Ah, junk food cravings, the struggle is real! We all know that feeling when you’re trying to eat healthily, and suddenly the sight of a big bag of crisps or a tray of cookies throws all your willpower out the window.
Junk food is widely accessible, inexpensive, and loaded with ingredients that make you crave it. These factors make it very difficult for us to avoid reaching for our favourite salty or sweet snacks when cravings hit. But although it’s difficult, it’s not impossible!
What Should I Eat If I Crave Junk Food?
When you have a need for junk food that is bad for your weight or health, you have three options. First, you can go on and eat as much as you want without thinking about the consequences. The second option is to consume “not-so-healthy food” moderately and with awareness. Third, by having healthier snack options available, you can indulge your cravings without feeling bad.
Sometimes, having a different option is all you need to avoid junk food. That said, consider keeping some of the following healthy snack options on hand in your tote bag, desk drawer, or car’s glove compartment. This way, when a craving arises in the future, you’ll be more than prepared to resist it.
When chocolate cravings strike, consider replacing your typical milk chocolate with a small bite of some nutritious dark chocolate. Although milk chocolate and dark chocolate have the same basic ingredients—cocoa butter, sugar, and cocoa solids—the proportion of cocoa solids in each form of chocolate differs. Milk chocolate has 10% to 50% cocoa solids, compared to dark chocolate’s 50% to 90%. Added sugar and bad fats are more prevalent in chocolate bars with a lower percentage of cacao solids.
Cocoa solids are responsible for the majority of dark chocolate’s health benefits. Several studies have shown a connection between regular cocoa consumption and better heart health, increased insulin sensitivity, and enhanced cognitive function. Cocoa is packed with minerals like magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper, and manganese as well as flavonols, a powerful class of antioxidants. A daily dose of cocoa might just help you avoid the doctor!
So, to choose healthy dark chocolate, the cacao content is the first thing you’ll want to check. Chocolate with a cacao content of 70% or higher is generally recommended. It’s also important to consider the sugar content. The better, the lesser the sugar content. Last but not least, ensure sure the dark chocolate you purchase doesn’t contain any unhealthful additions like artificial flavours, colours, or preservatives.
Checking the ingredient list is the quickest way to determine whether the chocolate is a good choice or not. Cocoa or cacao should be one of the top three ingredients; the higher it appears on the list, the more of it is in there.
Cocoa or cacao, a natural sweetener and cocoa butter or coconut oil are the main ingredients of healthy dark chocolate. The ones that contain soy products, hydrogenated fats, milk solids, thickeners, humectants, and other unnecessary ingredients should be avoided because they are typically filled with synthetic ingredients that have no beneficial effects on health.
By offering a satisfying blend of saltiness and crunch, nuts can quell your need for other salty treats. Their nutritional profile is superior to that of crisps, pretzels, and crackers since they offer plant-based protein and fibre to aid in hunger control. Their fat content also makes you feel full, and their unsaturated fat is good for your heart.
To avoid consuming too much sodium, pick a mildly salted variety. Compared to other nuts, almonds and pistachios have a higher potassium content, which can lessen the effects of sodium and help to naturally control blood pressure.
When you need a sugar fix, avoid candy and go for chewy, sweet dried fruit instead. Even though raisins, dates, prunes, and apricots don’t have any additional sugar, their natural sugar content gives them a strong sweetness.
Additionally, they contain fibre to help you feel full and maintain stable blood sugar levels. Watch your portions when eating dried fruit, however, as it has a smaller serving size than fresh fruit due to water and volume loss during the drying process. You can eat dried fruit on its own or make a snack mix by combining it with whole-grain cereal, nuts, and seeds.
Fruit and Nut Butter
Fruit coated in nut butter is a delicacy that’s well-liked by health-conscious consumers. Eating a tiny bit of nut butter with fruit is the best method to satisfy a craving for a sweet and crispy treat. This snack provides all the vitamins, minerals, and fibre found in fruit, in addition to the beneficial fats, proteins, and plant-based substances found in nuts.
However, nut butter on its own can be easy to overeat. So, consider your portion sizes and select a nut butter that only contains nuts to make your snack as healthy as possible.
Hummus can be a healthy snack option when craving something creamy. You’re sure to find something to satisfy your taste buds with the wide variety of hummus flavours available these days.
For a creamy and crunchy treat in one bite, dip raw veggies and whole-grain crackers in hummus. Feeling the need for something sweet? Hummus now comes in dessert-inspired flavours like brownie batter, vanilla bean, and cookie dough. Serve these with apple slices, graham crackers, or fresh berries.
Chickpeas turn into the ideal food for a lover of crunchy snacks when they are spiced and roasted. In addition to the 5 grams of plant-based protein and fibre per serving, these crunchy snacks will keep you fuller longer than other options. If you want to make them yourself, there are only four simple steps to follow:
After rinsing and draining a can of chickpeas, give them a good pat with paper towels to dry.
Place your favourite dried herbs, spices, or seasoning blends in a light toss with olive oil, and then spread out in a single layer on a sizable baking sheet.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius, shaking the pan halfway through baking, until crisp and lightly browned.
Wait to cool off and enjoy. To maintain their texture and flavour, store them in a sealed container and consume them within a few days.