I love nuts. I tend to use them as a snack – or more specifically, combined with a piece of fruit to make a nice snack. My clients are probably pretty used to seeing me at Custom Strength eating a small container of roasted unsalted almonds (Herb & Spice on Wellington has particularly delicious ones) and a banana partway through my late afternoon/early evening personal training shift. I tend to go with a medium banana and about 2 tablespoons of almonds, for a nice sub 200 calorie snack with a decent amount of fat and at least some protein.
On Friday I made the mistake of buying salted nuts. I didn’t have time to get to the Herb & Spice, so picked up a container of salted mixed nuts, figuring that I’m not really a salt-head, so a bit of extra salt wasn’t going to kill me. And it didn’t. But it did teach me something: salted nuts are addictive! Or addicting as my American friends would say. Anyone else noticed that little Canadian-American difference? Or is it just the Californians who say addicting?
It was uncanny! I usually have no problem limiting myself to just one serving of nuts, but since bringing these salty snacks into my house on Friday, about 5 minutes after I eat what is normally a satisfying serving, I find myself back in the kitchen getting another serving. And another. It was crazy! I have to wonder how many other people are snacking on nuts because they’ve heard of the health benefits, only to end up ruining their healthy eating efforts by consuming 3 or 4 times more than they meant to.
David Kessler, author of The end of overeating probably wouldn’t be surprised. The primary thesis of his book is that foods that are high in salt and fat, sugar and fat, or salt and sugar and fat, make us eat more, regardless of whether our caloric needs have been met. Salted nuts definitely fit the salty-fat category.
If this sounds like you, then switch to unsalted nuts ASAP! You may find initially that they don’t taste as good, but that’s just your taste buds adjusting – and they will adjust. As I noted above, roasted unsalted almonds are my favourite – they are delicious!
Anyone else experience this? Or encountered similar situations with other foods?
Elsbeth Vaino, B.Sc., CSCS, is a personal trainer at Custom Strength in Ottawa, Canada.
 The end of overeating, David A. Kessler, M.D., 2009, Rodale Inc.