What do you eat when you’re craving something salty and crunchy?
Most likely, you’re going to run to the bag of chips or pretzels instead of something healthy.
Unfortunately, unlike sweet cravings, there seem to be less healthy options for people who really crave salt, so finding good swaps for the bag of chips can be tough.
The first step to managing your salt cravings is to begin to understand why you’re having them. If you don’t have a medical condition, your cravings can come from a few common reasons which are all pretty easy to fix.
- The most likely reason is that you’re trying to eat healthier and you’ve cut out a lot of salt in your diet. Your body has grown accustomed to the higher salt intake and will make you crave salt if you cut it out cold turkey, but your body will adjust after a week or two of lower salt intake.
2. You could have a mineral deficiency. Natural salt that humans would get before modern society was a good source of trace minerals, so when you have a deficiency you might begin to crave salt.
Eating salt will temporarily kill this craving, but it’ll come back when your body fails to absorb the nutrients it’s looking for. To combat this, make sure you’re eating plenty of whole food protein sources, fruits, and vegetables and I would recommend a high quality multivitamin as well.
3. The final reason might be because of mild dehydration from sweating. Since we lose salt when we sweat, you might need to increase your salt intake during the hotter months of the year. You don’t necessarily need to drink sugary sports drinks, simply salting your foods at breakfast, lunch, and dinner should be enough for most people along with additional water intake.
Now that you know three possible causes of salt cravings, here are some quick, easy, healthy snack foods that you can have to kill the craving but not blow your diet
Popcorn, while it’s not the healthiest option on this list, is actually pretty low in calories if you get air popped popcorn and don’t dump a gallon of butter on it. One cup of popcorn only has 31 calories, only 6.2 carbs, and 1.2 grams of fiber.
One cup of popcorn isn’t much, but you can eat around three cups and still stay below one hundred calories. Where you run into trouble is when adding oils to popcorn, one tablespoon (which isn’t a lot) has about 100 calories, and most of the time people will add 2+ tablespoons to popcorn.
If you like pickles, which most salt lovers do, are a great ultra-low calorie option that includes salt, the crunch, and is actually pretty healthy for you since you’re eating a cucumber. Dill pickles only have 4.2 calories per spear, and slices are about 1 calorie each.
If you’re a fan of bread and butter pickles, they’re a little higher in calories, but one spear is only 18 calories which is only around 4.2 carbs per spear and only 6.8 calories per slice.
Nuts make a great snack or a nice salty addition to a meal. But this is the highest calorie option on the list. 1/4 cup of mixed nuts, which is about a small handful you’d grab out of a bag or jar, is over 200 calories.
Nuts are full of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, but be conscious of portion control, eating a cup of nuts (which isn’t hard to do for a lot of people) will be over 800 calories!
Hummus and Vegetables
This is a great healthy snack full of vitamins and minerals, but, just like any snack, portion control is key. Eating about a ¼ cup of hummus has only 100 calories but eating a cup of hummus has over 400 calories!
Hummus is made with chickpeas and oil so it’s not a low-fat food. Even though it’s healthy, those calories can sneak up pretty easily, especially when you’re snacking on it while making dinner. I’d highly recommend you measure out how much hummus you want to eat and put it in a separate container before eating it.
Apples and Salted Peanut Butter
Salted peanut butter gives the salty taste you’re looking for while the apples give you the crunch so many people crave.
Most of you probably know where I’m going with this if you’ve ever done a consult with me, you HAVE to measure out peanut butter (or almond butter, sunflower butter, or any other type). Peanut butter has more calories in a given volume than nuts do, so ¼ cup of peanut butter has more calories than ¼ cup of nuts.
In fact, remember that a ¼ cup of nuts is around 200 calories, but a ¼ cup of peanut butter (which is easy to eat) is around 380 calories!
A serving of peanut butter is two tablespoons, which is roughly 190 calories. If your goal is weight loss, try to stick to that serving size.
You might love them, hate them, or think I’m crazy for putting olives under a snack idea, but if you’re a fan of olives, they’re a great low calorie snack option.
Two ounces of olives, which is around 14 large olives, has only 64 calories, only three carbs, and six grams of healthy fats.
There are slight variations between olive types and sizes, but for the most part this is fairly accurate. Now, if you start adding cheese and other things to the olives, then those calories start rapidly going up.
Olives might not be your first choice for a snack option, but if you like them it could be a good low calorie option for you.
To wrap up, salt cravings are sometimes the hardest to get rid of, but using one of these six options will definitely help you. If you do eat some of these snacks, make sure to drink plenty of water with them since you will be increasing your sodium intake.
Finally, if you want an almost calorie free option, an electrolyte supplement in the summer can help curb those salt cravings.
If you have other salty snack ideas (like beef jerky for example), I’d love to hear them. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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