When I do consultations with prospective clients , one thing I always ask about is what they think their weakness is when it comes to nutrition. Some of the most common responses I get are, "I can't control my snacking" , "I have a sweet tooth" , or late night eating. Your body rarely does something for no reason, so I decided to break down the reasons we have these cravings, and give some alternatives to some of the unhealthy snacks that we love.
Sure there's a million articles written on healthy snacks, suggesting things like roast beef and horseradish cream on pear, beet chips with curried yogurt, or lemony avocado with endive dippers but who's packing that kind of stuff and bringing it to work or on the road!? Unless you have a personal chef, your snacks are more like a handful of Doritos or some M&ms. We need practical, easily prepped and packed snacks , that are nutritionally dense. Here's my list of alternative snacks for each craving we have.
Why: Salt promotes water retention, which is why potato chips make you bloated. Majority of the time if you're craving salt its from dehydration from sweat, vomiting , or diarrhea. If the craving is new, and very persistent, it could mean you have under active Adrenal glands. In that case you need to see a doctor.
What to feed it: Put the potato chips down! Go for sea salted Dark chocolate almonds instead. These are one of my favorite snacks, but be careful with these because dark chocolate is very high in fat. Buy the squares instead of an entire bar, if you get the bar , chances are you're going to eat the entire thing. Dark chocolate can also boost your production of endorphins, improving your mood, so its the perfect cure for the times when you're "hangry." More healthy salt craving alternatives are snapea crisps, kale chips, crispy roasted red peppers, sea salted sweet potato chips.
Why: Insomnia, stress, and adrenal fatigue are just a few of the reasons you may crave sugar. The next night you don't get enough sleep, take note of how much junk food you crave the next day. Stress and Insomnia can destroy healthy eating habits fast.
What to feed it: Fruit, healthy fats, or both will cure this craving. The natural sugar in fruits come with vitamins that will give you a healthier, longer lasting boost. The fat will improve your mood, balancing out the hormones caused by stress. To keep your blood sugar levels from spiking you still want to go for the less sweet fruits. Some examples of these fruits would be berries of all kinds, grape fruit, apples, oranges, cherries, and grapes.
Why: Fat is the tricky one. A fat craving can mean you either don't have enough fat in your system , or you have too much and you're addicted. Our brains are pretty much made of fat, they're about 60% fat. Your brain cannot perform a number of its functions without it. Fat stimulates the neurotransmitters dopamine and endorphins, so eating too many highly concentrated sources fats can lead to addiction. Some examples of high concentrated fats would be, butter, coconut oil, cheese, fatty cuts of meat (bacon), fatty nuts (cashews). Combine these fats with the stimulation of sugar and you have yourself a drug. This is why fast food taste so good, and you feel like you can eat it even after you're full. Not having enough fat can result in depression, moodiness, and lack of focus. In this case you're more likely to just eat whatever you think will make you feel better, rather than have a serving of a healthy fat like maybe half of an avocado.
What to feed it: Fat cravings are more indirect. By the time you're craving fat chances are you won't be able to make the connection, you will just go straight for the "comfort food". The best way to avoid fat cravings is to make sure you're getting a balanced amount with each meal. A good scale to use is your own hand, you should have a portion of about two thumbs of healthy fats with every meal.