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No More Unhealthy Snacks: Try These Tasty Alternatives

No More Unhealthy Snacks: Try These Tasty Alternatives

Snacks. Whether it is ice cream, cookies, or cupcakes, most of us find it hard to say no to these irresistible goodies.

Unfortunately, too much snacking can cause health problems in the long term because of their high sugar content. Some people have chosen artificial sweeteners, like sucralose and aspartame, to avoid sugar. In theory, it sounds like a good idea. Sucralose and aspartame appear to be a healthier option than granulated sugar, but unfortunately, these sweeteners do more harm than good.

Did you know that sucralose reduces good gut bacteria, releases toxins, and links to type 2 diabetes?

Did you know that aspartame is linked to at least 90 symptoms, including headaches and memory loss?

There are some people who do not consume artificial sweeteners and believe that they are healthier for that reason alone. Unfortunately, most of these people are unaware of the amounts of sugar that exist in many products that they consume on a daily basis. For example, ketchup and salad dressing both have heavy amounts of sugar. For some people, condiments do not appear to raise any fears because they will argue that only small amounts of it are used. The problem is that they do not consider how often they use those condiments in their meals on a daily basis.

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It is even worse when these same people also indulge in the typical type of snacks like cookies, cupcakes, ice cream, and pies.

Consuming large amounts of sugar on a daily basis can lead to diabetes and other health problems in the long term. So, how can a person snack in a healthier manner? Consider these healthy snacks when you have the urge to munch on something between meals.

1. Cranberries with almonds

This snack choice can be prepared in seconds. Throw them both in a bowl and enjoy. Cranberries and almonds provide a great combination of nuttiness, sweetness, and crunchiness to the consumer.

Almonds are high in protein and low in carbohydrates, while cranberries are high in antioxidants and low in sugar.

If you are not a fan of almonds, you can substitute it with sunflower seeds. They are high in protein too.

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2. Boiled eggs with coconut flakes

Many people think that eggs should be reserved for breakfast. Unless you are a person who eats a lot of eggs, you might actually be open to the idea of having it as a snack.

Boiled eggs are not typically appealing, especially eaten alone. However, coconut flakes really makes the difference. Adding a teaspoon of coconut flakes with each small bite makes it a tasty treat.

Both eggs and coconuts are excellent sources of essential fatty acids (EFAs). Furthermore,  eggs are a good source of protein (6 grams per egg), while coconuts are a source of Vitamin E, Vitamin K, and iron.

3. 100% cocoa with honey

Chocolate. Almost everyone loves it. Although, many people love chocolate because of the added sugar.

There is an ever-growing amount of stores that sell chocolate with higher cocoa content and less sugar. While it may be difficult, it is not impossible to find 100% cocoa. You can buy it online or from a specialty store.

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Cocoa is high in antioxidants, while honey has small amount of B vitamins and minerals. Honey has also been known to improve memory, boost energy, and reduce seasonal allergies. This is why I recommend honey over regular sugar. Although, I would suggest limiting the honey to one tablespoon since a tablespoon of honey equals to 12 grams of sugar. Two ounces of cocoa with a tablespoon of honey should be adequate for a snack.

4. Pumpkin seeds with sea salt

When most people think of pumpkins, they think of pumpkin pie. However, there is more to a pumpkin than pie. Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc, alpha-linolenic acid (a plant-based omega 3), and manganese. They have also been known to lower blood sugar levels.

Often, when you buy pumpkin seeds, many of the packaged products are already salted with table salt. I would recommend buying unsalted pumpkin seeds and adding sea salt to them. Sea salt has 50+ trace minerals and is not as processed as table salt. While both salts contain iodine (a necessary mineral), table salt is heavily processed, leaving the salt without many of its initial nutrients.

5. Granola

Granola is still one of the most popular snack foods. It is a healthier alternative to cookies, cupcakes, and ice cream. There are many granola products that can be found in dozens of grocery stores. Although, it is better to make your own granola to avoid the processed counterparts, which contain preservatives and unnatural sweeteners.

It is also ideal because you get to choose which fruits, nuts and seeds that you want in your granola.

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Most fruits, nuts and seeds are abundant in nutrients but you still need to be mindful of the sugar content. That is why it is best to create a granola mix that is low in fructose sugar and carbohydrates.

The final word

I am not saying that sugar is the enemy. It is only the enemy when we eat too much of it. I am only advocating that people become more conscious about their daily consumption of it. If you want to avoid it altogether, eating more protein will dramatically reduce your sugar cravings.

If you want more healthy snack ideas, tune in to The Bright Side or seek nutritional counseling from a holistic health clinic like Fox Integrated Healthcare.

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Kallen Diggs

Bestselling Author / Magazine Editor / Syndicated Radio Show Host

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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