Eating the right foods can feel like hard work. It’s even harder when your body seems to crying out for carbs, sugar, salt, and fat. Because when that happens, there are WAY too many temptations around you – and they’re all high in calories!
Food cravings are quite normal. A craving is a strong desire for a specific food: a desire that can seem like it won’t go away unless you eat the food. Although some researchers believe that food cravings last only about 3-5 minutes, most people can feel that they last all day!
Cravings are usually for foods that are ‘bad’ for you: junk foods, sweet foods and processed foods. Foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat.
But guess what? Nutritionists get these cravings too – and they know how to deal with them. Turns out there are HEALTHY foods out there that curb your cravings and don’t make you fatter!
Prepare to get healthier!
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What To Eat When Craving Salt
If you’re desperate for potato chips, salted peanuts or fries, your body could actually be craving the minerals in the salt. Salt is actually a necessary part of your diet: it helps to control the balance of fluids in your body. The amount of water in your blood must be kept within a small range, and the right intake of salt helps to keep this in balance. That’s why athletes have to add salt to their fluids after they’ve been sweating a lot. Unfortunately, salty snacks we’re inclined to reach for usually high in calories and fat.
BUT – it’s very easy to satisfy your salt cravings with a healthy alternative. Try these:
Organic air-popped popcorn with sea salt: Popcorn is low in calories when it’s air-popped – NOT when it’s covered in butter! Add some flavor with sea salt or herbs, such as garlic, rosemary, or cayenne pepper.
Celery sticks/carrots sticks/cucumber sticks sprinkled with lime juice and salt: These are super low in calories, rich in nutrients. They’re also salty and crunchy and satisfying!
What To Eat When Craving Sugar
When you’re craving sugar, it could be a sign that your body is low in energy and needs a quick pick-me-up. The easiest way to solve this is to reach for a pack of M&Ms, right? Wrong! Candy is the worst way to respond to sugar cravings. Your blood sugar levels will spike, giving you a ‘sugar rush’, but this will be promptly followed by a huge crash. And guess what – you’ll be tired again. And obviously looking for another energy hit!
If you need something sweet, try these instead!
Fresh fruit: Fruits such as bananas, apples, melons, and prunes are wonderfully sweet and readily available. They’re also ultimately satisfying because of their high fiber content. Fiber is what fills you up, curbing your body’s signals that you haven’t eaten enough. Not only that, fruit contains lots of beneficial nutrients that your body needs anyway!
Yogurt – natural or frozen: Natural Greek yogurt is rich in beneficial probiotics that can help to counter the ‘bad’ bacteria in your gut that may also be contributing to your food cravings. And when you add fruit, it’s a delicious low-calorie snack for any time of the day! Yogurt is also an excellent source of protein and calcium that your body is probably hanging out for.
Simply blend natural Greek yogurt (unsweetened!) in a food processor with a little fresh or frozen fruit, such as berries or bananas. You can even try adding nuts for extra fiber and texture.
What To Eat When Craving Chocolate
Real dark chocolate is high in magnesium - so, a chocolate craving may be a sign that your body is LOW in magnesium. Considering that around half of US adults are thought to be low in this vital mineral, it’s no surprise that chocolate seems to be everywhere we turn! Women may crave chocolate more when they’re menstruating.
Almonds: These healthy little nuts are an excellent source of both magnesium and fiber - not to mention protein. All of these nutrients will help to fill you up without the need for a chocolate binge.
Dark chocolate: Yes, you CAN solve a craving by eating chocolate - but only if it’s pure, dark chocolate with the absolute bare minimum of sugar. Think 70-90% cacao. You’ll be quenching your chocolate craving with just a couple of squares.
What To Eat When Craving Carbs
Carb cravings are most common when you’re stressed. This is because your body’s levels of stress hormone (cortisol) elevate, causing your blood sugar levels to jump up as well. Elevated blood sugar levels can lead to a release of insulin, the hormone that stores fat. If insulin stores too much fat, you’ll be left with too little sugar in the blood - and your body will tell you to seek some out, pronto.
Here’s what to solve that problem with!
Raw Carrots and Hummus: Fiber, protein, salt, and crunch. You’ll restore your blood sugar levels and save on hundreds of calories.
Roasted chickpeas: As good as potato chips - but packed with fiber and salty goodness.
Baked cheese. Make these at home by lining a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and baking at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. The carb-free protein that’ll turn you off bread for good!
Spaghetti squash noodles or zucchini noodles: These are the ultimate carb-free alternative to wheat-based noodles. All the texture and flavor of real noodles without the carbs!
Cauliflower pizza: There are lots of recipes online for making this delicious but carb-free pizza base. You’ll never go back to wheat!
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