Depriving a sweet tooth is a recipe for disaster. Don’t cut things out so you binge later as most of the time willpower isn’t the answer. Food cravings are fueled by feel-good brain chemicals such as dopamine, released when you eat these types of foods, which creates a rush of euphoria that your brain seeks over and over. What you need is a plan that stops this natural cycle—and helps prevent unwanted weight gain. Try swapping these calorific foods for our alternatives to curb your cravings and still feel satisfied!
If you’re craving:
Salty snacks like chips, olives and salted peanuts
Too much salt is definitely unhealthy, but our bodies do actually need salt. Among other things, it helps stabilise our electrolytes, lower stress and improve brain function. As a rule, try not to exceed more than a teaspoon a day – this includes all the hidden salt in packaged and processed foods.
Curb the craving: Ironically, salt cravings are often a tip-off that you’re dehydrated, so drink a big glass of water before reaching for the crisps. Repeated cravings could also be a sign you’re low in minerals such as calcium, magnesium and zinc, so consider a good multi-mineral supplement. Seeds and nuts are a great snack to include in your diet. Celery sticks topped with a teaspoon of peanut butter should also put those salt hankerings in their place.
Bread, pasta and potatoes
Complex carbohydrates like these are classic comfort foods that can actually make us feel calmer in stressful times and they are a key source of fuel for your body.
The problem is that many people eat white, refined-flour versions, which give our bodies a low-nutrition, high-calorie and blood-sugar-spiking intake – what dietitians refer to as empty calories.
Curb the craving: Always go for brown, wholewheat or soy and linseed options as these contain more vitamins and will make you feel fuller for longer. Swap your potatoes for sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes provide fewer calories, more fiber and fewer total carbs.
Carb-craving can signal a need for the feel-good amino acid. Chia and sesame seeds, turkey, chicken, fish, meat, soya, cheese, eggs and nuts are good alternative sources.
Chocolate and sugary goods
It’s OK to treat ourselves from time to time, but regular cravings for sugary foods such as chocolate could be the result of a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is a mineral that is vital for almost every function in your body, and in this case your body might be on to something: dark chocolate – think 70% cocoa upwards – is a good source.
Curb the craving: A couple of dark chocolate squares can provide you with 24% of your daily magnesium requirements, so treat yourself, guilt-free.
Alternatively, dark leafy greens, nuts and pumpkin seeds, fish, beans, avocado and bananas are all even richer sources of magnesium.
Try making a healthy green smoothie with banana, spinach, kale, lemon and ginger.