I love Cheez-Its, but I can’t keep them in the house because I eat the whole box.  Is there a way to bring them back into my life in moderation, or is there a healthier alternative?  — Cheezy Chomper

You’re not alone, Cheezy Chomper.  There’s something about crispy, salty snacks that many people find addictive.  In fact, that’s why many bars offer salty snacks at their establishments to help increase alcohol consumption.  It’s easy to sit down with a bag of chips and munch through 5 or 6 servings without thinking twice.  That’s part of the danger of eating straight from the bag or the box, rather than measuring out a single serving and stopping there.  And I’m guessing is what happens when you buy a box of Cheez-Its.  Try putting a serving in a bowl and put the box in a hard to reach place in the cupboard, and see if that works.  If you’re still struggling, the safest bet is to keep away!  Out of sight, out of mind.

Our mantra at the Barn is “choose natural instead of artificial ingredients”. Cheez-Its contain artificial ingredients, so it’s time to switch to “real food.”  Sure, Cheez-Its claim to be made with real cheese, but they are also made with preservatives, artificial coloring, and plenty of other ingredients that are not so natural.

Cheez-Its are addictive snacking food. How do you resist? (photo from www.cheez-it.com)

Try these healthy suggestions to satisfy your salty craving:

  • Eat whole grain crackers with slices of fresh cheese.  Jarlsberg tends to be lower in fat than other cheeses, making it a good choice for snacking.  Or perhaps low fat cheddar, like Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese, will do the trick.   The real cheese should satiate you much faster than the Cheez-its, plus you’ll be getting some calcium and protein, too.  The cracker will also bring whole grains into your diet, which are a good source of dietary fiber and may help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.  Cheese itself does contain saturated fat (the bad fat–not good for your heart), so stick with a serving size or two!
  • Snack on veggies because they deliver the same crispiness as crackers: celery (a naturally salty veggie), carrots, and cucumbers are all super-crisp veggies that make for easy snacking.
  • Explore a variety of dips and spreads, like hummus, almond butter, or yogurt-based tzatziki for veggie dipping or whole wheat cracker spreading.
  • Use a pinch of sea salt.  This weekend I tried ½ of a Hass avocado mashed with a pinch of sea salt over a WASA Whole Grain Crispbread and it was delicious and satisfied my salt-craving palate, too!

All these healthy suggestions will give you that same crunchy, salty combination that you’ve been getting from the Cheez-Its, but you’ll also be eating whole foods with real nutritional value.  With time, your body won’t even crave those high-sodium, unnaturally orange crackers!


– Stacey Antine, M.S. R.D., author, Appetite for Life and founder, HealthBarn USA

Do you have a confession to share with Stacey?  Want to learn how to improve an unsavory habit?  Send your stories our way to [email protected], and Stacey will help!

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