Crunchy, salty… did we mention crunchy? When a craving for potato chips hits, it’s no joke; the allure is so strong. But then, after the last crumbs are out of the bag, we usually don’t feel so great.
We’ve read articles that suggest munching on celery to satisfy the craving for crunch, but come on—that’s just not going to do it. It’s the salt-fat-crunch combo that’s so powerful. So we asked registered dietician-nutritionists and personal trainers Lyssie Lakatos and Tammy Lakatos Shames (a.k.a. The Nutrition Twins) for some healthy, real-world alternatives to that tempting crinkly bag.
When it comes to satisfying cravings, “We like give our clients a lot of options, because what works for one person might not work for another,” Shames says. “One thing we like to recommend is those teriyaki seaweed snacks. They’re sweet, and salty, and crunchy. They’re actually really low in salt, but there’s enough that it gets that feeling going.” (We love the SeaSnax brand of seaweed snacks. They’re made with olive oil; most other brands we’ve seen use canola or other vegetable oil.)
Cucumber + Hummus + Olive = Crunchy, Fatty, Salty Perfection
“Another great snack we recommend is open-face cucumber-hummus-olive sandwiches,” Lakatos says. “It’s just cucumber rounds spread with a teaspoon of hummus and a little bit of chopped olive. It’s so good, it’s salty, crunchy and creamy. And you get some healthy benefits—the olives give you heart-healthy fat, there’s protein and fiber from the beans in the hummus, and then you get the nutrients in the cucumber. Even just one olive gives you that hit of salt.”
DIY Veggie Chips
If you just have to have chips (been there), Lakatos and Shames recommend baking a batch of vegetable chips. “Kale is popular, but you can use carrots, beets, turnips—anything you like,” Shames says. When you slice them thinly, mist with oil and bake, you get the crunch, and with a strategic use of spices, you can even scratch the itch for your favorite chip flavor.
Want BBQ chips? Try Shames’ and Lakatos’ recipe for Smoked Paprika Zucchini Chips.
Chips. (Chips are the only thing that satisfies when you want chips.)
Need chips right now, no time to wait for a batch to come out of the oven? “We love the Bare chips, they’re really good,” Shames notes. “It’s a healthier alternative.”
Baked chickpeas are also a good stand-in, and “they’re satisfying because they have protein and fiber,” Shames says. Like the chips, you can DIY or grab a bag at the store.
Understanding and managing cravings
Another way to deal with cravings is to get to know what’s behind them. “We have our clients track their cravings and their mood,” Lakatos notes. “Often they find they turn to the chips when they’re happy, sad, bored—when they see what the triggers are, they can deal with it better. If it’s a real craving, then go with it and have one of the healthier alternatives. But if it’s emotional, see if you can ride it out.”
Give it a try
Deep breathing can help calm you if your craving is stress-related, as can drinking certain types of tea. “Green, black or oolong tea contains L-theanine, a compound that crosses the blood-brain barrier and brings on alertness but also calmness,” Shames says. “It calms you down, so you’re not going to dive into the potato chips if you’re stressed.”
Hungry for More?