Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Finding Cures for the Cravings
First, having a free day each week allows me to indulge in the real thing... ice-cream, pizza, maybe a chocolate bar. I limit myself to one meal a week, or one treat a week. 99% of the time, I find that I prefer to use my "free card" on dinner. As a family, we really make a big deal out of my Sunday Funday. We order a pizza or Chinese take-out and watch a movie, or we eat a sensible dinner and then enjoy ice-cream for dessert. Once in a while, we'll go out for dinner - and I don't have to dissect the menu looking for the healthiest option. Whatever we decide to do, I take that opportunity to enjoy the food without regrets, guilt, or the feeling of failure.
So, I have one day a week that satisfies the unhealthy taste buds in my mouth - but what about the rest of the week? Do you know how many nights I think "man, sure would love some potato chips right now" or "it's so hot, a bowl of ice-cream sure would hit the spot". Some evenings, I'm in the mood to eat fried chicken, pizza, or french fries. Telling myself I just have to wait until Sunday - especially if it's Monday or Tuesday - just won't cut it. So, what's a healthy eater to do? You get creative, and find healthy alternatives...ta da!!
Don't worry, I'm going to get you started with my favorite craving fixes. I'm not saying that my list is the only way to replace the cravings - it's a guide. If you get creative, you may find your own replacements that you prefer....when that happens, why don't you share - we're always looking for more options, right?
1. Ice-Cream. Because it's been so darn hot around here lately, this has been a constant craving. I'm not usually an ice-cream person, but this summer it's just been something I've wanted - and a lot of. I've found the best replacement is fat-free or low-fat frozen yogurt. In regards to this item, I actually PREFER the frozen yogurt to regular ice-cream. There are so many great flavors available: blueberry, strawberry, apple pie, butter pecan...YUM!! Just be sure to limit your serving to 1/2 cup - because even though there is hardly any fat in frozen yogurt, there's still quite a large helping of carbs.
2. Potato Chips. I LOVE potato chips. These and cookies are my biggest temptations. To this day, if there's chips in my house - there's a strong possibility that I'm going to have a few. I no longer buy chips for that reason. Even though the chips aren't there - I still get that craving. Now, when the monster starts messing with my belly, I run to the fridge and grab a cucumber. Yep, a cucumber...mostly water, no calories. I slice up some cucumber and then sprinkle some salt over the slices. Great crunch, salty flavor...almost as good as the real thing. If you love flavored chips - try using some spices on your cucumber. Dried Ranch dressing, garlic powder, onion powder, maybe some chili powder - all work great on some cucumber slices.
3. Cheesecake/ Creme Pie. Luckily, I don't crave a slice of cheesecake or creme pie very often...hardly ever. However, all it takes is someone telling me a story of how wonderful the cheesecake was that they had with dinner the previous night to perk up my taste buds. I've found that there's two great options when it comes to these cravings: Fat-free pudding mix and fat-free yogurt. If you're really wanting the texture and real taste of a cheesecake or creme pie, I suggest going with the fat-free pudding. You can make up a package with some fat-free or 1% milk, crush up a graham cracker, and WA LA...you have your very own cheesecake or creme pie. If you just like the flavor, there are some great yogurt options available. The Yoplait line of yogurts offer favorites like Boston Creme Pie, Key Lime Pie, Banana Creme Pie, and Cherry Cheesecake...all satisfying to the palate.
4. Cake. I'm very lucky when it comes to cake - because I don't care for it. I'll have a small slither at birthday parties and what not, but I never just have an urge to eat cake. The best fix for cake is Angel Food Cake. A small slice contains few calories and fat - but beware the carbs. Eaten occasionally, though, a small slice of Angel Food cake is a much better alternative to regular cake.
5. Mashed Potatoes. Mmmmm, the soft, buttery flavor of mashed potatoes. So good for the taste buds - so bad for your behind!! Mashed potatoes are LOADED with butter and milk....not a healthy choice. So, what's a mash lover to do? I've found two ways to squash this craving monster. The first way to make regular mashed potatoes healthier is switching out the butter and milk and replacing with fat-free sour cream. I use about a cup of the sour cream and use a mixer to get the fluffy texture. When I serve the mash, I spray a few sprays of zero calorie butter spray on my serving. That way, I get the buttery taste, the fluffy texture - over half less the calories. If I'm being especially good, I replace the whole thing with mashed cauliflower....don't knock it until you've tried it. Mashed cauliflower has a very similar texture to real mashed potatoes. For a real treat, I sprinkle some fat-free cheddar over the cauliflower.
