Dr. Katz
Photo: Mackenzie Stroh
Q: I am obsessed with chips of any flavor. I can sit and eat a whole bag with no problem. Can you suggest ways I can control this craving, along with a healthier alternative? I have tried popcorn, but I'm growing tired of it, plus I usually put a lot of butter on it.

A: You're relying on willpower alone to deny yourself something you want. That may be the way most people deal with cravings, but it rarely works. Let me suggest using skill power instead: Start reading labels to lower the amount of sodium—salt—in your diet, and you'll begin to tame your craving for those chips.

When your taste buds are continually bombarded by a flavor, you need more and more of it to satisfy that craving. Your need for salty chips comes from eating a lot of salt—which you may be doing without realizing it. Sodium turns up in many unexpected places. Ounce for ounce, most breakfast cereals have more salt than the chips you love, and that dose in the morning leaves you craving more in the afternoon.

You can break the cycle by following this rule: Make sure a food that isn't supposed to be salty—such as cereal or cookies—has less sodium in milligrams per serving than calories. Health Valley, Nature's Path and Kashi are good brands to try. This will allow you to reduce your salt intake and rein in your cravings before you even begin the process of eliminating the obviously salty foods in your diet.

When you must satisfy your salt tooth, be sure to make a good choice. My short list includes the Guiltless Gourmet line of baked corn chips, Garden of Eatin' chips, and Cape Cod 40% Reduced Fat potato chips.

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