Food cravings can be hard to fight. It is also not easy to find the underlying cause, and the ultimate challenge is to come up with a convenient and proved method that can help you stop your cravings. Either if you are on a diet or just would like to change to a healthier lifestyle by keeping an eye on your daily sugar and salt intake, cravings are challenging milestones that can easily make you fall into that temptation. There are several types of cravings ranging from specific foods to the more usual symptoms: “just some” sweet after dinner, a salty-snack between meals, or sometimes even both. We are here to help you get closer to the solution by providing you with an ultimate list of foods that can help you stop your salt and sugar cravings. If you work in some of these addiction healers into your daily menu, you will surely get closer to the resolution that you are after. But, what is behind these cravings? Well, let ‘s see!
There are several theories for the causes of sugar craving, however, what is indisputable is that sugar is highly addictive, and can be found in most of those popular junk foods and fizzy drinks out there. If you have ever tried to cut back on your usual sugar intake, you have probably experienced that how difficult it can be to resist those cravings. One of the fundamental explanations behind sugar cravings is that it has a powerful impact on our brain and body. This comes from the fact, that food containing high levels of sugar makes our brain release extremely high levels of dopamine in the “reward center” of the brain. As this process is continuous, since we often eat these kinds of food in large amounts, the dopamine receptors start to down-regulate, meaning that their effect will be much lower next time. This means that we will not only be trying to reach that same dopamine level that we have had reached in the first instance, but we will probably never be able to achieve it – only by raising the amount of sugar intake. This is one of the number one causes for obesity, as we are not giving enough attention to our sugar addiction. On the other hand, obviously, there are more simple and positive scenarios, where – for example during a rigorous diet -, your body is only notifying you that your sugar and insulin level is too low. However, with the recent changes in our eating habit (the popularity of junk food), usually, this is not the case.
Surprisingly, the situation is the same with salt. Sodium, which is the main component in salt, also triggers the pleasure center of the brain, making it release high amounts of dopamine, that once again blunt our receptors, making our craving grow more and more. This not only changes our brain chemistry, but it also has dangerous effects on our system in the long run: recent studies have proved, that it does not only increase our thirst, but high sodium levels are also connected with dementia, cancer, and other serious health issues. In case you are exceeding your daily intake dosage (min. 1,500 mg. – max 2,500 mg. sodium/day) on the long run, you must face severe consequences. With salt, there are also other scenarios where your body is only notifying you of your low sodium level, which can be the result of a rigorous diet, dehydration, or simply by the fact that your daily sodium intake was low. Once again, with the rising popularity of junk food and fizzy drinks, usually this is a more unlikely situation, as these foods and drinks contain an enormously high level of both sodium and sugar.
What to do?
Well, we decided to put together a list of healthy alternatives that can help you overcome those cravings, simply by substituting that bottle of coke with a healthy drink, or that Doritos with some crunchy and healthy alternative, that will deliver a similar effect on your dopamine levels. The key aspect is to trigger similar results and still make your dopamine rise – obviously in a smaller dosage -, which can help you cut back on your intake in the long run, and stabilize your receptors and brain chemistry. These healthy solutions can help you avoid those severe consequences. However, you must be devoted and maintain your motivation. So, let’s see, what are the top choices when your sugar or salt cravings strike again:
5 Simple Snacks in No Time
As an alternative mid-day snack, sunflower seeds can help you regulate your salt and sugar carvings. While being full of nutritions, once again it is important to keep an eye on your snack portion. Get a 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds the next time your craving strikes and watch as the temptation withers.
Fresh Fruits + Frozen Yogurt (Plain)
Once you find yourself struck with that sugar craving again, where you cannot think of anything else than a big bowl of ice cream, why not go for a healthy remedy. Frozen plain yogurt contains considerably less fat, while it also provides you with high levels of protein. If you mix it up with fresh fruits, you will get a much better taste, and finally, healthy vitamins. Keep some of that yogurt in the fridge to be prepared to fight those cravings.
Again, a healthy alternative to cure your sugar cravings. While dark chocolate will quickly fill you up, it will also satisfy your sweet tooth in no time. Furthermore, as it contains high levels of antioxidants, you will also be snacking healthy. To choose the right kind of dark chocolate, keep an eye on the product’s composition, where the cocoa portion, should be at least 65%.
