Even when you begin changing your eating habits for the better by incorporating cleaner foods and better practices, you can still fall victim to occasional carb cravings. Sometimes, we attribute these to a rough day at work or a stressful week of deadlines, but carb cravings can also come from physiological imbalances.
When you feel stress, cortisol (the stress hormone), skyrockets along with your blood sugar. To compensate, your body releases the fat storage hormone, insulin, to help bring your blood sugar back to balance. When that happens, the insulin tends to overcompensate, and your blood sugar dips lower than it should. Your body becomes confused, thinking it needs more energy – and a carb craving is born.
Now that you know this, you can take steps to outsmart your body when it comes to carb cravings. First, you can take steps to reduce your stress or learn healthy coping mechanisms for when it arises. Deep breathing is an excellent place to start. Next, you’ll need to change your eating habits to satisfy that carby craving without derailing your progress.
Here are a few of my favorite tricks to do this…
The Salty Swap. Next time you can’t shake your craving for a crunchy, salty snack like potato chips, go for something that gives you what you want in a healthy way. For example, carrot and celery sticks with a side of hummus will fill you up and fuel you for the rest of your day. You can also air-pop popcorn or roast chickpeas, sprinkling each with a little sea salt to fulfill your salty desires.
The Sugary Sweet Swap. Sweet tooth at it again? Next time you’re longing for a dessert, trick your brain with something naturally sweet that isn’t full of refined sugars and processed junk. A square of 70% dark chocolate pure is a satisfyingly indulgent choice that won’t derail your habits. I find it even more satisfying when I let it just slowly melt in my mouth. You could also have a banana “shake” made with frozen bananas, almond milk, a dash of cinnamon and a few drops of vanilla extract for a treat will satisfy your sweet tooth, guilt-free.
The Pasta and Bread Swap. And of course, there’s the staple items you’ve always eaten with every meal because that’s what you’re used to. Rice, pasta, bread, and even cereal are all high-carb foods that will derail your efforts if you eat them too often. Luckily, there are swaps you can make that will fill you up while still satisfying. Cauliflower is a great substitute ingredient to make pizza crust, breadsticks, mashed “potatoes” – I like adding sauteed onion and garlic to steamed cauliflower before blending. Using a spiralizer (or purchasing pre-spiralized options) will help you make noodles out of vegetables that taste amazing too.
Now that you’ve gotten some ideas on how to tackle those carb cravings — arm yourself with these ingredients in your kitchen at all times, and begin to practice so that these swaps become second nature.
When well-prepared, you can overcome those pesky carb cravings for your benefit, and win in the process!