Consider yourself an expert snacker? For many of us, snacking is a habit that can never be broken—but this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, when approached with mindfulness, snacking can actually be a positive addition to your diet. The key to healthy snacking lies in making conscious choices and opting for nutritious snacks over unhealthy options. Snacking itself is not inherently bad, but the wrong snacks can pose challenges to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Cravings for sugar, salt, or junk food can often sabotage efforts to make healthier snacking choices. These cravings can be powerful obstacles, but it is possible to gradually shift your preferences and seek healthier alternatives. With a bit of intention and planning, you can train yourself to reach for more nutritious snacks, which will help you maintain a balanced diet and support your overall well-being.
How to Overcome Cravings
The urge to snack is generally fuelled by powerful cravings. Thankfully, there are strategies you can take to minimise cravings or make your snacking habits more manageable. In the long-term, it is beneficial to make sure you get enough sleep and exercise, as these habits help to lower the hormone that stimulates appetite. It can also be helpful to keep the kinds of foods you crave out of your house so that they are not easily and consistently available to you. As an immediate solution, we suggest distracting yourself by going for a walk or talking to a friend; most cravings last only 20 minutes. You can also try to eat a smaller portion of the thing you crave, eating something healthy first to fill you up a bit more, or substituting the food for a similar but healthier option. Alternatively, you can try chewing sugarless gum or brushing your teeth; these acts can help you overcome your cravings for sweet or salty snacks. Vaping can have a similar effect, as there are many calorie-free e-juices that simulate the flavours we love. From desserts to soft drinks, Vapora’s range of e-juice flavours take inspiration from all the most craveable foods and drinks.
What Do Your Cravings Mean?
Another great way to overcome cravings is to understand what they mean. Often, when we crave a particular food, our body actually needs a specific vitamin or mineral, if not a certain ingredient from within that food. This knowledge gives you the ability to replace the foods you crave with healthier options that will still satisfy your cravings.
From a young age, we’re taught that sweets such as cake are rewards or ways to celebrate special occasions. As a result of this association, we come to view sweets as something that gives us comfort and joy. We, therefore, tend to gravitate towards these foods when we need soothing or reassuring. When we’re sad, sugar can help us to feel better, although only temporarily. If you tend to reach for these foods for comfort, we suggest finding a new goal or hobby that can trigger those ‘feel-good’ feelings for you. Painting, gardening, or playing an instrument can become a new source of happiness and comfort in your life. In the short term, you can also try healthier recipes for baked goods or have some of your favourite fruits.
When we crave carbs, we are usually looking for a quick mood or energy boost. Carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel for our cells and they also stimulate the release of serotonin. If you’re constantly craving carbs, the trick is to find healthier alternatives to your go-tos. Go for whole-grains, fruits and vegetables rather than refined carbs like sugary snacks and processed foods. If you’re missing the texture of your favourite pasta, you can also experiment with things like cauliflower gnocchi and spaghetti squash.
Salty & Crunchy
Cravings for salty, crunchy foods such as chips or pretzels can be an indication of stress, anger, frustration or resentment. The act of crunching down with your jaw can actually feel lethargic, like a release of pent-up emotion. Choosing foods like carrots, celery, apples, air-popped popcorn or kale chips can be a good way of satisfying this need for release without turning to unhealthy foods. You can also try exercising, venting to a friend, or even addressing the things in your life that might be causing you stress or anger. On the other hand, if it’s simply salt you’re craving, try having some pistachios.
Curb Those Cravings Today!
Snacking doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure. Rather than over-indulging in foods that don’t make you feel good, you can start fixing your cravings in healthy ways. By understanding the importance of making mindful choices and opting for nutritious snacks, we can turn snacking into a positive addition to our diet. So, go ahead and curb those sneaky cravings, and embrace healthier snacking habits today!