Healthy Snack Alternatives

When it comes to snacking, sometimes it can be a bit tough to adhere to your diet and stay away from the tastier snacks. I have always found it unfortunate that the most addicting and tasty snacks are always the ones that are unhealthiest. It’s a sort of irony that doesn’t elude me, at the very least.

However, after I did a bit of digging around on the Internet to find some healthier alternatives to popular snacks, I realized there really are some great options out there if you’re looking to watch your weight, stick to whatever diet it is you’re currently on, or just remain healthier in general. No more candy boxes and debbie cakes for you (well, every now and then it’s cool).

Yogurt covered raisins.

I think these may just be one of the best things to snack on out there, period. Healthy or unhealthy, for your diet or not, these have a lot of protein thanks to the yogurt, yet they also contain important vitamins from the fruit within. Talk about an addicting snack.

Hummus and veggies.

Whether you choose to use celery, carrots, or bell peppers, there are quite a bit of flavors of hummus out there that will blow your mind. And the great thing about this snack is that it fits any diet, from vegan to your typical omnivore diet. Stock up on multiple flavors if you want to try all of them out. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Apples and peanut butter.

I honestly hadn’t heard of this until about a month ago when my niece came up to me and asked if I wanted a bite of her apple. She had peanut butter on it, which I thought was different, but after giving it a bite I realized how amazing it was. The juiciness of the apple was able to cut how dry peanut butter can be, which made a perfect blend of dipping material and dipping “sauce.” As they always say, apples everyday are amazing for your health, and peanut butter is an underrated superfood that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

These three snacks are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to healthy alternatives to your typical candy boxes and popcorn (funny how the tastiest, most unhealthy foods out there can be found right in a theater). Do your own exploration when it comes to healthier snacks. Even if it means getting produce and trying different dips or combinations, you’re far better off eating fresh things compared to processed foods.

Art and Appreciation

Anytime I find myself wanting to do something fun or interesting or engaging these days, I end up somehow keeping my mind occupied by something stimulating. At first, it was just reading books I had stored in some old cardboard boxes. This kept me interested in something new with each read-through of an old book. It stimulated me in ways that not much else would and, to be honest, brought me back to a time that I had the free time to read as much as I wanted.

But then I started to take on a new hobby, and that was going to museums and gardens to view art. Art is, honestly, complex enough to seem pointless or confusing or “dumb” to people who don’t take the time to appreciate it, understand it, or “get” it.

I can’t blame them, though. I used to be one of them. I don’t think I ever thought of art as dumb. It was just confusing to me and left me with more questions than I came with. Little did I know, however, that that meant the art was working. It made me question it, question things. It made me feel things without me realizing that I was feeling them. And that, honestly, is the essence of art.

Perhaps it took me visiting a few art museums with my fiancee to see the true beauty of it all. Perhaps it was the fact that we gave each piece a healthy amount of time to sink in, which allowed us to think about it and discuss it afterwards. Perhaps it was neither of those things and I just haven’t visited an art museum in a long while. Yet now that I’ve read more and grown more and thought more and seen more and experienced more, I understand it better than I would have when I was younger.

No matter the case, I’ve a newfound obsession with viewing art. I no longer want to just stick to my books from my cardboard boxes. Instead, I want to go out and apply the knowledge I’ve gained from those books. I want to think about things. I want to appreciate things. I want to understand what it is that makes these things called art so good, so high culture.

With a little help from my experiences growing up, the things I learned in class from college, and the books and articles I continue to read, I think I can learn to appreciate art to its fullest. It’ll take time, and it’ll likely take multiple viewings, but I want to be able to achieve that.

Health Benefits of Candy

Most people like to indulge in a candy bar now and then, but doing so regularly has negative effects on your health. Candy is high in sugar and many types also contain unhealthy amounts of fat and calories. Sweets often contain no nutrients, making them empty calories that contribute to health problems. That being said – who doesn’t enjoy a handful of candy every so often! Below are some facts and ideas on exactly how candy and sugar can affect your health, and what changes need to be made in your life to combat candy and sugar!

Weight Gain

The ingredients used to make candy are full of calories. Sugar, chocolate, caramel, nuts and nougat are several examples of ingredients used to make candy that are high in calories and, in some cases, fat. Eating too many calories every day results in weight gain if you cannot burn them off. To keep weight under control and still enjoy candy, choose “fun-size” versions and stick to one piece. It’s helpful to purchase candy boxes that have a ton of the fun-size bars in the box, and then keeping that box in a place in the house you don’t often open up. That way, when you are really craving a treat, you can just grab one out of the box!

