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Monday, August 15, 2022

10 Healthy Foods to Eat When Cravings Strike

 10 Healthy Foods to Eat When Cravings Strike

Many people get the urge to eat unhealthy foods, especially when they’re on a diet.

In fact, it’s thought that around 50% of people regularly experience food cravings, which can derail their attempts to eat healthy (1Trusted Source).

However, some healthy foods feel quite indulgent. This article details 18 healthy foods that can satisfy your urge to eat without sabotaging your diet (2Trusted Source).

1. Fresh Fruit

Fruit is naturally very sweet and a great choice when you get a sugar craving.

In addition to tasting great, fruit is an extremely nutritious snack. It provides prebiotic fiber, antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds, all in very few calories (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).

Furthermore, eating fruit has been linked to better health and a lower risk of diseases like heart disease and obesity (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).

One 2015 review found that eating 300 grams (or 4 servings) of fruit per day reduced the risk of heart disease by 16% (7Trusted Source).

To make your fruit feel more like a treat, try dipping it in a little dark chocolate or making a mixed fruit bowl.

2. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt tastes creamy and indulgent, but it’s also really healthy.

It’s higher in protein and lower in sugar than regular yogurt, and it’s a good source of calcium, B vitamins and beneficial bacteria.

This combination of nutrients makes it a great food for both your bone and digestive health (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).

Moreover, topping your Greek yogurt with fruit may provide additional health benefits and nutrients 

3. A Hot Drink

If you’re trying to watch your calorie intake, try making yourself a hot drink.

Drinking a hot coffee, tea or espresso after a meal can help you avoid the temptation of dessert.

It can also satisfy the need to do something, further helping you distance yourself from a craving.

Coffee can even increase the amount of a fullness hormone called peptide YY (11Trusted Source).

Peptide YY has an appetite-suppressing effect, which may help you reduce your calorie intake and lose weight (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).

4. Snack Bar

Although many snack bars are high-sugar junk foods, it’s possible to find or make healthy ones that can add lots of beneficial nutrients to your diet.

When choosing a snack bar, look for one that’s minimally processed and contains whole foods like fruit or oats.

Also, check the label to make sure it doesn’t contain any added sugars like table sugar, coconut sugar or sugar syrups.

If you’re confused by nutrition labels and aren’t sure which bars are suitable, you could try making your own snack bar, as in this recipe.

5. Dark Chocolate

If you are craving chocolate, you can try swapping your regular milk chocolate for a small amount of dark chocolate.

Dark chocolate that is made with at least 70% cocoa is not only delicious, but it also contains a high amount of antioxidants.

Additionally, including dark chocolate in your diet may reduce your risk of heart disease (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).

However, you’ll still need to watch your portion size. While small amounts have been linked to health benefits, larger amounts will add a lot of sugar to your diet and may not have the same protective effects (16Trusted Source).

Stick to a small square or two to satisfy your craving.

6. Fruit and Nut Butter

Fruit dipped in nut butter is a delicious snack that’s popular among health conscious people.

Eating a small amount of nut butter with fruit can be the perfect way to satisfy a craving for a sweet and crunchy treat.

This snack provides all the vitamins, minerals and fiber found in fruit, as well as the healthy fats, proteins and beneficial plant compounds found in nuts (5Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).

However, on its own, nut butter can be very easy to overeat.

To make sure your snack is as healthy as possible, watch your portion size and choose a nut butter that contains only nuts (and perhaps a bit of salt).

7. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a mild-flavored cheese product that’s low in calories but very nutritious.

Despite containing only 163 calories per cup, it consists of about 70% protein and contains good amounts of calcium, vitamin B12 and riboflavin (B2) (18).

The high protein and low calorie content of cottage cheese can make it a really good snack choice, especially if you are trying to lose weight.

This is because high intakes of protein from dairy foods like cottage cheese have been shown to help people feel fuller longer, which could help you eat less and lose weight (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source).

8. Banana Ice Cream

If you’re craving sweet and creamy ice cream, you could try making yourself this healthy alternative.

Banana ice cream is made by blending ripe bananas in a food processor and freezing them for at least an hour.

This snack is not only creamy and full of flavor, it’s also much lower in calories and higher in fiber than regular ice cream (22, 23).

If you want to make this treat more interesting, you can add other ingredients like milk, fruit or spices to mix up the flavor.

9. Popcorn

Popcorn can be a great snack to satisfy your salt craving without blowing your calorie budget, especially if you’re prone to snacking on chips.

However, the preparation method, serving size and topping choice are key when choosing a healthy popcorn to snack on.

A 3-cup (about 30-gram) serving of plain popcorn contains just over 100 calories, but eating large servings that have been sweetened with sugar or caramel can mean the calories add up (24, 25).

Additionally, homemade, air-popped popcorn is much lower in calories than popcorn that has been popped in hot oil. Avoid pre-packaged microwave varieties, which are full of unhealthy ingredients and calories.

You can keep your popcorn snack healthy by choosing air-popped, plain or slightly salted popcorn and watching your serving size.

10. Vegetable Chips

Vegetable chips are another choice for those who are prone to craving potato chips.

They are made like potato chips, but they’re made from vegetables like seaweed, kale or parsnips instead of potatoes.

However, some commercial brands of these chips can be as high in calories, salt and fat as regular potato chips.

To be sure you’re eating a low-calorie and healthy snack when you choose vegetable chips, try making your own at home by following this recipe

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