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Nine Snacks to Combat Cravings

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Check out nine great snacks that keep you full of energy and low on pounds.

woman drinking a fruit smoothie

JJ Virgin: If you find yourself nodding off at your desk, or slapping yourself in the face to stay awake behind the wheel mid-afternoon, you may well just be struggling with blood sugar imbalances due to insufficient nutrients -- or calories -- from your meals earlier in the day.

There are some really simple ways to prevent this from happening in the first place -- everything from choosing the right foods, in the right proportions, at the right time, and even eating them with the right mindset (some of us even need to select the right people with whom we dine!). Any misstep in one of these areas can cause a crazy swing in blood sugar, which results in all kinds of physical reactions. Perhaps you get cranky and irritable. Some folks crave sugar or salt midday. Fuzzy thinking and low energy are other negative effects of low blood sugar.

Contrary to popular opinion, the solution ISN'T to nosh every two to three hours! Why? Because if you are constantly feeding your system, it has a steady supply of calories to draw from, making it impossible to tap into stored body fat for fuel. Result? Regular snacking keeps you -- and can make you -- FAT! Given the proper balance at meals, you should be good to go for four to six hours. There are those days, though, when the gap between mealtimes widens to seven or more hours -- and when it does, it's time to refuel. Here are my all-time favorite options to balance blood sugar and to whack those side effects in the process:

Nine Snacks to Combat Cravings

1. Yogurt Parfait

Low-fat, Greek-style yogurt sweetened with cinnamon and no-sugar-added vanilla extract. If you need it sweeter while you are retraining your taste buds, add xylitol, a sugar alcohol that doesn't raise insulin and helps reduce the risk of tooth decay. Add ½ cup of organic berries or chopped apple for a great antioxidant punch!

2. Celery Sticks Stuffed With ...

• Almond butter
• Goat's or sheep's milk cheese
• Guacamole!

3. Tortilla Roll-Up

For the tortilla, it's best to choose whole-grain or rice flour. Spread 1-2 Tbsp almond butter; add ¼ cup chopped apple for some crunch; cottage cheese; salsa; chopped red peppers and jicama; organic turkey deli meat; chopped lettuce; and 1-2 Tbsp of smashed avocado.

4. Portable Options

• 10 raw nuts and ½ cup organic berries
• 1 oz naturally lower fat cheese (especially string cheese) and ½ cup of melon
• 1 sliced apple with 1 Tbsp nut butter

5. Smoothie

1 scoop whey protein powder, ½ cup berries, 1 cup water, 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal

6. Edamame

1 cup steamed edamame (soybeans) in the shell

7. Veggie Soup

1 cup veggie soup

8. Raw Veggies and Dip

For the dip, use olive oil, Dijon mustard, and balsamic vinaigrette mixed with your favorite spices.

9. Rice Cake Topped With ...

• Almond butter and 1 Tbsp of flaxseed meal
Turkey, tomato, and Dijon mustard
• Guacamole and salsa

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