While we often associate food cravings with unhealthy dietary choices, even those with the cleanest diet can suffer from those pesky sweet tooth cravings. Say what… cravings from eating “healthy?” Yep, it can totally happen — let us explain.
The Cause of Food Cravings
First, we have to uncover what’s at the root of food cravings to better understand why anyone can be victim to that midnight desire for something sweet.
First and foremost, cravings go beyond just eating habits — this is why those who eat clean can still struggle with cravings.
Why? Because it’s all about that mind-body approach to looking at wellness and getting to the root of why you may be craving that bag of chips or that bowl of ice cream at what seems to be the most random times.
Let’s take a closer look at what the research shows about why you may have cravings even if you eat healthy.
Why You May Have Cravings Even if You Eat Healthy
Research shows that cravings can happen due to these four common reasons.
Stress can really do a number on just about everything health-related, and it can certainly cause our cravings to spiral out of control. And, with the increased levels of stress around all of us right now, it’s more important than ever to practice self-care.
Stress may make us crave all those comfort foods, and research has shown that stress can lead to sweet food cravings. Plus, too much stress can cause a spike in the stress hormone cortisol, which has also been linked to weight gain and can increase our appetite.
The takeaway here is to make stress-reduction a priority by making sure you’re pressing play on your daily FitOn workout right from the comfort of your own home. Carve out some time for some meditation, and don’t forget to breathe! Deep breathing does wonders for helping us get out of that chronic state of fight-or-flight.
#2 Not Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep is essential for health — we simply cannot operate at our highest potential without getting enough Zs. If you’re slacking on sleep each night, you may be experiencing some pretty serious food cravings.
If you find yourself getting to bed way too late, start by making a small but attainable goal for yourself — start by getting to bed just 20-30 minutes earlier each night.
And, start by incorporating some sort of self-care into your evening routine like one of our FitOn before bed stretches or a quick yoga flow to help you wind down.
Once you get to bed 30 minutes earlier, work towards 45 minutes and then an hour. The ultimate goal is to get to bed early enough, so you’re getting that golden 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
#3 Not Eating Enough Protein
Studies show that protein is the most satiating macro, so not getting enough can leave us feeling hungry, even if we eat super clean. This can lead to food cravings if we just aren’t feeling full after each meal.
Some of our favorite picks include:
- Wild-caught salmon
- Lean poultry like chicken and turkey
- Full-fat unsweetened Greek yogurt
#4 Your Meals Aren’t Balanced
And, it’s not just about protein. If your meals aren’t balanced, you may end up craving food even if you’re eating super healthy.
We don’t want to load up on just one single macro. For example, a high carb meal without a balance of healthy fats and protein may end up causing our blood sugar levels to get out of whack and may make us crave more sugar.
Focus on balance when prepping your meals and stick to complex carbs, while avoiding simple carbs like pastries, ice cream, and white bread or pasta.
Some great complex carb options include:
- Brown rice
- Low-sugar fruits: berries, grapefruit, cantaloupe
Pair your carb with a healthy fat like nuts and seeds or sliced avocado and a clean protein like full-fat unsweetened Greek yogurt or lean poultry.
3 Healthy Snacks to Curb Cravings
To help you fuel your body with what it needs to keep your belly full and those cravings away, we’re sharing three healthy snacks to help you power through your day.
#1 A Filling Yogurt Bowl to Satisfy Sugar Cravings
Kick those stubborn sweet tooth cravings with this filling yogurt bowl packed full of superfoods, with a touch of natural sweetness.
- 1 cup full-fat unsweetened Greek yogurt
- 1 sliced apple
- 1 sliced peach
- 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
- 2 tbsp almonds
- 2 tbsp flax seeds
- 1 tbsp raw honey
Add the yogurt to a serving bowl and top with the fruit, almonds, flax seeds, and a drizzle of honey.
Dig in and enjoy!
#2 The Ultimate Snack Attack Bowl For Salty Food Cravings
Craving something salty? Mix up a bowl of this healthy snack — this snack bowl makes healthy eating easy!
- 3 cups popcorn (like SkinnyPop or Lesser Evil brand)
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup raw cacao nibs (or dark chocolate chips)
Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and toss to combine.
Put your feet up, get your fav guilty pleasure show on and enjoy this bowl of healthier popcorn to satisfy that salty food craving.
#3 Sweet Potato Fries to Satisfy Savory Food Cravings
If you tend to crave savory foods, these sweet potato fries are sure to hit the spot. Made with only a few ingredients, they are easy to make and super delish.
- 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into french fry strips.
- 2 tbsp avocado oil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 pinch of cracked black pepper
Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Add the sweet potato fresh fry strips and drizzle with the avocado oil.
Season with the garlic powder, oregano, sea salt, and pepper.
Bake for about 15 minutes before flipping the fries over and cook for another 15 minutes or until tender.
Cool and enjoy!
Kick Those Cravings
If you eat clean but still experience food cravings, start taking a look at your stress levels and sleep habits because food cravings go beyond just what we eat. They can pop up from lifestyle habits as well.
And, when those cravings do pop up, try one of these snack ideas to satisfy that craving while fueling your body with something totally delicious that you can actually feel really great about enjoying.