Don’t Fight Your Cravings… Listen to Them!
Cravings happen even to the healthiest of us. I worked hard to get a handle on my out-of-control sugar cravings a few years back, but they still creep up on me every now and again. I just returned home from a 2 week vacation that was incredibly indulgent, and you’d think after all that sugar and salt I’d be ready for a break, but I returned home only to find that my body is once again CRAVING these things!
And what happens when a cravings hits in the afternoon or the evening after dinner? We find ourselves staring into the fridge or pantry searching for a snack that will satisfy. Unfortunately, more often than not, the snacks we choose are junky, non-nutritious, and high in calories, sugar, or fat, and leave us feeling bloated and exhausted, which is the exact opposite of what a snack should do for us!
So what are we to do when these cravings have a hold on us?
The trick to snacking without piling on the pounds is to find healthy alternatives to the regular snacks you might normally reach for.
Usually, when we get a craving it is for either something sweet (chocolate!), savory (potato chips!), creamy (ice cream!), or crunchy (crisps!). Obviously, moderation is still always the key, but you don’t have to fight your cravings for the rest of your life! Try these healthy substitutions and you’ll most likely find that you’re craving gets met. If you find yourself still obsessing about the tub of ice cream, there’s probably a mental/ emotional component that needs to be addressed as well.
Next time you get a craving for something sweet, why not try:
- fresh, whole fruit (some of my favorite sweet fruits are berries, peaches, pears, canteloupe, watermelon and grapes)
- apples and almond butter
- dried fruit
- green smoothies
- banana “nice cream” (peel a banana, freeze, blend in a food processor with nuts and/or berries and serve)
- dates stuffed with almond butter or other nut butter
- organic dark chocolate chips or carob chips
For your savory cravings, try these healthy alternatives:
- pickles and pickled vegetables, such as carrot, daikon, beets, and lotus root
- tabouli, or hummus with veggies
- steamed vegetables with tamari/shoyu or umeboshi vinegar
- freshly made salsa or guacamole
- Sauerkraut (will also knock your sweet craving right out!)
- salted edamame
Your creamy cravings can be met by eating:
- rice pudding
- dips and spreads, like hummus and baba ghanoush
- puréed soups
- puddings made with chia seeds, avocado, or mashed banana
- mashed sweet potatoes
- coconut milk
Finally, don‘t cave and reach for the Pringles, when you can eat these crunchy (but still healthy) snacks:
- frozen grapes
- rice cakes
- light popcorn or plain popcorn (use coconut oil to pop in a covered pan)
- carrots (particularly the sweet, organic baby carrots)
- celery and nut butter
- raw, unsalted nuts like cashews, almonds, and walnuts
Keep in mind that it’s important to avoid processed foods if you want to keep your cravings in check. The chemically engineered flavor enhancers and sweeteners really mess with your brain chemistry, and make it significantly harder to make rational decisions. Also, make sure you are eating adequate amounts of protein, fiber and nutrient dense foods every day. Being deficient in any of these will send a signal to your body that something is missing, and it often gets mis-directed to the qiuck-fix solutions that lead to the vicious cravings cycle in the first place.
You also want to make sure you’re properly hydrated! Often when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually thirsty. Or bored! Drink a glass of water, get your body moving or find an activity that you find emtionally satisfying, and then check back in 20 minutes later…if you remember to! And sometimes it’s as simple brushing my teeth, or if I’m out and about, applying some peppermint lip balm and my cravings often go away.
As you can see, there’s lots you can do….but one thing I don’t want you doing is trying to fight your cravings…it’s not an easy (or fun!) battle to try and win! Instead, listen to what it is your body specifically wants and choose the healthier option that will be good to you, body, mind and soul. And of course….be sure to include indulgences a couple times a week, just keep the portions reasonable! Let’s not forget that there are times where the bowl of ice cream really IS the best option. 😉
Do you have a favorite strategy for keeping your cravings in check? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Looking for some more creative healthy snack options? I share some of my very faves in my 5 Day Clean Eating Mini-Reset!
Unlike my longer Seasonal Reboots, this Mini-Reset is self-guided, meaning you get to do it on your own time, whenever works best for you.
This program is for you if you’re looking for a simple way to jump-start your body, lose weight, and improve digestion in a few simple days.
This program is for you if you want to ditch the weekend guilt, boost your energy and get your glow on quickly.
Maybe this is your Monday-Friday solution.
Or your quick fix before you head off on that beach vacation.
Or possibly the post-holiday, “did-I-really-just-eat/drink-that-much?!”, solution.
Get all the details here: http://MeetBethAllen.com/Mini-Reset/