Dear Lea

Dear Lea: I am reasonably health conscious but when I get hungry, I crave sugary snacks that leave me dissatisfied about half an hour after consumption (low energy, tired, irritable). What types of snacks should I be looking to consume between meals so I don’t have this craving? Also, do you have an opinion on which sweeteners are better than others (e.g., Spelnda vs. Stevia, etc.)?  –JH.

Dear JH,

Sugary, processed snacks cause spikes and drops in your blood sugar so no wonder these do not work for you. The best types of snacks are made from whole grains, beans, vegetables, and those that contain protein and healthy fat. Protein, fats, beans and whole grains even out your blood sugar response so you don’t feel tired half an hour after you eat them.

Some examples of healthy fats are nuts, nut butters and avocado. Proteins include any animal product such as meat, fish, chicken, cheese and eggs as well as tofu and tempeh. For a quick “carry with you” protein snack, try egg white chips or jerky. Bread, crackers or snack foods made with whole grains and beans are healthier than those with processed or refined grains. The first few ingredients should be whole grains, beans or vegetables.

We carry many of these healthy products in our online store. Try some of our trail mixes, Cranberry Cashew Quinoa clusters, Dang coconut chips, Jumpstart bars, Lentil crackers, Plentils, Falafel chips, Bean and Rice chips, Sprouted Tortilla chips, Brown Rice crackers and more….

As far as Stevia vs. Splenda. This is often a topic of debate. Splenda (Sucralose is the generic name) is on the FDA GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list while Stevia is not. This is because there have been more studies done on Splenda and not enough on Stevia. In other words, there hasn’t been enough research to say which is healthier.

Both are considered zero calorie so would be better to use than any type of sugar if one is glucose intolerant. Stevia has been known to interfere with the metabolism of some medications, particularly some for hypertension. One may say that Stevia is made from a plant vs. Splenda that is chemically produced. If a plant is processed enough to become a white powder, is it still natural?

As with any substance moderation is the key. Neither has been found to be dangerous in moderate amounts.


DSC01005Lea Basch is a registered dietitian and has been in the nutrition industry for over 30 years, most of which she spent at Longmont United Hospital in Boulder, Colorado, where she was one of the founders of the facility’s nutrition program. Longmont’s Planetree philosophy of caring for the body, mind and spirit of patients is very much in line with Lea’s interest in both traditional and alternative therapies for treating chronic illnesses. Gluten-intolerant herself, Lea now focuses much of her time on the latest research and issues relating to gluten-free diets and other food intolerances. She is a diabetes educator and is a Registered Dietitian with the American Dietetic Association. Lea’s lifelong passion has been combining the science of nutrition with the heart that it takes to change lifelong habits.

Lea received her BS and MS in Nutrition and Dietetics at Florida International University and BA in Education at University of Florida. Ask Lea your nutrition questions at

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