Whether you’re giving up sugar, animal products, carbs, or caffeine, any dietary change is going to be hard. It’s especially difficult when you love the food or substance you’re giving up — and it’s hard not to love high-fat, high-sugar, high-calorie, carbohydrate-rich foods, if you’re a human being.
Food cravings may be normal, but they don’t have to be insurmountable. Sure, making a positive change to your diet requires some discipline and willpower. But there’s a lot you can do to tip the balance in favor of making healthier choices every day. Eating balanced meals and having healthy snacks on hand is a big part of successfully beating cravings. And if you do slip up and eat some of the forbidden food, don’t throw in the towel — you can decide to cheat now and then, without throwing away all the good you’ve done for days, weeks, or months of resisting your cravings.
Managing food cravings is never easy, but with healthy vegan snacks at hand and a balanced, nutritious diet, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
Eat Balanced Meals
One big reason cravings happen is a lack of proper nutrients. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are known to cause cravings, including cravings for sweets. If you’re not getting enough calories from your diet, you’ll be more likely to have cravings for your favorite foods, especially high-calorie ones. Make sure you eat a proper diet of whole grains, lean protein, fruits, and vegetables. Add a multivitamin if you’re not sure whether vitamin or mineral deficiency may be contributing to some of your cravings.
Manage Your Appetite
The hungrier you are, the more your thoughts will turn to food, and when you get extremely hungry, cravings become harder to resist. Stop yourself from getting too hungry by eating regular healthy snacks. Whole fruits and nuts make healthy snacks, but if you’re feeling really close to breaking down and eating something you’ve sworn off of, you can substitute with an alternative snack that’s similar, but healthier.
The key to pulling this off is that your healthier substitute snack needs to hit the same notes as the snack you want. If you’re craving pork rinds, for example, try a bag of vegan crisps to satisfy your craving for crunchy, salty, and savory. Replace that bar of regular high-sugar chocolate with stevia-sweetened dark chocolate — it’s not as healthy as no chocolate, but it’s a lot less sugar — and about half the calories — of regular chocolate, and you’ll feel satisfied by it.
Reach for the Protein
Dips in blood sugar are often the culprit, especially when cravings hit predictably at certain times of day. Adding more protein to your diet may help even out your blood sugar levels throughout the day and mitigate your cravings. In one study of adult men, eating a diet that consisted of 25 percent protein reduced cravings by 60 percent, and nighttime snacking by 50 percent. A study of adolescent girls also found that increasing protein intake had a similar effect.
Experts recommend adding more protein to your breakfast, to control cravings throughout the day. But if you have a craving, reaching for a protein-rich snack can help sate it — and keep it from coming back for the rest of the day.
You’ve probably heard the advice to drink a glass of water if you get a food craving, because many people mistake thirst for hunger. Even if your thirst alarm is wired correctly, drinking that glass of water might be sufficient to distract you from the craving. Exercise is another good way to distract yourself from food cravings — if you’re prone to emotional eating, exercise can help you work through the stress or other feelings that are pushing you to binge on unhealthy snacks. Otherwise, try to do something to distance yourself from the cravings — take a shower, go for a walk, or chew some gum.
Eating balanced meals and having healthy snacks on hand is a big part of successfully beating cravings.
Managing food cravings is never easy, but with healthy snacks at hand and a balanced, nutritious diet, you’ll be setting yourself up for success. Try not to think of giving up a favorite, but unhealthy, food as never being able to have it again. Instead, face each craving as the choice it is in the moment. You may not make the same choice the next time, but each time you successfully resist your craving, it’s still a win.
What are your favorite healthy vegan snacks?
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