Reduces Nutrient Intake

If you are filling up on candy, you leave little room for nutrient-dense foods that support your health. Candy contains no vitamins and very small, if any, amounts of minerals, which means you are satisfying hunger but doing nothing to meet your daily nutrient intake requirements. Furthermore, high sugar intake actually robs you of much needed nutrients, such as calcium, because your body must use them to digest sugar. This contributes to the development of nutrient deficiencies, including iron, vitamins A and C, and calcium, which results in a variety of health problems, including anemia and a lowered immunity.

Increases the Risk of Disease

High-fat, high-calorie and high-sugar diets are responsible for a whole host of health conditions. Large amounts of sugar contributes to insulin resistance, which can cause diabetes. My roommate was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Why there is not a definite connect to be made, we think that since he had so many sweets in high school and college led to his insulin becoming resistant and now his life is changed forever. In college, he often had whole candy boxes stacked up in his room, and would eat handfuls of candy as his dinner!

So try and reduce candy intake as much as you can, and it will lead to living a healthier lifestyle in general.

Will Our Future Move Forward or Regress?

As science moves forward and humanity finds ways to expand civilization and its grasp on the Earth, I often get to wondering what the future holds. You know, questions like “When will we right the problem that is global warming?” and “When will we colonize Mars?” cross my mind quite often.

When these things happen, when we finally move forward and everyone sees what the real problems of our species are (i.e., not petty things like social media likes and selfish politicians making laws for mere states), I think things will advance quite rapidly. The problem currently is that everyone is split. Everyone sees the world differently. Some only envision money. Others only see God. And even still others just care about their simple little life in their simple little town. Only a chunk of humanity realizes the problems that lie ahead of us with our planet and what’s next with another planet. Only that chunk cares about those things at the moment and refuses to look at the here and now as the be all, end all. That chunk sees generations ahead of now and realizes there will be no future if we don’t start righting the ship here and now.

So, when we all collectively agree on the problems that lie before us, that’s when I think science will rocket forward like no other age in human history. That’s when the amount of funding for science will blow all other ages out of the water and we will advance more quickly than we know what to do with all the new findings.

This is the time I’m talking about. This is what I look forward to. Even basic materials like cardboard boxes, the current king of shipping materials, may be outdone by cheaper, stronger, lighter weight materials. As funny as that sounds, I often do think about things as simple as the shipping materials we use. For a long while, cardboard boxes have dominated the market. But I know there are lighter and stronger materials out there. It’s all a matter of time before we find a way to mass produce those materials for cheap. When that time comes, you’ll know that everything has been revolutionized.

What’s funny is that those materials, though, won’t come without a focus on space. When we pool our efforts, minds, and resources towards space, magical things happen. The internet becomes a thing. Worldwide shipping becomes a thing. New materials spring up and we start realizing how great they are in comparison to the materials we used to use. Space exploration uses the most cutting edge technologies and materials, and that’s how we improve our current materials and ways of thinking: by focusing on space.

A Diet Change Isn’t as Simple as Picking the New Fad

I’m the sort of person who doesn’t buy into the most recent fad diets out there that you’ll see plastered across news headlines at the checkout line in groceries. In fact, I’ve done a bit of digging to really uncover which diets “work” and which ones don’t, and more often than not it’s all up to the individual’s body, their total caloric intake, and generally what sort of exercise they do. A keto diet isn’t going to help you lose weight just because you follow it to a T based on someone else’s diet plan. Paleo diets aren’t going to get you anywhere if you load up on meat and only meat just because it’s part of the diet. That’s just not how it all works.

I think the only “tried and true” diet out there that is genuinely (and scientifically) beneficial to you and your body is something close to a vegetarian diet. While full on veganism can have its troubles (such as getting enough protein without the aid of dairy products or meat), vegetarianism meets a nice balance of both without needing to eat meat. I’d even venture to say that pescetarianism (vegetarianism plus eating fish) is even healthier simply because of the healthy amounts of proteins and fatty acids found in all sorts of fish.

No matter the case, though, I’ve recently resigned myself to cut out red meats, white meats, and processed foods. My fiancee and I love to cook original dishes, cultural dishes, and everything therein. I think we’ve just been missing a bit of direction with our diet, meaning we’re often found snacking on chips late at night, munching on candy boxes during a Netflix film, or slogging over a hunk of steak when we simply don’t need that much food.

I’ve been a huge fan of Japanese culture for a long part of my life, and I think there’s a reason most Japanese people stay small, fit, and healthy (which all contributes to their longer average lifespan compared to Americans). And I think that’s their dependence on fish, fresh vegetables, and smaller portions. What else could you really need in an island culture such as theirs?

Really, there’s nothing more that humans really need. It’s just that we’ve had such insane amounts of technological leaps and bounds over the past half century that food has become so entirely specialized and processed to save money. In reality, though, all you need to do is go back to our roots, make your own meals with fresh ingredients, and profit. Your body will thank you. Your mind will thank you. And your future self will thank you when you’re much healthier than you could have been had you kept your chips and candy boxes around.