatoes (Try this recipe from Epicurious.com for Salt and Pepper Oven Fries.)
- Oven-“fried” chicken. A crisp coating of bread crumbs and grated cheese makes a great stand-in for greasy fried chicken. Recipe for Oven-“fried” chicken.
If you’re craving something sweet, try:
- Frozen grapes; wash and stem a bunch of fresh grapes, dry thoroughly (important!) and freeze in a zip lock freezer bag. A handful of frozen grapes is low in calories but takes a long time to savor.
- Chew a piece of sugarless gum. Fruity flavors or bubblegum work better than minty ones to satisfy a sweet tooth.
- Dried fruit has an intense, chewy sweetness. A few dried apricots or figs may head off a craving for candy more effectively than a piece of fresh fruit.
If you’re craving something creamy, try:
- Low-fat Greek-style yogurt. Greek yogurt has some of the water strained off, giving it an extra creamy texture. (You can also strain regular low-fat yogurt with a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth.)
- Deviled eggs. Made with low-fat or fat-free mayo, they make a satisfying, creamy (and high protein) snack.
- Skim cappuccino. Skim milk froths up even thicker than whole milk.