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5 Guilty Pleasure Snacks and Their Healthy (Realistic) Substitutes

By Michael Alarcon ; Updated October 17, 2017

As I’m writing this sentence at the office, all I can think about is the container full of peanut butter M&Ms and individual-sized bags of Doritos just sitting there in the employee kitchen—free for the taking. “College me” would tear though those snacks before you finished this sentence. “Adult me” has to be a bit more mindful about how to satisfy my snack time cravings. The five following cravings are snack time’s worst enemies, but there are ways to kill them with substitutes…

Your Guilty Pleasure: Sugary Snacks
Your Body Wants: Chromium, Carbon, Phosphorus, Sulfur, Tryptophan
Your Healthy Substitute: Let’s hit these five individually…

Chromium: Grapes, cheese, chicken, and broccoli
Carbon: Fruit–the fresher, the better.
Phosphorus: Nuts, grains, beef, eggs (pretty much any dairy).
Sulfur: Cranberries!
Tryptophan: Cheese and raisins, and if you have ‘em, sweet potatoes.

Your Realistic Substitute: There is no true substitute for sugary junk food, but you will never go wrong with a handful of fruit. Try frozen grapes, dried cranberries, dehydrated apples (these things are sweet), or a trail mix without the M&Ms.

Your Guilty Pleasure: Soda (or pop depending on what part of the country you’re from)
Your Body Wants: Calcium
Your Healthy Substitute: It’s definitely not the same thing, but popping a few florets of broccoli works—cheese works, too. If you still need a refresher, try iced green tea or water with slices of lemon, both an acquired taste, but extremely healthy.
Your Realistic Substitute: If you really need that fizz, try adding seltzer water with ice to fresh fruit juice (not fruit juice cocktail).

Your Guilty Pleasure: Bread, Pasta (carbs in general)
Your Body Wants: Nitrogen
Your Healthy Substitute: You can’t go wrong with nuts—especially almonds (lightly or unsalted). Meat’s also a great sub—beef jerky always does the trick. Beans work well, too—stay away from refried though—you’re just subbing one unhealthy food for another.
Your Realistic Substitute: Beef jerky! It’s easy to carry around, tastes pretty good, and will shut your true carb craving down fast. Vegetarians should go for lightly- or unsalted nuts—a palm full of almonds works wonders.

Your Guilty Pleasure: Chocolate
Your Body Wants: Magnesium
Your Healthy Substitute: Fruit, seeds, nuts, and yes—veggies.
Your Realistic Substitute: I know, I know—there is no true substitute for chocolate, but give carob a try. It has a chocolate-like flavor without the health risks or the additives and preservatives that chocolate has.

Your Guilty Pleasure: Salty Snacks
Your Body Wants: Chloride and Silicon
Your Healthy Substitute: Fish, nuts and sunflower seeds.
Your Realistic Substitute: Pickles—how easy it is to just walk by the refrigerator, grab a (low sodium) baby dill, and go on with your day? Simple, plus they take away that sodium jones you started out with. Not too many though—bloating and an upset stomach are the last things you need. If you hate pickles, try olives for the same reasons—they contain some fat, but it’s healthy unsaturated fat with omega-3s. Photo:

Photo credits: #1-#3: Getty Images; #4: HMV; #5: NPR.org


About the Author


I'm a managing editor at Demand Media.