Why does the stuff that hurts your body taste so good!? Why do you crave the unhealthy villains instead of the foods that will build you up and solidify your weight loss goals? The good news is that there are many tricks to get what you want without sacrificing your health. In fact, these hacks will turn your boring diet into a nutritional powerhouse.
Solving unhealthy cravings with healthy alternatives
Too much sugar kills you. You've read and heard how bad it is. Did you know that sugar cravings are your body's way of keeping you healthy? Let me explain...
In a natural environment where processed foods do not exist, sugar cravings made us eat fruit and vegetables. Without these sugar cravings, we would not get a lot of the essential vitamins and minerals that only eating fresh foods can give us.
Using sugar cravings to get healthier
Don't satisfy your cravings with sweets and drinks that are artificial. This reinforces the reward response that is responsible for making more sugar cravings in the future. Dopamine, the happy hormone, is released when you eat sugar. This was meant to reward you for eating fruit and vegetables.
Healthy sugar alternatives
- Dates are full of sugar, but they also have a range of nutrients that your body needs. They contain dietary fiber, B vitamins (pyridoxine, niacin, pantothenic acid and riboflavin), vitamin A, vitamin K, tannin's (flavonoids and antioxidants), copper, magnesium, manganese, iron, and potassium. See how these minerals benefit your health here and here.
- Other super foods that are high in sugar include raspberries, blue berries, mulberries, strawberries, watermelon and cranberries. Keep these nearby to satisfy your sugar cravings. They are great sources of a whole spectrum of nutrients that your body needs.
- Honey is another great alternative to refined sugar. It does not spike your blood sugar as quickly as refined sugar, and has a few nutrients of its own. It is antiseptic, anti-fungal, antiviral and antibacterial all in one. This is why honey is often recommended for sore throats and is a common ingredient in many flu remedies.
Milk Shake Alternatives
Here are great alternatives for those milkshake cravings that your body will thank you for:
- Protein Shakes come in all shapes, sizes and variations. Some don't taste so good while others taste better than the real deal. Find one that is high in protein, vitamins and minerals. Avoid the ones that have testosterone boosters and creatine. These will make great (and healthy) options for the whole family - and be way better than the junk food equivalent. Almost all variants are available in chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavors. Delicious flavors I've come across are cookies, cookies and cream, triple chocolate, birthday cake, cranberry, toffee, caramel, berry, mixed fruit and mint chocolate. Low sugar protein shakes are super healthy alternatives, instead of giving your children too much sugar.
- Homemade smoothies are another great, tasty treat. Simply mix your favorite combination of milk, yogurt, honey, fruit (banana or strawberry perhaps?), peanut butter, coco powder or whey powder in a blender and enjoy
Ice Cream Alternatives
All of the above can be frozen for healthy ice cream alternatives! Use low-fat cream instead of milk or whip the above into a thicker mixture before freezing for best results. Another great alternative is:
- Frozen fruit juice is a great alternative to ice lollies. Simply get yourself an ice cream mold from a baking store and pop the juice in the freezer. You lose the artificial flavors and colorants, and get nutrients along with your sugar rush!
Salty Snack Alternative Tips
If snacks are your weakness, try the following tips:
- Himalayan salt has a similar sodium content to regular salt (slightly less), but has trace amounts of other minerals that are good for you. This might not make that much of a difference, but a little goes a long way over time!
- Chilli pepper is a great way to add flavor to a boring meal, especially if you are trying to avoid salt.
Salty Snack Alternatives
- Nuts carry nutrients, essential fatty acids, protein and other nutrients that your body probably does not get enough of. Keep these handy for the times your mouth needs to chew.
- Popcorn is a low calorie alternative for the times that you end up consuming more calories out of boredom. Bring on the series!
- Beef jerky is a salty snack that has few carbohydrates and a lot of protein.
Burgers! Make your own and save on health.
Ever heard that burgers should be healthy because they have a balance of carbohydrates (roll), protein (patty) and fiber (lettuce)? The issues with the fast food variations make this untrue. The white rolls are refined carbs which should be avoided. The patties have less actual meat to reduce costs, and the lettuce was probably frozen to reduce transport and expiry costs. Additionally, the oil that the patty is fried in might hurt your health more than any of the other ingredients. They are high in Trans fats - the fats we need to avoid. Make your own at home using the following tips to make them healthier:
- Make the patty from lean mince. The protein content will be higher and you will be eating something closer to actual meat.
- Fry the patty in coconut oil instead. Coconut oil is not nearly as bad as the oils fast food chains use.
- Swap white rolls for whole wheat rolls. This increases the quality of the carbohydrates you are eating. Seeds on or in these rolls are a bonus. Brown rolls are also okay, although not as good as the whole wheat ones.
You should still follow a calorie controlled diet and keep a good balance between carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These meals will help to satisfy your cravings with good food that has more than just unhealthy junk in them. Think of it as cheating and winning at the same time. STAY STRONG!