If you’re in college, chances are you have had an encounter with the munchies. Of course, there are all sorts of reasons people get these annoying cravings and random hunger pangs. You can get the munchies for a bunch of different reasons, like 1) right before a huge exam, 2) if you are a girl right before your period, or 3) after a hard night of partying.
While the occasional munch session might not affect your health and weight too much, if you’re munching out regularly this unhealthy habit is likely to catch up with you. Try these simple tips to avoid getting the munchies.
Tip #1: If You Fail to Plan, You’ll Plan to Fail
There’s a reason so many Fitsporation accounts on Instagram practically chant this slogan like it’s their national anthem. Having a plan is essential to eating right. Try having healthy treats on hand like granola bars, low-fat yogurt, or whole grain crackers with cheese for your next munchies attack. One of my favorite foods is fruit. You can easily eat two, three, or even four whole pieces of fresh fruit and at most rack up a couple hundred calories. Blend them into a smoothie if the idea of peeling four oranges is too much for your drunken alter ego to handle.
Tip#2: Avoid Partying on an Empty Stomach
One common theme I’ve noticed with my girlfriends is how so many of them would party on empty stomachs. Sure, they didn’t want to look bloated before going out. But often they would drink way too much, get super sick, or come home starving and consume way more calories than if they had simply eaten a balanced dinner. Ladies, please eat SOMETHING before you go out! A couple of ounces of baked chicken breast, some brown rice, and some steamed green beans is only 320 calories. This is a healthy dinner, won’t bloat you, and will keep you from eating that double cheeseburger at 3 AM later in the evening.
Tip #3: Distract Yourself From Munchie-Inducing Moments
Ever felt peer pressure to pound back an extra shot at the bar? The same goes for that late night pizza. Just because your friends are giving in to their munchies, doesn’t mean you need to! It’s as simple as ending your night a little early. You might miss last call, but you’ll also miss the extra 500-700 calories your friends are consuming at the local burger joint. Even if it means walking a different or longer path home to avoid certain tempting food stops, avoid those unneeded calories.
‘Munch’ on These Instead
If it’s been a long night, or you finally finished that annoying group project, you might want to celebrate. What’s a health-conscious, I-eat-froyo-on-the-weekends girl to do? Try some of these simple recipes and meal ideas when cravings strike:
- ‘Healthy’ Nachos—Nachos are normally a high-calorie appetizer you avoid like the plague. But these nachos take only a few minutes to make and are much lower in calories. Spread about 1-2 tsp of salsa on about 10 baked tortilla chips. Top each tortilla with a sprinkling of low-fat shredded cheese. Microwave for 60 seconds or until cheese is melted.
- Whole Grain Turkey and Pesto Sandwich—Use whole grain or sprouted grain bread with plenty of fiber to keep you full. Spread each slice of bread with a thin smear of store bought pesto. Add 2-3 ounces of lean turkey, a great source of protein that’s low in saturated fat. Top it with roasted red peppers and a slice of mozzarella cheese. This decadent sandwich packs only 350 calories and is a healthy balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fats to satiate your hunger without leading to weight gain.
- Fruit and Chocolate Fondue—Yes, you CAN have fruit and chocolate for a late night snack! Have extra candy from the holidays lying around? Melt your leftover Hershey Kisses or other fun-sized pieces of chocolate in a microwave safe bowl (extra points if you use flavonoid-rich dark chocolate). Every 15 seconds of so, remove the chocolate from the microwave and stir to prevent burning. Thin out the chocolate with a couple of tablespoons of milk/milk substitute if needed. Dip your favorite strawberries, berries, whole-grain graham crackers, or even slices of apple and pineapple in it for a super easy fondue.
Don’t think that you can’t go out partying without succumbing to the munchies at the end of the night. There are plenty of ways you can avoid the munchies and excess weight gain associated with it. And even if the munchies do strike, now you’ve get a healthy arsenal of recipes you can eat guilt-free!