Food cravings are complex and can stem from emotional or environmental cues, nutritional needs as well as changes in hormone levels. They can also be overwhelming and seemingly impossible to ignore, especially if these cravings are accompanied by fatigue or depression. In these moments even the best of intentions can be thwarted by the promised comfort of our favourite junk foods. Examining your cravings is a powerful first step towards developing an action plan that is both easy to maintain and still satisfying.
A plan of attack
When developing a strategy to combat your cravings it’s helpful to think about what it is you actual desire. Is it the taste? The texture? By identifying these characteristics it becomes easier to find food alternatives to better support your weight loss journey. Finally, treating yourself to a truly rich experience by indulging in high quality foods served in small portions is a wonderful way to create positive feelings rather than an association of guilt.
Potato chips, when only salt will do
There is no denying the appeal of potato chips. The instant hit of intense saltiness and the satisfying crunch that follows makes potato chips extremely pleasurable to eat. Unfortunately, potato chips are often high in fat, loaded with sodium and often heavily seasoned with MSG, a chemical that enhances the flavour of food. According to Health Canada, MSG can potentially cause migraines, blurred vision, nausea and chest pains in individuals sensitive to the ingredient. To combat these potential ill effects try snacking on some air-popped popcorn with sea salt. In the mood for something special? Lightly drizzling a bowl of popcorn with truffle oil and toss with a tablespoon of grated parmesan.
For many people chocolate is their biggest food craving, the term “chocoholic” exists for a reason! If truffles, candy bars and syrup drive you wild try pivoting your tastes slightly to lessen the impact of chocolate binge. Try to adopt a quality over quantity mentality. Experiment with the plethora of good quality chocolate that’s out there. Visit a chocolatier and pick out a couple of beautiful dark chocolate truffles and savour them without distraction. If milk chocolate is your preference try dipping fresh fruit in melted chocolate, allowing them to cool on parchment until the chocolate firms up. Try halved or whole strawberries, pineapple slices or even thin strips of candied citrus peel for an elegant end to a meal.
Candy and other sweets
Candy and other sweets are perhaps the most infamous of all food cravings, there is such a huge variety of options that practically everyone has a favourite. While the appeal of candy is universal the effects of added sugars are less than ideal. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, “large amounts of free sugars are often found in highly processed, high energy, high calorie foods. Excessive calorie consumption often occurs with these high-free-sugars foods, leading to weight gain.” When the cravings for candy hit, look to 0 SmartPoints food items such as frozen fruit for that same sense of satisfaction. An excellent example is Muscat grapes, which are essentially candy on their own whether fresh or frozen. Realistically, there are times when only authenticity will do so go ahead and indulge but make sure to limit yourself to a single serving. This way you’ll be sure to get the taste you crave without the temptation to eat a large amount.
We all scream for ice cream
Whether you prefer vanilla or chocolate or any of the other practically endless flavours of ice cream there is no denying the rich and creamy appeal of this frozen dessert. Ice cream is often portrayed in the media as a means to soothe and comfort, whenever there’s a crisis or breakup in movies and television shows the unlucky victim is often seen tucking into bed with a pint of ice cream. When the call for ice cream is sounding try heading out to your local ice cream or gelato shop for a single scoop of whatever flavour catches your eye. If you plan on eating ice cream at home why not try a still-decadent frozen yogurt topped with cut up fruit or an unsweetened fruit puree. Vanilla frozen yogurt topped with warm unsweetened applesauce and a dash of cinnamon makes a luxurious apple pie dessert that will leave you feeling happily sated.
Pop, everyone's favourite beverage
Whether it’s the jolt of energy from a caffeinated soda or the carbonation you crave, drinking pop can be a difficult habit to beat. By its very nature as a beverage, pop is often passively consumed and you hardly realize its impact on your appetite. Luckily, there are several strategies for confronting this particular craving, all of which provide flavour and carbonation in spades. If the taste of cola is what you’re searching for try combining 1 part of any type of pop with 2 parts seltzer water, this technique also works well with fruit juice. Alternately, try adding fresh herbs and fruit to seltzer water; rosemary and grapefruit slices, basil and strawberries or mint and melon balls are all tasty combinations to try.