Many people get the urge to eat unhealthy foods, especially when they're on a diet. Often times, cravings are our body’s way of alerting us to nutrient deficiencies, which are common among dieters.
However, some healthful foods feel quite indulgent. Here are 15 healthy foods that can help replenish much needed nutrients and satisfy your urge to eat without sabotaging your diet.
1. Fresh Fruit
Fruit is naturally very sweet and a great choice when you get a sugar craving. In addition to tasting great, fruit is an extremely nutritious snack. It provides prebiotic fiber, antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds, all in very few calories. Furthermore, eating fruit has been linked to better health and a lower risk of diseases like heart disease and obesity.
To make your fruit feel more like a treat, try dipping it in a little dark chocolate or making a mixed fruit bowl. If you are dealing with sugar control issues, stick with no more than 3 servings of fruit per day.
2. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt tastes creamy and indulgent, but it's also really healthy. It's higher in protein and lower in sugar than regular yogurt, and it's a good source of calcium, B vitamins and beneficial bacteria. Look for plain, organic yogurt sourced from grass fed cows to up the nutrient content and lower toxin exposure.
Moreover, topping your Greek yogurt with fruit, sprouted nuts and seeds or a dash of spirulina can provide additional health benefits and nutrients.
3. A Hot Drink
Drinking a hot coffee, tea or espresso after a meal can help you avoid the temptation of dessert. It can also satisfy the need to do something, further helping you distance yourself from a craving.
Coffee can even increase the amount of a fullness hormone called peptide YY. Peptide YY has an appetite-suppressing effect, which may help you reduce your calorie intake and lose weight. Watch the caffeine content in the evening and coffee should also be organically grown. My favorite after meal warm drink is fenugreek tea. It aids digestion, helps balance blood sugar and has a nice earthy taste.
4. Green Juice
Whether fresh or powdered, green juice can stop a craving in its tracks. It provides electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and hydration. This concentrated nutrition can help to increase energy, reduce the risk of illness, accelerate weight loss and help to detoxify and alkalize the body.
5. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate that is made with at least 70% cocoa is not only delicious, but it also contains a high amount of antioxidants. Additionally, including dark chocolate in your diet may reduce your risk of heart disease. However, you'll still need to watch your portion size. While small amounts have been linked to health benefits, larger amounts will add a lot of sugar to your diet and may not have the same protective effects. Stick to a small square or two to satisfy your craving.
6. Fruit and Nut Butter
Fruit dipped in nut butter is a delicious snack that's popular among health conscious people. Eating a small amount of nut butter with fruit can be the perfect way to satisfy a craving for a sweet and crunchy treat. This snack provides all the vitamins, minerals and fiber found in fruit, as well as the healthy fats, proteins and beneficial plant compounds found in nuts. However, on its own, nut butter can be very easy to overeat. To make sure your snack is as healthy as possible, watch your portion size and choose a nut butter that contains only nuts (and perhaps a bit of salt). My choice is sprouted almond or walnut butter atop an organic apple. Yum!
7. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is a mild-flavored cheese product that's low in calories but very nutritious. Despite containing only 163 calories per cup, it consists of about 70% protein and contains good amounts of calcium, vitamin B12 and riboflavin (B2). The high protein and low calorie content of cottage cheese can make it a really good snack choice, especially if you are trying to lose weight. Always look for organic cottage cheese to avoid toxins.
Popcorn can be a great snack to satisfy your salt craving without blowing your calorie budget, especially if you're prone to snacking on chips. Avoid pre packaged microwave varieties, which are full of unhealthy ingredients and calories. You can keep your popcorn snack healthy by choosing non-GMO popcorn, air-popped, sprinkled with sea salt and nutritional yeast (delicious), drizzled with a little melted butter form grass fed cows and watching your serve size.
9. Vegetable Chips
Vegetable chips are another choice for those who are prone to craving potato chips. They are made like potato chips, but they're made from vegetables like seaweed, kale or parsnips instead of potatoes. However, some commercial brands of these chips can be as high in calories, salt, chemicals and fat as regular potato chips.
To be sure you're eating a low-calorie and healthful snack when you choose vegetable chips, try making your own at home. Choose organic vegetables (slice thin if using sweet potatoes or parsnips), coat with coconut oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and bake till crispy.
If you're craving something to eat but need to watch your calorie intake, try snacking on some olives. They're low in calories and contain a wide range of beneficial plant compounds. Additionally, oleic acid, which is the main fat found in olives, has been linked to some health benefits, including reduced inflammation and improved heart health. I look for organic olives as to avoid preservatives and other chemicals.
11. Miso Soup
Miso soup can also be an excellent choice for dealing with salty cravings. Miso paste, its main ingredient, is made by fermenting soybeans with salt, grains and a type of fungus called koji. This Japanese broth is not only tasty and low in calories, it's a good source of fiber, protein, beneficial plant compounds and quite a few vitamins and minerals.
12. Trail Mix
Trail mix is a handy snack that's made up of dried fruit and nuts. The exact recipe can vary, but the combination of nuts and fruits can make it a great choice if you're craving something sweet and salty. Trail mix can also help you include some nuts and seeds in your diet, which contain a wide range of beneficial nutrients and have been linked to a number of health benefits, including improved blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes. Moreover, they may help reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering your levels of dangerous, small LDL cholesterol particles. However, watch your portion size. A cup of trail mix contains nearly 700 calories, so stick to a handful to avoid overeating. Also, make sure the nuts and seeds are sprouted and the fruit is organic.
13. Cold Drinks
If you're craving a sugary soda, it could just be that you're thirsty. Try opting for a more healthful alternative to quench your thirst and satisfy your need for something other than plain water. Start with clean, filtered water and add slices of citrus, cucumber or a few berries. Want to really wake up those taste buds? Try homemade kombucha. It is extremely healthful, delicious and easy to make.
If you're prone to sugar cravings, berries can quench your need for sugar, while adding some really beneficial nutrients to your diet. They are sweet, low in calories, high in fiber and a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Their high antioxidant content also means they have strong anti-inflammatory properties, which may play a role in protecting you from diseases like heart disease and cancer.
15. Hummus With Vegetables
If you're hungry and craving a savory snack, try vegetables dipped in hummus. Hummus is made with chickpeas, garlic and olive oil, all staples of the very healthy Mediterranean diet, which has been linked to better heart health. Eating this snack with vegetables can increase your vegetable intake and add valuable nutrients to your diet.
Food cravings can be tricky to deal with.
Fortunately, there are healthful snack options that can satisfy your cravings and serve as nutritious additions to your diet. Try planning ahead and having healthful snacks on hand to stop yourself from reaching for junk food.