It’s hard not to love cookies. You can have them sweet and crunchy or warm and gooey, but either way, they’re always completely delicious.
Unfortunately, cookies aren’t the world’s most nutritious food. They’re a great occasional treat, but they can’t be a staple. These desserts have tons of sugar and fat, both of which can lead to obesity, a condition linked with higher risks of cardiac issues and cancer.
We know consuming too much sugar is unhealthy, but it’s hard to resist a sweet tooth. Luckily, there are plenty of healthy junk food alternatives that are sure to satisfy your cravings.
Why you’re craving sugar
If you feel like you constantly have your hand stuck in the cookie jar, there are reasons for that. Sadly, cookies aren’t calling your name, but other things like sleep and a nutritious meal just might be.
Eating healthy should not be restrictive. In fact, consuming too few calories can bring on cravings and lead to overeating. A small study of 58 adults found that eating a calorie-restrictive diet increased hunger and cravings, and the researchers hypothesize it may have to do with hormones. When you are eating a low-calorie diet, your body produces more cortisol, the stress hormone associated with increased hunger and body fat storage in women.
Sugar is addictive
Sugar is like a drug. In fact, it can be as addictive as cocaine. When we eat sugar, it triggers a dopamine release in the brain, which “rewards” you by making you feel good. As you continue to eat sugar, your body needs more and more to feel the same effects of this dopamine release. If you are struggling with sugar addiction, consider speaking with your physician or a therapist. They can help you break the habit in a safe and healthy way.
Your body needs something else
Sometimes, we think we’re craving one thing, but our bodies are really begging for something else. Other than hunger, experts say cravings may signal the body’s dehydration and fatigue. If you think you’re craving cookies, check in with yourself. Are you thirsty? Try a cold glass of water. Tired? Try a nap or see if you can get to bed earlier. Listen to your body’s needs, fuel yourself with all the necessary nutrients, get some much-needed rest, and consider turning to cookies as a last resort.
Healthy alternatives to cookies
If you’re craving cookies, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, reach for one of these healthy junk food alternatives.
- Fruit: Fruits, like apples, berries, and oranges, are like candy from Mother Nature. Unlike cookies, the sugar in fruit is natural, not added. These snacks also contain fiber, which is very filling and makes you less likely to turn to unhealthy snacks a few minutes later.
- Dark Chocolate: Desserts aren’t forbidden. If you have your heart set on a treat, opt for dark chocolate. It contains antioxidants like heart-healthy polyphenols as well as flavanols, which may improve blood flow. Be aware that dark chocolate is high in fat and calories, so it’s best to stick to the serving size.
- Peanut Butter: This sweet, sticky food can help keep diabetes and heart disease at bay. It also contains protein, which promotes the development of muscle mass, keeping you strong.
- Greek Yogurt Smoothie: Mix low-sugar Greek yogurt with skim milk and whatever fruits you have on hand. The Greek yogurt boasts protein, while the fruit provides much-needed fiber and vitamins. In no time, you’ll feel, stronger, healthier, and fuller for longer.
Sugar cravings are common, and there are several reasons for them. You may not be consuming enough calories and sometimes you’re just thirsty or tired. Turning to junk food like cookies and candy isn’t going to solve these issues, so be sure to eat balanced meals, drink eight glasses of water per day, and get a good night’s sleep. Sweets aren’t entirely off the menu however; just be sure to consume in moderation and don’t use sugar as a replacement for what your body needs. With these few snacks in your pantry, you can enjoy the energy boost without the dreaded sugar crash.
BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.
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