Melissa Lanz is currently getting bossy about dinner. As the author and Founder of The Fresh 20, Melissa understands that the path to health and happiness runs through the kitchen. Her healthful meal plans have helped over 150,000 families get wholesome food on the table.
Why Do I Crave Sugar?
We often think our body is asking for sugar. However, the body is really tricky. What it is actually asking for is nutrients, but it is sending signals to our mind saying it wants a quick fix.
So what are some good alternatives? Choose foods that are nutrient-rich (like half an avocado), or fiber-rich, something that is a healthy non-sugar alternative. When your mouth receives the treat it tells the brain “I’ve got you covered” without any added sugar.
Guide to Snacks
The concept of eating small, frequent meals and snacks can be helpful for various reasons. However, this advice has been complicated by significant marketing of snack foods to replace whole, nutritious foods. Instead of reaching for easy packages which often leave us unsatisfied and lead to greater fatigue, try to take a new approach to snacking.
The first step to successful snacking is planning. Here are some tips and strategies to help create a snacking strategy.
1. Drink a glass of water or herbal tea before eating your snack.
Thirst is often confused with hunger. Being dehydrated (even slightly dehydrated) can cause a decrease in energy levels which can make us crave energy-dense, low-nutrient snacks. Drinking a glass of water or unsweetened herbal tea prior to eating will give you a few moments to pause and think about your snack. Studies have shown that drinking water or unsweetened tea can actually contribute to weight loss by helping fill you up before eating.
2. View snacks as another opportunity to incorporate vegetables and fruit.
This is the simplest and most effective strategy to improve snacking. We are conditioned to relate snacking to “snack foods” so rather than reaching for a sweet potato, fruit, or a cup of vegetable soup, we look to packages to satisfy our snacking needs. Try to keep only one “healthier” snack cracker or air popped popcorn kernels in your house at a time. When thinking about snacks, first reach for a piece of fruit or a vegetable (cooked, raw, all vegetable soup, or salad). Then, if you need more substance, pair it with another whole-food source of protein or fat.
3. Pair with lean protein or healthy fat.
The anatomy of your snack will change depending on the purpose of your snack. Start with a base of vegetables or fruit, always.
Then ask yourself a few simple questions:
- How hungry am I?
- When is my next meal?
- What do I need to accomplish between now and my next meal?
If your next meal is an hour away and you are just looking for a quick refresh, the fruit or vegetable alone is probably enough. However, if you are looking for a long-haul option or a snack to fuel exercise, pair your fruit and vegetable with a healthy protein or fat. For example:
- Boiled egg + fruit
- Nut butter + fruit
- Hummus or guacamole + vegetable sticks
- Cup of roasted vegetables + tahini
4. Make your own.
Muffins, chips, granola/energy bars, candy, salted or sweetened nuts, and sweetened yogurts are among the most widely consumed snacks. Instead of giving up foods, try to make a healthier version at home. Often, over time you find that the store-bought versions are too sweet or salty and the homemade versions taste better.
Replace candy with almond butter, cacao or dark chocolate covered strawberries. And replace store-bought muffins with this no-sugar recipe!
No-Sugar Carrot Cake Muffins
These carrot cake muffins are moist, dense, and cure your sugar cravings--without sugar. Makes 8 regular muffins or 16 mini-muffins.
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon optional
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg optional
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 banana mashed
- 1/2 cup mashed roasted sweet potato
- 1 egg
- 2 carrots grated
- 2 teaspoons vanilla optional
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1/4 cup pepitas chopped
- 1/4 cup raisins
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease muffin pan.
- Mix all ingredients together, allow to sit for a few minutes to thicken before scooping into pan.
Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.