11 Diet-Killing Snack Cravings and What to Eat Instead

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11 Diet-Killing Snack Cravings and What to Eat Instead

We know you want them, but, really, you shouldn’t eat them; no need to go hungry, though
11 Diet-Killing Snack Cravings and What to Eat Instead

Shutterstock

11 Diet-Killing Snack Cravings and What to Eat Instead

snacks

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It’s 11:35 p.m., you’re about to embark on your third episode of Bloodline, and you suddenly crave ice cream. You’ve already had three full meals today (and a handful of cashews), but you really want two or three scoops of mint chocolate chip before calling it a day. As you head to the freezer, you lament upon your current situation, wishing that there was a healthier option to cure your late night sweet tooth. Trust us, there is.

Many moons ago, The Daily Meal published a piece called The Unhealthiest Junk in the Junk Food Aisle. As you can imagine, this list is packed with foods that have little-to-no nutritional value and plenty of hard to pronounce, non-natural ingredients. From the salty and crunchy to the gummy and sweet, the unhealthiest junk foods are foods that many of us often crave.

Since the time that article was published, healthy eating has become more and more popular. Because of this, we’ve decided to revisit the 2013 list in order to provide you with more nutritious options for the crave-worthy snacks it includes. Additionally, we’ve added in a few more of our own most deleterious cravings with viable, healthier swaps. If you’re looking to satisfy your midnight cravings healthily or just trying to avoid the fats and sugars so often associated with snack foods, the following slideshow is a great place to start.

Chocolate

chocoalte bar

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When it comes to chocolate, not all kinds are created equal. Chocolate bars and other chocolatey treats like Twix, Kit-Kat Bars, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are easy to grab and eat on-the-go, but they really have no place in a healthy eater’s diet. You can still eat chocolate, but make sure it’s the healthy type of dark chocolate made with 70 percent or more cacao.

Cookies

Cookies

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It's no secret that store-bought cookies just aren't going to have the same feel-good quality as homemade ones, and neither store-bought nor homemade cookies are stellar in terms of healthy properties. Your best bet for having a healthy alternative to standard issue cookies is to make your own cookies using healthy swaps and tweaks.

Corn-Based Snacks

cheetoes

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Fritos, Cheetos, and other finger-food snacks that end in “-os” are largely based on corn. Tasty? Sure. Too high in fat? Absolutely. Highly processed corn is a nutritional wasteland, and the added sodium, not to mention that mysterious neon-bright "cheese" powder, in these snacks make limiting them a very good idea. Look to bags of lentil-based chips, vegetable straws, and dehydrated vegetables for a snack that’s satisfyingly crunchy and healthy.

Doughnuts

Doughnuts

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Doughnut holes and other sugary baked goods are unhealthy – there’s no way around it. Sooth your craving for bite-sized baked goodness by eating healthy energy balls instead. These usually have oats, natural nut butter, and a flavored protein powder to make them taste like a naughty treat, but they’re actually incredibly nutritious.

Click here for an energy-packed Peanut Butter Protein Balls recipe.

French Fries

french fries

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One medium serving of typical fast food fries will cost you 378 calories, 17 grams of fat, 45 grams of carbs, and 221 mg of sodium (not to mention the fact that you’re probably eating them in your car, losing a few between your seat and the center console every time). Luckily, creating a healthier version of French fries is super easy and quite delicious. These baked sweet potato fries are a total healthy game-changer.

Click here for Jennifer Leah Gottlieb's Baked Sweet Potato Fries recipe.

Gummy Candy

Gummy Candy

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If only Fruit by the Foot were actually made of 12 inches of pure, unadulterated fruit. Soft, gummy candies like Fruit by the Foot and Gushers truly serve no place in a healthy diet. If you can see no way around diving into a handful of gummies at snack time, consider seeking out a gummy multivitamin. While these are made with a few grams of sugar, they are ultimately much more beneficial than their vitamin-lacking counterparts (needless to say, don't treat them like candy and take more than one). Baked, dehydrated, or dried banana chips are also a great, naturally sweet alternative to hard candy.

Hard Candy

Hard Candy

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Hard caramels, Jolly Ranchers, butterscotch candies, and the like are just hard, flavored sugar with very little nutritional value. If you want something hard and sweet to snack on, consider investigating the new trend of freeze-dried fruit. From strawberries and raspberries to green apples, companies are making one-ingredient snacking the latest in healthy eating. 

Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt

Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt

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In recent years, frozen yogurt has become all the rage, mainly because it is marketed as a healthier version of ice cream. Both froyo and ice cream, however, can easily add large amounts of sugar and fat to your daily diet. To top it off (no pun intended), froyo chains like the 25 Best Frozen Yogurt Shops Across the US allow you to choose from a vast array of highly caloric toppings that double or even triple the sugar content in your oversized paper cup. Personal trainer to the stars Jennifer Leah Gottlieb has a Greek-yogurt based swap for froyo and ice cream that you can eat with little guilt.

Click here for Jennifer's Clean Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Frozen Yogurt recipe.

Potato Chips

Potato Chips

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Potato chips may be the most craved snack out there, and it’s a shame: These  extremely addicting munchables can be consumed copiously without the snacker ever feeling full.  Many potato chip brands contain high levels of sodium and trans fats, and genetically modified ingredients often make their way into large-scale potato chip companies’ recipes. Prevent snack-induced guilt by baking up a few batches of these baked vegetable chips instead.

Click here for a healthy Zucchini Chips recipe.

Snack Cakes

Snack Cakes

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Given all the hoopla surrounding the loss, then heralded resurrection, of Twinkies, our 2013 story on unhealthy junk food simply had to include them on its list. These (and other brands’) highly sugared, low-to-no fiber "goodies" leave you feeling hollow shortly after eating them. Much healthier handheld snacks like chewy, fiber-filled Quest Bars and protein-packed, whole-foods-only RXBARs are satisfyingly sweet but don’t contain heaps of sugar.

Snack Mixes

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Over-the-top sodium levels are especially common in snack mixes. The American Heart Association says that you should consume less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, so you can see that even these modest serving sizes pack a big (salty) wallop.

Put Down That Package and Make Your Own Perfect Healthy Snack Mix.