Do you have food cravings? The kind that are typically satisfied by some measure of decadence, whether that’s super starchy, fatty, or sweet foods? When trying to slim down, many focus their attention on curbing food cravings. I get it, and am 100 percent on board with harnessing your intake of all of the above, especially given the obesity crisis that confronts our nation. But let me spin this a little differently…
Surely you’ve craved something and, in an honest effort to avoid that nourishment nosedive, you decide to “eat around” the actual food that you ache for. Let’s say you desire a creamy, sweet and slightly-salty peanut butter cup, but want to avoid it at all costs. You might: (1) Start with something sweet like a piece of fruit; (2) Opt for an apple with peanut butter or a smoothie with peanut butter, when that doesn’t do the trick, and; (3) reach for a smidgen of dark chocolate after that because you are not yet satisfied.
Now you are in quite a conundrum. You “ate around” your craving, but still hunger for that decadence. So you eat it, even though it’s likely you have already consumed hundreds if not a thousand of calories! Now, was it worth it to eat around your craving?
My solution to stop food cravings is to actually eat the foods you crave, in moderation. Depriving a starchy, fatty, or sweet tooth all the time is a recipe for disaster! Admittedly I prefer that you aim to avoid those foods with my top-rated terminators and opt into the better-for-you alternative. When it comes to peanut butter cups, choose one from Justin’s or Newman’s as opposed to a Reese’s. My belief: Nothing is too sinful if the ingredients are truly thoughtful and are consumed in moderation.
While popular belief may be to outsmart your cravings altogether, I beg to differ. I prefer to introduce you to a better-for-you alternative or teach you how to turn nutritious into delicious and decadent (and to eat an overall healthy diet as your foundation). So let’s talk about how to curb cravings instead of stopping them…
- If starchy and fatty foods are your go-to, as in potatoes and pasta, try a sweet potato on for size. In fact, my Curried Sweet Potato Mash may just give you the comfort you need. See recipe below.
As for pasta, mix it up by cooking zucchini pasta (made with a spiralizer) or baking a spaghetti squash. Either choice will be a satisfying foundation when paired with a rich and fatty Alfredo or Bolognese.
- If you don’t want something so rich, make a modified pesto with basil, nuts, miso (instead of cheese), garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and salt. Surely any of the above will have you frolicking in the fat!
- If chocolate is your thing, how about making a silky smooth mousse using avocado instead of heavy cream and eggs? It takes less than five minutes to make.
- If you are into cakes, how about my moist carrot-sort that is a doppelganger for the real deal. Put a dab of cream cheese frosting on top and your palate will sing.
As a side note, don’t let your moment of decadence pass you by. Be conscious while you indulge. If preoccupied, you can’t truly savor what you’re eating—and that dissatisfaction will only lead to mindless snacking and, ultimately, overeating. Also, no guilt please! Food should excite and delight.
For those of you who dive into artificial sweeteners to curb your sweet craving, please lose them. They notably shift your palate so it can no longer tolerate “normal” sweetness. In the end you end up craving uber sweet foods that can only be satisfied with questionable chemicals.
Why do you crave foods? After reviewing many articles on this topic, sharing Why We Crave from the Weston A. Price Foundation was a must. In a nutshell, a diet lacking real nutrition, as well stress, fatigue, and illness can prompt a desire for unhealthy choices. But it’s not that straightforward. So work to rewire your food cravings by embracing the best quality of the food you desire, eating it in a reasonably-sized portion, and savoring its deliciousness mindfully.
Curried Sweet Potato Mash
By Stephanie Sacks
While I must say that I adore the white potato, the sweet boasts far better nutrition, especially when anti-inflammatory curry takes center stage. So try this mash, as it adds a splash of color and culinary creativity to the more pedestrian potato.
2 large sweet potatoes, skin on, large dice
2 cups water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
1⁄2 teaspoon curry powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1⁄2 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed, roughly chopped
1. In a small pot, combine the sweet potatoes and water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, until potatoes are soft, 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Using a strainer, drain the water from the potatoes, then return them to the pot (heat off or on simmer) and mash them with a potato masher or fork. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Store in the fridge for up to three days or freeze for up to three months. When reheating, add a little water to the pot.