Believe it or not, there are people out there who crave things other than potato chips and pizza. They aren't a myth. Some people actually crave kale! There are some people who wake up in the morning just dying to have that smoothie. Food cravings are incredibly normal but when you want to start eating a healthy diet, it can be difficult to ignore those unhealthy options when you hear them start to call your name.
"Emerging science suggests that our cravings for food may actually be controlled by microbiome, or gut bacteria," Rima Kleiner, MS, RD explains. "Researchers...recently found that microbes in the gastrointestinal tract have the power to alter our moods, change our taste receptors and take control of nerve pathways between our stomach and brain."
These studies also found that we can influence our GI tract by eating healthy. If you respond to a craving for junk food by eating something healthy, you will eventually come to crave those healthy things.
If you are looking to kick the junk and crave the healthy, here are some suggestions:
1. Engage with other healthy eaters
Social media isn't just a good way to check out, it can also help you get in touch with other like minded people. "Hearing about another person's excitement for healthy food can be contagious," Lisa Hugh, RD told Bustle
. There have been studies that have found that receiving support from online communities can help you maintain your healthy eating habits.
2. Keep junk food out of the house
"It might feel like you don't have anything good to eat at first, but having all healthy foods at home will probably help you get creative in preparing healthier foods," suggests Hugh. "You will be more likely to eat when truly hungry — this helps reinforce that healthy food is satisfying and tasty." Ditch foods high in sugar, salt, and fat. They can be addictive and actually increase your cravings. Do yourself a favour and just get rid of them.
3. Learn about healthy foods and how other people are eating them
Get yourself motivated by looking at health focused blogs, websites, magazines, social media and cookbooks. "This can improve your cooking skills, give you fresh ideas, and help you to see that other people are enjoying healthy foods," says Hugh. "Finding what you like is a good habit. If you like it and know you can cook it, you'll be more likely to want to eat it, add it to your grocery list, and prepare it on a more regular basis." The BodyRock Meal Plan
comes with a detailed nutrition guide that can help you make sense of your food choices. With 30 days of sample menu planning, a nutrition guide and an added recipe book with over 70 options, we help you make sense of healthy eating!
4. Take a walk when unhealthy cravings strike
"Walking — or any kind of physical activity — helps to distract your brain from a craving and puts you farther away from the food that may be calling your name," says Kleiner. Not only will taking a walk help beat your craving, it can boost your energy! Added bonus!
5. Or indulge just a little
Giving in to your craving and having a very small amount may prevent you from overdoing it later on. "The trick is to eat a little and do not keep these foods at home or at your desk," suggests Kleiner. "Going to the bakery for a small cookie, ice cream shop for a small cone or store for a small candy makes it much more difficult to eat regularly than just opening your pantry or desk drawer."
6. Take advantage of snacks
"Meals and snacks that are high in simple carbohydrates may provide a quick energy burst but often leave us feeling hungry and craving more," says Kleiner. "Add foods rich in heart-healthy proteins to meals and snacks to prevent your blood sugar from crashing, which often leads to that 3 p.m. vending machine craving."
7. Find a substitute
The most significant thing about cravings is how you respond. "Craving something salty? Try hummus and vegetables, black olives or grilled salmon sprinkled with sea salt," says Kleiner. "Craving something sweet? Reach for a piece of fruit, sweet and sour shrimp, or a piece of dark chocolate. Choosing superfoods over less healthful options to satisfy your cravings will help to optimize your health, brain and gut."
Of course, in the end, what you choose to eat is entirely up to you. But if you are looking to make clean eating and healthy living a real part of your life, it is important to avoid the junk food pitfalls.
How do you deal with your food cravings?