Eating a balanced diet is great for our bodies, but sometimes it can feel like such a struggle when the candy jar starts calling your name. You may be asking yourself, “Why do I crave sweet, crunchy foods? Why is this so difficult?”
Instead of beating yourself up for not being able to control your thoughts, find comfort in knowing why you’re hankering for certain foods. (And know that there are also healthy, sweet, crunchy snacks that can satisfy your cravings without leaving you feeling guilty.) Let’s dig into why you crave these foods and how to prevent (or at least mitigate) temptation.
There are several reasons why you crave certain items. Some are all in your head, and others may have to do with your diet.
Your brain is playing tricks on you
Sometimes, the need for chocolate or potato chips just pops into your head. However, this might be for an important reason. Quick biology lesson: Your brain’s hippocampus controls memory, pleasures, and reward. It’s what reminds you that you love potato chips or that you enjoy a midnight snack. Sometimes, you’re craving a sweet treat because you’re brain thinks of it as happy food.
Also, it’s important to understand that sugar is addicting. When you eat sugar, your body releases dopamine and opioids, both of which make you feel good, and your body is going to want more and more. The more sugar someone eats, the more likely it is that they are hardwiring their brains to crave it.
Eating well doesn’t mean placing unhealthy caloric restrictions on yourself. Generally, the daily recommended caloric intake for women is 2,000 calories. If you are eating less than that, then it may be a reason why you’re craving crunchy food mid-day or at midnight — your body needs a new source of energy. To kick these mid-day cravings, maintain a balanced diet that includes protein (which you’ll find in lean meats, tofu, and legumes) and fiber (found in many fruits, veggies, and beans). Depriving yourself of these essential nutrients can leave you feeling hungry, unsatisfied, and craving more food. Your physician can help you figure out the best nutrition plan for you — and yes, it can include the healthy, sweet, crunchy snacks you love.
The key to eating right and satisfying cravings is to find healthier alternatives. If you’re tempted to dig into something sugary, reach for these nutritious, sweet, crunchy snacks instead.
Fruits like apples are actually full of sugars. However, unlike a piece of candy, none of that sugar is added — it’s all naturally occurring, making it a filling snack between meals. Apples are also full of fiber to help you feel satiated longer, so you’re more likely to bypass the candy jar on your way out the door.
Homemade sweet potato chips
If you can’t decide between sweet and salty, consider homemade sweet potato chips — the best of both worlds. These easy-to-make snacks ensure you avoid the high levels of fat, sodium, and sugar that you’d find in regular chips or candy. Sweet potatoes possess good-for-your-gut fiber and may even help prevent cancer. Don’t go too crazy with salt, though. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, bloating, and heartburn, but a little sprinkle should be OK. The FDA recommends limiting salt intake to about one teaspoon per day. Don’t spend this all on your chips though, as you’re likely getting salt from other sources throughout the day.
Trail mixes often contain M&Ms and dried fruits, which possess a ton of added sugar. Opt for almonds with a little cocoa powder or dark chocolate instead. Almonds boast healthy fats that promote heart health and are full of fiber and protein that help you stay satisfied longer.
Peanut butter and celery
For many, celery is an acquired taste, and not everyone acquires it. But if you add a little peanut butter, you’ve got yourself the perfect sweet and salty treat. Celery is low on the glycemic index, so it doesn’t cause your blood sugar to spike. It also has potassium, which can help reduce blood pressure, and folate, which encourages the production of red and white blood cells.
If you’re constantly craving crunchy foods or a sweet treat, keep in mind that it’s very normal. Sugar is so addicting, and everyone gets in the mood for a sweet treat every now and then. One of the best ways to manage cravings is to find healthy snacks that still leave you feeling satisfied, so indulge in nuts, homemade chips, and naturally sugary fruits. If you’re concerned about your diet, weight, or cravings, speak with your physician who can help you develop an individualized diet plan.
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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