Pistachios can be a handy, healthy solution for a mid-day snack, which can help you cure your salt craving in no time. This natural and fun snack is full of antioxidants, which are health and useful for your body. Make sure not to go for the extra salty package, as it contains high levels of added sodium. Keep an eye on the portion also, and only take a handful (about 30 pieces) as a mid-day snack between meals. Pistachios can help you easily fight your salt craving.
In case you are after a crunchier solution that can also keep you filled for more time, pretzels are a way better alternative compared to salty chips out there. Make sure that you go for the whole-wheat version, which has lower levels of carbs and is more natural. These pretzels are packed with tons of fiber, so you won’t be finding yourself craving for a high-calorie food for a longer time. They can also prove to be a useful asset when fighting your sugar cravings.
7 Snacks that Need Some Preparations
Whole-Wheat Crackers with Olive Spread
This delicious and crunchy snack is not only low in fat but also provides you with a great solution against those salt cravings. The whole-wheat crackers will satisfy your crunchy cravings, while the olive will deliver a salty taste that can help you resist that rush for the vending machine. Prepare some of this healthy snack in advance, to make sure that you are stocked up with supplies that can help you fight your salt cravings.
Homemade, Healthy Granola Bar
As many candy bars, granola bars out there contain high levels of sugar, why not bake a healthy alternative at home. This does not have to mean, that it won’t be tasty, as there are tons of recipes out there introducing various tasty flavors, and mixing them with a huge load of crunchiness. Look for recipes online and give it a shot at home. There are also variations which do not even require any kind of baking. Therefore you can prepare them in no time. With homemade granola bars, you can be sure that all ingredients are at the right portion, keeping your anti-sugar-craving snack healthy.
Diced Watermelon and Crumbled Feta Cheese
If you like feta, you will love this delicious composition, where sweet meets salty in an extremely tasty way. Get 1 cup of diced watermelon and mix it with 1/4 cup crumbled feta. Add some balsamic vinegar for an even better taste. While watermelon is a great source of hydration and natural sugar, feta – keep an eye on the portion – will get your sodium levels higher, while giving your snack a special taste. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and add other healthy components, like sunflower seed for some crunchiness.
If you are after that sweetness once again, there is no better alternative than raw, organic honey. It is filled with vitamins, immune system supporters, while it treats tons of things from a sore throat to hangover. Eat a spoonful on its own, add it to tea, toast or plain yogurt. Honey can be a great alternative to help you fight your sugar craving, while it also provides you with several health benefits. You can also try looking for alternative healthy ways to introduce it to your lifestyle changing, healthy diet.
Tomato + Olive Oil + Feta
In case you are looking for a more ordinary experience, try a cup of tomatoes with an ounce of crumbled feta, and add some olive oil. This should deliver the saltiness that you are after in a healthy way while helping you resist your next bag of Doritos. Add a pinch of sea salt in case the feta does not deliver enough saltiness, but remember to watch those portions to keep your sodium level in balance. Once again, experimenting is always advisable to keep your meals fun and exciting. If you can think of anything that would help you heal your salt craving (only natural, healthy components), add something new, like onions or pearl onions.
The perfect after-dinner solution! Grab a bag of grapes and put it into the freezer. In case your sugar craving strikes, pop in a few and enjoy your healthy ice-cream alternative. This is the most simple and easiest solution that can get your sugar level higher while keeping it natural and healthy. As grapes are full of natural antioxidants, you will enjoy numerous health benefits in the long run, if you can successfully introduce as much fruit treats into the daily routine, as possible. Oh, and it is also a nice treat in summer, to cool you in a tasty way.
Cottage cheese can help you avoid those salty carbs, while it can help you reduce your cravings. Get some whole-wheat crackers and as a topping add cottage cheese. For extra flavor, you can add a pinch of sea salt but watch those sodium levels once again. Try mixing it with other vegetables like fresh tomatoes, or pepper for a more intense taste. Crisp breads are also great with cottage cheese, experiment and find the best taste that can help you resist your next salt carving
Devotion is Key
Once you decide to go for that healthier lifestyle, you have been dreaming of, or simply just would like to introduce some new alternatives which can help you fight your cravings, keep your motivation up and stick to your decision. Every once in while you may fall into temptation, but don’t give up as these alternatives can mean a huge difference to your health in the long run. Hopefully, this list will come in handy when you find yourself facing your next craving. Don’t be afraid to do some experimenting in the kitchen to avoid getting bored of these snacks. The most important thing is that you try to avoid processed and junk food, and keep an eye on those salt and sugar levels. It might be easier said than done, but by taking advantage of our few hints and alternative, you will be surely able to fight those cravings.