Everyone knows that most vegetables are a great snack when dieting but no matter how much you love them, you are eventually going to tire of them. Instead of spending a ton of money on top shelf diet-friendly snacks, there are a lot of alternatives to have around when the munchies strike. If you have health issues such as a heart condition or diabetes you should work with a nutritionist or dietician to plan a meal that allows for healthy snacks. Having suffered a heart attack as well as having diabetes doesn’t slow me down, if anything it pushes me harder to eat better, exercise more and snack smarter.
If you have your blood sugar under control you can be a little more liberal with your snacks but if you are still trying to get your numbers to an acceptable level you are going to want to rely on your food log to see what might be causing your spikes.
Sugar Free Pudding
Most of the sugar free puddings call for a reduced fat milk but I use whole milk to avoid having it breakdown and get watery after a day. A serving of sugar free pudding (one half cup) has about a hundred calories and can be just enough to fight off a craving. If you are lactose intolerant and use a lactose free milk you are not going to get a solid pudding but it is still edible. You can have half a banana with your pudding if you need a larger snack. You are going to want to read the boxes carefully when purchasing a sugar free pudding, some of them are a little high in sodium. The flavors are a little limited when it comes to puddings that are sugar free but I have seen them in butterscotch, chocolate, pistachio and vanilla.
Fresh Popped Popcorn
Investing in a hot air popper was one of the best investments I did when I started dieting down after my heart attack. Microwave popcorn is extremely high in calories and sodium and even though it may take you a little time to get used to the taste of plain popcorn, it can be a saving grace in the first few weeks of dieting. There are low sodium and fat free butter substitutes that you can sprinkle on fresh popped popcorn to give it taste. You can get a bag of unpopped popcorn for the same price as a box of microwave popcorn and you will get about thirteen more servings from the bag. On a side note, fresh popped popcorn is also an eco friendly alternative to using Styrofoam peanuts for shipping.
Sugar Free Gelatin
This can be an excellent snack that helps with hair growth and nail strength as well as providing a little extra protein. I skip the name brand gelatins and get the store brands; they set up the same way and have the same taste but for a third of the price. You can add fresh fruit (avoid canned fruit) if you want but no mango, watermelon or fresh pineapple as those will prevent the gelatin from setting up. If you want to add more protein to your diet, you can add a half scoop or whole scoop of neutral protein powder to the gelatin when you have it mixed. Do not use a hand mixer once you have added the protein powder or you will end up with a lot of foam.
In a addition to being a great source of protein, almonds are a natural antioxidant. To get the most from them be sure to get the plain unsalted (raw) almonds; smokehouse or salted almonds contain a lot of sodium that could lead to water retention. Adding extra protein to your diet can help with muscle recovery from exercise, when you combine it with fiber it can help promote a feeling of fullness which can help with sticking to a portion control of food. I get them by the pound from a grocery store but you have to make sure that they are fresh (if the skins are peeling avoid them).
Chicken and Turkey Jerky
You have to be careful with the sodium content with any kind of jerky; ones made without a lot of salt can still contain 300 milligrams per one ounce serving. Chicken and turkey jerky are a nice alternative to beef jerky and a one ounce serving can contain between 11 to 13 grams of protein. Avoid the teriyaki or heavy seasoned versions as they have a lot of extra calories to them from the flavoring added to it. The perk to eating jerky is that it takes a while to chew through it so its not something that you can down in just a bite or two. The beauty of jerky is that it is portable; it doesn’t need to be refrigerated but you do have to protect it from moisture. Jerky can be expensive so you might want to consider buying a dehydrator and making your own.
Moderation is key with anything including snacks. No matter how healthy they are promoted to be, if you have five or six servings instead of one (maybe two) then are setting yourself up for disaster. If you have trouble grabbing just one handful of almonds get the small mini size plastic bags and divide up the portions. Sometimes that is just what it takes to keep you on the path to a healthier lifestyle.