By Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RN
I, for one, am totally guilty. I love food, and it’s pretty hard for me to completely ignore unhealthy but savory treats.
Of course, just because you’re tempted doesn't mean you have to fully “submit to temptation.”
As a matter of fact, sometimes you can substitute your unhealthy food craving with something that is actually healthy. Sound reasonable?
Here are some solid ideas for dealing with unhealthy food cravings like a champion. Don’t fully submit to temptation. We can help you!
Why Do You Crave Unhealthy Foods?1. Your diet:
Your diet could very well be the reason. When you eat sugar (or starchy foods), it causes your insulin levels to spike. This, in turn, makes you desire more sugar.
The solution is to avoid high-carb, sugary foods and include more fiber and protein in your diet. Both help to prevent blood sugar spikes.
Supplements can also help. Chromium and cinnamon extracts, for example, maintain healthy blood sugar levels.1,2 And remember when your blood sugar levels are balanced, you’re less likely to crave sweets.
2. Your brain chemistry:
Your brain chemistry could be the other reason why you get unhealthy cravings. When you crave carbs, your brain may actually be looking for a boost of certain neurotransmitters.
Serotonin levels spike when you eat carbs. Dopamine also surges when you indulge in your favorite sweets. Supplementation could help to balance your neurotransmitters and may prevent unhealthy food cravings.
Saffron extract, for example, has been suggested to boost serotonin and dopamine levels.3 In studies, women taking it report an improved mood and a decreased desire to snack. They’re also less likely to binge on carbs.4
Healthier Substitutes for Unhealthy FoodsTo avoid indulging, you need to have a plan in place for when those unhealthy cravings hit. Yes, you could just ignore that piece of cake offered to you at work, but wouldn't it be nice to treat yourself with something when the mood hits?
So the next time you get a craving, take this list of substitutes out. It could save you some calories and grief in the long run.
Give these ideas a shot:
|Candy||Nuts, fresh berries, homemade dried strawberries|
|Ice cream||Unsweetened yogurt with fruit or frozen, low-sugar smoothie|
|French fries||Baked zucchini bites|
|Chocolate bars||Unsweetened dark chocolate coca nibs|
|Nachos||Avocado spread with quinoa crackers|
|Pie||Apples (or your favorite fruit) with almond or cashew butter|
|Lasagna||Stuffed peppers or tomatoes with lean protein|
|Mashed potatoes||Sweet potatoes, mashed green plantains or mashed cauliflower|
|Potato chips||Kale chips or your favorite homemade baked veggie chips with hummus|
|Soda||Naturally flavored seltzer water or seltzer water splashed with a hint of juice|
|Milkshakes||low-sugar smoothies with avocado base|
|Bonbons||homemade whey balls|
|White crackers||Low-carb almond crackers or quinoa crackers with hummus|
|Fried foods||Lightly breaded and baked foods|
|Cake||Homemade protein chia bars|
Tip: A good snack incorporates protein with carbohydrates. It’s the right combo to prevent blood sugar spikes.
What About You?How do you deal with unhealthy food cravings? Have any tricks up your sleeve? Please share!
- Int J Diab Dev Ctries. 2010 Jul-Sep;30(3):153-61.
- Eur J Clin Invest. 2006 May;36(5):340-4.
- BMC Complement Altern Med. 2004 Sep 2;4:12.
- Nutraveris; 2006. Unpublished study.
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