When transitioning to a healthier diet, finding satiating snacks to replace the treats you’d usually indulge in between meals can be difficult.
For many of us, it’s especially hard in the first few weeks, when the brain is constantly screaming “eat all the chocolate!” or when we’re weighing up whether to go to the gym or eat a massive pile of hot chips (first world problems right?).
But, if you can tame the inner dialogue and hang in there, we know from experience the body slowly gets used to options that are better for you and starts to prefer, even crave, healthier foods (no, this is not a joke).
Cutting out junk food isn’t easy and will take time: experts say
Dietitian Keri Glassman told Women’s Health Magazine: “while your body can’t be trained to eat healthy or not, based on just a few days of eating, your body can adjust, over time, to become more efficient at processing the nutrients you give it day in and day out.”
“Think of it like working out. The more you perform a certain exercise, the easier it gets,” she said.
This is based on the idea that your body will crave fewer naughty treats, if you have a nutrient-rich diet.
Scientist Doctor Susan Roberts conducted a six-month study in the United States which tested this theory.
MRI’s showed people who followed a healthy eating plan started to respond more positively to healthy foods and were less tempted by chocolate, chips and sugary drinks.
“Participants were actually teaching their brains to respond more favorably to food that did their bodies good,” Dr Roberts said.
“It’s about getting people to eat good-tasting foods that digest more slowly to weaken the link between certain food tastes and the hyper-activation of the addiction centers.
“Snacks that reinforce how good healthy food can taste are also crucial so you don’t
end up overdoing it later.”
Replacing processed treats with nutritious, filling snacks
To get you started, here’s some of our suggestions:
Yoghurt bowls. You’ve heard of acai bowls? Of course, they’re everywhere! This is similar, except the base is yoghurt. Choose a natural pot-set kind and top it with ingredients like shredded coconut, pepita seeds, LSA (ground linseed, sunflower and almond mix) and cacao nibs. Add some fruit and drizzle on rice malt syrup and then, bam! A filling bowl of goodness
- Raw desserts. These are super satiating and so yummy, you’ll probably panic that they’re not actually sugar-free. I Quit Sugar has plenty of recipes. Try the raw chocolate and raspberry cheesecake (you’re welcome)
- Popcorn. Time to get old school and pop your own. We recommend using rice bran oil. Feel free to add some butter. Eating good fats will help you feel full
- Brown rice crackers. Pick a plain flavour that’s made only from brown rice (a little salt is OK). Other whole grains are fine too (we’re thinking spelt), just watch the additives.
How do I manage cravings in the early days?
We’re not going to lie, it’s going to be hard but here’s some advice on how to stay on course:
- Food cravings explained: nutritionist Aloysa Hourigan and dietitian Susie Burrell
- Six ways to beat cravings: Women’s Health and Fitness Magzine
- Get rid of junk food cravings for good: Kayla Itsines
The key thing to remember is not to be too hard on yourself. A healthy relationship with food is important and part of that is allowing yourself to indulge once in a while.