6 Pizza. I have tons of healthy pizza recipes - but sometimes I just don't feel like making pizza crust from scratch...it's time consuming. Sure, I can buy pre-made crusts from the store..but have you seen the nutritional info from those things? If not, don't even waste your time. If I've got a hankering for a slice of pizza I grab a Joseph's Pita Bread, tomato sauce, fat-free cheddar, and a slice or two of fat-free turkey or 98% fat free deli ham. Put all the ingredients on the flat bread, pop it in the oven for a few minutes and I'm enjoying my own healthy pizza. The Joseph's Flat Breads and Pitas are very low in calories, high in protein, and high in fiber - a much healthier choice than pizza dough. My kids also love this quick fix for lunch quite often - as do I.
7. Fried Chicken and Fish. Yeah, yeah, KFC now has grilled chicken - but if you've tasted it, I'm sorry. It basically tastes like rubber - and the flavor is worse. Let's not forget, that it's still loaded with fat! I much prefer to make my own chicken - and the best way to do that just takes a box of cereal. Cornflakes are the best alternative (taste wise) to the yummy fried coating found on chicken and fish. Just coat your chicken breasts or fish fillets with some egg white and roll in some crushed cornflakes - cook in the oven and you have the next best thing to fried chicken and fish....yes, it's that easy.
8. French Fries. Cooking fries in the oven is the healthiest method - but they sure don't taste the same. If you're anything like me, maybe you like the oily taste that a good fried french fry gives. There's a healthier way to get that too!! Before cooking your fries (I prefer homemade, but frozen works too) put them in a bowl with 2 tbsp of Olive Oil. Shake the bowl to coat the fries. Cook the fries in the oven, and when they're done they have a fresh from the fryer taste...YUMMY!! This is one of those things I wouldn't recommend doing too often - but once in a while won't hurt ya.
9. Chocolate. Ah, chocolate, my sweet friend (or should I say enemy in disguise). The majority of people I've asked about cravings seem to say chocolate more than anything else. This one can be the easiest, or hardest craving to satisfy. There are a bazillion ways that chocolate cravings can be cured - but it really depends if the imitation is good enough for you. Some people won't take anything but the real deal - and to those people...it takes time, but it can be conquered. I was a chocoholic when starting my journey - now, chocolate doesn't tempt me at all. I've found that every protein bar and protein shake are offered in a chocolate variety - and those are the ones I opted for. They are definitely not as good as the real thing, but after eating or drinking one every day for the past 3 months - I really have no desire to eat chocolate anymore. If you're not taking supplements, the fat-free pudding can help here, too. Want the bar texture? Then I suggest Fiber One's 100 calorie bars. They have the yummiest chocolate flavor - and are still good for you.
10. Cookies. This is another forbidden food in regards to being allowed in my home. Just not having them in my house makes it easier not to give in to the temptation of not eating them - but some days I still want one or three. That's when I grab my Guilt Free cookbook and make up a batch of healthy cookies. If I can't be bothered to do that, then I opt for a 100 calorie snack pack. The homemade cookies are far better for you. Even though the 100 calorie packs are only 100 calories- they're still pretty high on the carb scale.
There you go - ten replacements. Now, with all things, moderation is the key. Still check nutrition info - try to limit yourself so you're not grabbing something every couple of hours. If you're eating your 6 meals a day, you will find that your cravings start decreasing - because you're always full. My cravings went from one a day to maybe once or twice a week now - if that. I try to incorporate things into my meal plan that will help curb cravings before they happen. I add meals like hummus and flatbread crackers for my salty cravings, my protein shakes for my sweet cravings, and apples and natural peanut butter that combine sweet and salty flavors. Every day I try to schedule a sweet meal, a salty meal, and some kind of cheesy meal (cottage cheese and crackers or string cheese with a slice of whole grain bread)- that cures all my cravings.
Hopefully this will get you started on curbing those cravings. If you have other suggestions - please share them!!
That's it for today...just a reminder to my local readers: Be sure to watch KNWA Today at 6am or 10pm tomorrow as I will be on there!! My interview airs tomorrow, so set your DVR's or get up early!! For my non local readers, I will post the link as soon as I get it.
Till next time. ;)