Ugh…How to Deflect Cravings
It’s 3:30 pm – or worse 10:30 pm. Here come the hunger pangs…ugh. You want chips or Doritos, maybe the soda pick-me-up. Or are you more the king size candy bar type? We all have our cravings and weaknesses – you aren’t alone. The questions is: what do you eat? Do healthy snacks exist?
Kids Under 2 Instinctively Choose Veggies
When I offered my 21-month old nephew steamed broccoli, he cast his bowl of cheeze-it crackers and cheeze curls aside (his favorite “nack”) and chowed down on the broccoli, saying “num, num, num.” Why?
Because when steamed just right, like most veggies, the natural sweetness comes out and broccoli actually tastes sweet. When young, before they’ve inherited our bad habits and food prejudices, children instinctively eat what their bodies need – as long as it tastes good. And when cooked properly, broccoli tastes good all on its own.
Why Is It So Hard for Us?
Adults get out of touch because we make food choices with other baggage and bad habits that children haven’t developed. Between the ages of 2 and 3, we begin to pass our issues and habits onto children, assuming they will want the cracker because we choose the cracker over broccoli. There are veggies out there for everyone. Learn how to cook them properly, change your bad habits, and GIVE VEGGIES A CHANCE!!
Snacking Can Be Healthy
Snacking is not only ok, it’s actually a healthy thing – as long as the portions are not the size of a lamb chop and the food choices fall into the main categories of foods from which we should be eating:
- Veggies and fruits
- Whole grains
- Lean Protein sources: Fish, lean meat (chicken and turkey breast, pork), whole soy foods
- Good fats: Nuts (especially almonds and walnuts), seeds (ground flax), avocados, high quality oils (flax, olive, coconut)
Crap – where’s the potato chip category? Surely soda must be its own group – it has lots of friends. And what about ice cream? Candy bars? No? Bummer, I know. So where does that leave us?
If You Are Craving Sugar
When you crave sugar – the worst thing to eat is…you guessed it – eat SUGAR. You will feed the craving and continue the craving loop. Sugar cravings can be a sign of:
- Good fat deficiency
- B vitamin deficiency (which many nuts and grains, i.e. good sources of fats have)
- Lack of complex carbohydrates (whole grains, legumes, and veggies)
- An imbalance of healthy flora in the digestive tract (too much yeast
- Lack of protein
- Low blood sugar
- An overall imbalanced diet
- Lack of nutrition (too little food or too little quality food with nutritive value) which can lead to a number of other deficiencies
What Can You Do…
1. A handful of nuts can be a life saver – and that is your portion, a handful.
- Walnuts are high in Omega-3’s
- Almonds (like flax seed) are high in phytoestrogens (women!), helping the body to keep that estrogen in check, which can increase metabolism.
- Fats tend to have a satisfying quality to them, another reason why they help curb sugar cravings. Often, people on super lowfat diets eat a ton of sugar and then don’t understand why they don’t lose weight – because sugar will keep you hungry and unsatisfied and add unburned calories that turn to fat, whereas good fats keep you full and burn fat. Bye-bye pounds.
2. Eat regular meals. If you leave large gaps and wait to eat until you are starving when your blood sugar drops your body may crave sugar. If you go for it, you’ll be denying your body the nutrition it really craves. When you crave sugar, think of your body simply saying, “Feed me,” not “Feed me sugar.” Go for a nutritious meal or snack – give your body something that truly feeds it. Regular meals can stave off sugar cravings.
3. Feed your body flavor. Give your body something flavorful or spicy, a roasted garlic or chipolte hummus or guacamole with 1 – 2 servings of veggies – something with flavor and a good fat – omg, revolutionary! Spice and seasoning can distract your body from a craving. Whaaaat?
4. Chromium picolinate – occurs naturally in the body and helps regulate blood sugar. If you have real issues with sugar cravings you can take 200 mcg’s of this mineral as a supplement daily to help your body regulate cravings and blood sugar.
5. Track what you eat – use your snacks to fill in the gaps of your meals. Cravings are typically a sign of imbalance – look for where yours is and adjust your diet accordingly.
When you get the craving feed it with what you haven’t eaten much of that day, be it a good fat, protein, a complex carbohydrate, etc.
If You Are Craving Salty Snacks
One of the most common causes of salt cravings is….DEHYDRATION!! So, first and foremost, drink your water – all 64 ounces. And for each caffeine or alcoholic drink that you have a day add another 8 ounces. And if you are exercising vigorously you will need well more than 64 ounces as well.
Salt cravings can also be caused by weak adrenals from stress or hypertension – in other words it’s a sign telling you that something is up. Your job is to listen so you know how to respond. If your body does truly need salt, the place to get it is not from salty snacks. So what do you do…
1. Reduce your stress (yoga, deep breathing, meditation, walking). This combined with hydrating yourself properly may be enough to make your salt cravings disappear.
2. Avoid the refined carbohydrates that you crave – even if they say, “whole grain.” Pretzels, potato chips, any chip – the salty snacks are still a vehicle for sugar because those refined carbohydrates will break down into simple sugars in the body and end up in the same place – on your butt, thighs, or gut. Unburned carb’s choice!
3. Replace your standard table salt with unrefined sea salts. Your body may be deficient in the minerals that are present in sea salt/mineral salts and may be looking for them when you feed it salt. Celtic salt, quality sea salt have their minerals in tact.
4. Need more Potassium and Vitamin C? Stress can weaken the adrenals and drain the body of this mineral and vitamin.
Foods high in Potassium are: figs, raisins, apricots, wheat bran, potatoes when baked with the skin, bananas, avocados, dates, prune juice, orange juice, molasses, beans (super high), lentils, leafy greens (super high), brussels sprouts, and broccoli.
To get more vitamin C in your diet, include a variety of citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables and peppers.
5. Same #5 suggestion as under sugar – keep track of what you eat and use good snacks to fill in the gaps. If you crave salt often, drink your water, and turn to high Potassium and Vitamin C foods for help and see how you feel.
In the end, just like sugar cravings, salt cravings are your body’s way of telling you it needs something. But you have to translate what it’s telling you – it doesn’t speak to you literally or directly. Think of it like being in a relationship, where “no” often really means “yes,” and “I’m fine,” really means, “Jump off a bridge.”
Quick Healthy Snack Ideas
Handful of Nuts (Walnuts of Almonds are my Top Picks)
1-2 Servings Veggies with a 1/4 cup Flavorful or Spicy Hummus
1-2 Servings Veggies with 1/4 cup Guacamole
1 Serving of Fruit with 2-3 tsp Nut Butter (Almond butter, Peanut butter, Soynut butter, Sunflower butter)
1 Serving of Fruit with a Soft Cheese (1 ounce)
1/2 cup Steamed Edamame
My Quick Yogurt
My Roasted Smoky Chic Peas (make a healthier low fat crunchy snack with fiber and protein)