MANILA, Philippines – For Filipinos, eating is more than just a social event. It’s a pastime.
We eat several times a day; aside from breakfast, lunch, and dinner, there’s a morning snack, merienda, and the occasional bite before bed.
Much of the food is often consumed on the go, while in school or at work. People turn to food and munch on either chips or sweets to keep us going throughout the day. (READ: Eating healthy: 4 ways to keep your New Year’s resolution)
But before you reach for a big bag of cheese potato chips or a milk chocolate bar, think of all the empty calories you’ll be able to ditch if you opt for healthier snacks instead. Aside from saving you a bit of time off the treadmill, you’ll also get more vitamins and minerals that are actually good for you. (READ: The diet and lifestyle for your blood type)
Here are some healthier alternatives for your favorite snacks:
1. Swap out potato chips for nuts
It’s common knowledge that chips are not good for you due to all the carbs, salt, and oil they come with. Instead of your usual potato chips, which we know are very tasty, go for unsalted nuts or unsweetened, high fiber cereals. Unsalted nuts are rich in zinc, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin B3 which helps your metabolism.
High-fiber cereals are good for your digestive system and it also helps your blood sugar control. Fiber can also reportedly lower the risks of heart disease by 40% and stroke by 7%. It also doesn’t hurt that fiber can help speed up metabolism, which may aid in weight loss.
2. Swap out white and milk chocolate for dark chocolate
Instead of the ultra-sweet variant, opt for quality dark chocolate instead. Consumed in moderate amounts, it’s rich in fiber and anti-oxidants. It can also help improve blood flow in your arteries. Dark chocolate is helpful in improving brain function – making it a perfect snack while at work.
A Dutch study shows that cocoa, the main ingredient of chocolate, reduced the risk of cardiovascular deaths among 470 elderly test subjects by 50%. It even helps you fight signs of aging through antioxidants and flavonoids that help keep your cells healthy.
3. Swap out french fries for edemame beans
Try edamame – steamed (or boiled) salted immature soybeans. You can eat it on its own or mix it in with your salad. Tear the pod to get to the beans and enjoy!
While fries are known to be bad for you because of the high fat and oil content of the finished product, edamame is the exact opposite, as those beans are rich in fiber and protein – a nutrient necessary for growth and energy conversion.
These are best enjoyed hot and freshly prepared, but you can prepare these beforehand and add edemame to a bowl of corn and sliced carrots to make a lovely salad.
4. Swap out candy for fresh fruit
Keep fruits in your home or office fridge for an emergency snack to answer your sweet cravings. Watermelon and kiwis, when they’re in season, are great options that aren’t too high in sugar, but fresh fruits in general are better choices versus candy bars especially if you’re looking to consume them daily.
Tip: keep plastic utensils handy in your office drawer so you won’t be scrambling for a knife and fork when you suddenly want some fruit that needs to be sliced.
5. Swap out soda and processed drinks for lemon water or unsweetened tea
Soda has always been connected to weight gain and the development of diseases like diabetes. And yes, even the diet soda is said to have negative side effects. A study from the University of Texas Health Science Center says that excessive consumption of diet soda can increase your waist circumference by 70%.
So instead of soda, opt for water with lemon slices and mint, for a bit of flavor, without getting an acid and sugar overload.
If you love iced tea, you won’t have to give it up, but get rid of the sugar overload by opting for regular, unsweetened tea and adding honey. Prepare beforehand and take a tumbler with you to work. Chill it in your fridge before drinking.
If you love junk food, healthy snacks might be an acquired taste so it is always better to start moderating your intake of unhealthy food and substituting them with vitamin and mineral-rich options gradually to help you ease into a better diet. (READ: 5 ways to lose holiday weight)
Let us know how you substitute your snacks with healthier options in the comments section below. – Rappler.com
Woman with food image from Shutterstock