Eating clean 99-percent of the time is a challenge, but doable. While prepping for a show, there are limited options of food I can eat.
I'm basically a child; when I can't have it, I want it. "No" directly translates in my head to "how can I sneak this into my tummy?"
On a daily basis, I crave chocolate, watermelon-flavored anything, multiple jars of peanut butter and pretty much everything I cannot eat.* So, how do I combat this grave issue? I incorporate all of these miscellaneous goodies into my diet to satisfy those raging cravings. (I do eliminate these during the week prior to my competition to get rid of any excess bloat.)
Lend a helping hand to your taste buds with 10 of my favorite "extras"
1. Mrs. Dash seasoning: These salt-free, all-natural, no MSG seasonings and marinades are a must-have pantry item for everyone! Sodium tends to hold excess water weight, so there's no need to add salt with these flavor-filled spice mixtures. My favorites are Southwestern Chipotle and Fiesta Lime blends. Throw cubed chicken breast in a pan sprayed lightly with coconut oil. Add Mrs. Dash Seasoning of choice, and cook on medium heat for 5-10 minutes! Protein portion of meal prep, check.
2. Hot sauce: Spice things up with hot sauce and spike your metabolism too? According to a NY Times article, "one study by Canadian researchers this year looked at a group of adult men and found that those who were served hot sauce with appetizers before a meal went on to consume on average about 200 fewer calories at lunch and in later meals than their peers who did not have anything with capsaicin. The researchers suggested that capsaicin may work as an appetite suppressant."
3. Wrigley's Extra sugar-free gum: I learned this the hard way, but try chewing gum if you "think" you're hungry. I stick a piece of gum in my mouth almost immediately after a meal. It shocks my taste buds into thinking it's getting dessert or minty-fresh burst of goodness. Try it. My favorite flavors are sweet watermelon, polar ice and the dessert delights' raspberry vanilla cupcake flavor.
4. Smucker's sugar-free preserves: I'm a PB&J diehard fan. I prefer the sugar-free preserves over the jelly. Smucker's brand does not hurt my stomach and it's full of flavor. The raspberry and strawberry are my favorites. I literally add this to anything (usually paired with peanut butter): my oatmeal, rice cakes, protein pancakes and even in my protein shakes (Cellucor's Peanut Marshmallow Whey Performance, Smucker's sugar-free raspberry preserves, PB2, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, ice cubes. Done and done.)
5. PB2 peanut butter powder: At only 45 calories for 2 tablespoons, this is hard to beat if you're a peanut butter lover and addict like myself. I eat it plain mixed with water to form a peanut butter consistency. Try adding it to a scoop of protein powder and a tiny bit of water and microwave to make pudding. Or, add it to the walden farms syrup for a PB-flavored syrup. The options are endless!
6. Crystal Light to-go packets: Drinking over a gallon of water per day can get monotonous at times. Change up the flavors with Crystal Light. My favorite is the raspberry lemonade flavor. I add it to a water bottle and stick in the freezer for 20 minutes, shake it up and it becomes a healthy slushy!
7. Truvia: This is the only sweetener I use. It's all natural, derived from the Stevia plant and doesn't bother my stomach. I generally add it to my coffee and oatmeal and put a packet in a plastic baggie of sliced grapefruit to subdue the tart taste.
8. Walden Farm's Caramel Dip and Pancake Syrup: I am not condoning an excessive use of artificial substitutes, but I couldn't live without these two. I can't say the same about all of Walden Farms' products. Make sure to look at the sodium content on each product too. Some of their products taste like a chemical explosion in your mouth, so beware. However, I have thoroughly enjoyed the pancake syrup for my protein pancakes and in my morning oatmeal and the Caramel Dip for sliced apples and in my protein shakes and pudding.
9. Cocoa powder: To satisfy my massive choco-holism, I add cocoa powder to make my shakes and pudding at night. Make sure it's unsweetened and the only ingredient is "cocoa powder."
10. Cinnamon: I think this is the No. 1 underutilized spice. It can be added to sweet and savory dishes, coffee, shakes, rice cakes, homemade roasted almonds, basically any food or drink. Just try it!
*Note: I am not pregnant. Just hungry. All the time.