Let me introduce a new series of posts called FOOD FAQS where I’ll always cover a small topic concerning food and where I’ll include my tips, my approach or just general thoughts.
Today, on the topic of snacking and cravings
Everybody loves a good snack, right? But at the same time, I think, it is one of the aspects that can easily get out of hand and even though all your main meals are perfect, your snacking can stand in between you and your progress.
Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t snack. Hell na! I personally love snacking, and the afternoon sweet dessert is one of my favourite meals of the day. I just want to share a few tips on how to snack without screwing yourself over.
If you’re actually really hungry…
From my experience, when you are actually hungry and have a snack instead because it is ‘too early for dinner’ then your snack is way too big or you have a snack after snack after snack and then eat dinner which adds up way more calories than you originally intended or needed.
My advice would be to have dinner first and then have a dessert afterwards.
I know, I know, this advice is older than time, but it still happens to the best of us.
You know the scenario. You’re out and about, busy running errands, forget to drink water and before you know it, you’re buying a snack bar. We often confuse thirst with hunger and you can prevent this by staying hydrated. Boring AF but so so true.
No Mindless Snacking
Honestly, this is one of the key points for me! Mindless snacking is absolutely evil because you’re actually eating without even enjoying it. And by that, I don’t only mean eating crisps in front of the TV. But grabbing one biscuit from the pantry when putting the dishes away, having ‘a small’ teaspoon of peanut butter while waiting for the kettle and so on.
My advice would be, if you’re having a snack, make it look and feel like a proper meal, cut some apple slices and put peanut butter on them or have a yoghurt with berries and granola in a bowl. Savour it.
Out of Sight Out of Mind
I’m gonna tell you a secret, all this mindless snacking often happens not because of your weak willpower but because your body is very responsive to visual impulses. Meaning, you open a cupboard with an intention to get a teabag for your tea, there is an opened pack of cookies, you see it, and before you know it, you’re eating one. So, my advice is, be conscious of this and don’t make it harder for yourself by exposing yourself to these temptations all the time and put them somewhere where you won’t see them 10 times a day.
I’m just bored snacking options
Even though eating just because you are bored is generally thought to be avoided, we all know it happens. But even if you do that, I just want to point out that there are some good options. One of my favourites are berries because you can have a big bowl of raspberries and blueberries and it does not add up to that many calories or carbs. A good comparison is nuts because they are both options that you’re driven to if you just want something to munch on while working on your computer but 100g of blueberries is 57kcal (14C 0F 1P) while 100g of almonds is 586kcal (21C 50F 21P). Get it? Eat smart. 🙂 And believe me, it is not THAT hard to eat 100g of nuts. For me, anyway.
Another few of my favourites are greek yoghurt with nut butter, fruit and granola; Propercorn; toast or rice cakes with nut butter or avocado; smoothies and smoothie bowls.
Holy Grail for Sweet Tooth Night Cravings
Anyone who follows the beautiful SydneyYouTuber @sarahs_day will know the recipe for this healthy hot chocolate.
1-1.5tsp of raw cacao powder, 1tsp of coconut oil, cinnamon powder, 1tsp of sweetener ( I like using coconut sugar), hot water and a dash of nut milk.
This hot chocolate genuinely such a great hack! It’s all healthy ingredients, satisfies your craving, takes seconds to make, low in carbs and higher in fat. And because it is a hot drink, you are forced to take a longer time to drink it which means that by the time you have finished it, the healthy fats made you full as well! Genuinely, I cannot recommend this highly enough!
Portion control is key
Of course, I am not saying that you should avoid fats and eat foods that are lower in calories. NO. I’m just saying that in accordance to the food you choose, you should be very aware of your portion. Because I believe that you can really eat anything you want, but you have to be aware of the impact of those foods on your whole daily intake etc. That is why, even though you can basically eat whatever you want, when you are aware of the macros and calories, you can decide which foods are ‘worth it’ and which are not. This is a topic for a different conversation but for example, a classic blueberry muffin at Starbucks has 472kcal, almost 50g of carbs and over 20g of fat! With the knowledge that that’s the nutritional equivalent to a very substantial healthy lunch, I just know that that’s not worth it. So by ‘eating whatever you want’ I don’t mean eating pastries and junk food, but for example, not having a problem with fitting baked potatoes for dinner, or adding real honey to porridge or dark chocolate as my dessert.
For some people, it’s helpful to buy those single serving packages or for example, when I used to take snacks to the library because I knew that I will crave something sweet with my coffee, I would just pack a few squares of dark chocolate with me. Which satisfies your sweet tooth but also keeps everything balanced. 🙂
Beware of Trigger Foods
While I say that you can allow yourself to have treats that you really crave, it’s also important to be aware of which treats you can easily enjoy in moderation and feel satisfied after eating them and which foods you just cannot have a reasonable portion of. And that’s different for everyone, for someone, trigger food can be cake, ice cream or pizza while for someone it can be nut butter, tortillas or biscuits. The important thing is to be very self-aware of this and maybe consider not even buying the stuff that you know you just cannot portion control.
But the goal is to be under control around any food and learning how to eat smart.
For me, I definitely never buy any ‘healthy version’ of crisps (as the vegetable, sweet potato or lentil crisps) because I just know that I cannot stop eating them. And if I do, I will definitely buy a single serving pack. When I’m buying chocolate or ice cream I also know that I need to be very careful.
And of course, my number one advice on how to satisfy your cravings for unhealthy foods is finding healthy alternatives. And admit it or not, you can find healthy alternatives for anything now. From raw chocolate, raw vegan and sugar-free cakes, vegetable crisps, raw fruit and nut bars, to making healthy homemade versions of burgers, pizzas, fries or muffins and your favourite desserts.
And the best thing is that these are made from real whole food ingredients so, at the end of the day, they are actually tastier and fill you up more. And believe me, you will train and ‘retune’ your taste buds in a way that you will get to the stage when you will actually start craving these alternatives rather than the junk food version. Me? I would definitely choose an almond butter cup from Juice Warrior over a Krispy Creme doughnut in a heartbeat!
However, don’t be fooled into thinking that because these things are healthy, you can eat as much of them as you like. Same rules apply, portion control and be aware of the nutrients. 😉
Final Reality Check
Here I am, giving you advice on how to get your cravings under control giving an impression that I have it all together 100% of the time. Do I? Absolutely NO!
To be completely honest with you, sometimes I have weeks when I have no problem with treating myself here and there but I am completely satisfied with the food I’m eating. At other times, I come home from work at 2am and decide to have a teaspoon of every nut butter I have at home (and believe me, that is A LOT). Sometimes, I buy a chocolate bar and have it for a week and a half, sometimes, I just say Fuck it and have half of the bar, some cookies and half of a tub of ice cream.
But here’s a plot twist, it is actually fine! It’s just food, it’s not your enemy! I wish people would stop thinking that they need to be perfect all the time to make progress. Believe me, everybody fucks up once in a while. We ALL want to have pizza sometimes, we ALL want to treat ourselves to a burger or a cinnamon bun.
As they say, unless you stole it, you shouldn’t feel guilty about eating it. 🙂 We all need to treat ourselves sometimes. If you really want to have a pizza, DO IT! Don’t get a salad and be sad because all your friends got a pizza. I’m just saying, don’t eat pizza just because you’re too lazy to make yourself a salad. Remember, the key is to try to keep it balanced, pay attention to what treats actually satisfy you, which ones you cannot control yourself around, which ones are actually worth it and just help you to stay on track and which ones are absolutely not worth it and make you feel sick afterwards.
Remember, consistency beats perfection!
I hope that helped!