We all like to go on a healthy diet every now and then, and by a healthy diet, we mean eating healthy and banning sugar. That said, hunger can give birth to cravings and cravings can derail those healthy dietary changes in an instant…
Why do we crave junk food?
Very often, we decide to make positive lifestyle changes, and banish everything unhealthy from the kitchen. It’s like we decide to turn a new leaf, overnight! Our tongue, our hormones and very often our entire body conspires against us it seems, when hunger strikes and we start craving that bag of chips, or that jelly-filled crusty doughnut… We have an emotional connection with food, and our cravings are often a result of being in high-stress situations (like a diet). And if you give in to those cravings, guilt sets in pretty soon – starting a chain reaction of dieting, craving, giving in and then dieting from guilt again. The solution? Find healthier alternatives to your sugar cravings – ones that will satisfy your palate and add some healthy goodness as well…
According to most dieticians and nutritionists, we literally poison ourselves with sugar. Sugar in the form of glucose is a simple nutrient that breaks down without the body having to do much work, and so the body converts all the sugar into energy and consequentially fat to be stored, without burning any energy. Double whammy, right? Stored fat means we gain unhealthy weight. So what do you eat when your tongue throws a hissy fit and your body craves sweet things that do it no good?
- Nibble on Fresh Fruits: Fruits are loaded with antioxidants and various phytonutrients, along with plenty of fiber as well. The sugar in fruits is mostly sucrose, which is a complex carbohydrate -- something the body burns energy to break down. Thus a sugar craving should be tackled with fruit – think of luscious berries, juicy grapes and melons, tangy citrus and tropical goodness like mangoes, pineapples and bananas. And if you can’t decide on which fruit to eat, try a fruit salad instead…
- Dip into Low-Fat Yogurt: There’s nothing as good for you as probiotics, and yogurt is loaded with the all the digestive goodness of this healthy bacteria. A sugar craving for something cold and sweet can easily be tackled with flavored yogurt – though we suggest you add in some fruit chunks or puree to plain yogurt to skip the added calories that flavored yogurt on shelves has.
- Chomp on a Snack Bar: Okay, yes – many snack bars filling the “healthy food” shelves are often overloaded with artificial flavors and added sugars. Opt for a sugar-free version that also skips the stevia or the aspartame and look for ingredients like added fruit, oats and real nuts. A snack bar will not only appease those sugar cravings but also fill you up a tad to keep that hunger at bay.
- Dig into Dates: So you’re full but just want that sweet bite of luscious dessert – what do you eat then? Look no further than dates – they are rich enough to satisfy all cravings and sweet enough to stave off any further sugary cravings. Plus dates are very healthy, indeed, for they are a great source of antioxidants, fiber, potassium, iron and a number of equally awesome plant compounds.
- Just a Bite of Dark Chocolate: Craving that sinful, delightful and completely out-of-the-menu chocolate? Don’t starve yourself for you can also have one square of dark chocolate instead. While it may not taste as sweet, it will satisfy that craving and also give you that feel-good high because of the endorphins it contains! Plus, it’s a good source of antioxidants, too!
- Freeze some Fruity Pops: Summers bring with them a craving for ice cream. So instead of stuffing yourself with artificial milk and sugary pops, make your own fruity pops. All you have to do is pit, peel and puree your favorite fruit and then freeze it into pop molds. For creamier pops, fruits like mangoes, bananas, melons and even strawberries and berries work. For icy pops – think pineapples, citrus (you’ll have to juice them first), watermelon and even grapes!
- Sip a Hot Drink: Finally, when all else fails – make yourself a cuppa. A sugary “I want dessert” craving can be tackled with a hot cup of coffee, tea or even hot chocolate. While these drinks will come with calories, especially if you add chocolate sauce or sugar – the calorie intake will be far less and this hot cup will also stave off any sweet craving for long.
We hope you like these alternatives. And in case you have any dietary secrets, do share them with us in the comments section below. Healthy eating…
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