Insatiable carb cravings?
Trust me, I’ve been there. In my darkest moments, I *may* have come close to screaming, “I NEED bread!!!”
To stop carb cravings, we need to look at the root causes, primarily imbalanced blood sugar. When we eat a large quantity of carbs, especially carbs without the presence of fat or protein to slow digestion, we spike our blood sugar. This is followed by an insulin surge and a blood sugar crash that leaves us riding the roller coaster of carb cravings.
Transitioning to a grain free lifestyle reversed my acute autoimmune symptoms and even allowed me to taper off my medication. Unlike the side effects of my medication, I welcomed the side effects of my nutrition changes, especially the eventual disappearance of sugar and carb cravings.
Perhaps you are making big changes in your diet, such as reducing your sweeteners or reducing your overall carb intake. You may find yourself craving carbs when you are not hungry, because you miss the sugar or bread that used to be a foundational part of your lifestyle. Also, emotional eating often takes the form of carb cravings.
When we find ourselves in a state of food cravings, we benefit by bringing awareness to the source of the cravings. Are you hungry out of habit? Are you craving the comfort of familiar foods? Are you providing your body with enough nutrients, especially healthy fats?
The following suggestions are not intended to replace the practice of mindful eating but rather to ease the transition to a healthier lifestyle. They are a tool to use with the long-term goal of reducing your snack intake and liberating yourself from emotional dependence on carbs.
If you are craving something sweet, try one of the following:
1. Healthy Buttermints
Made with nourishing fatty acids, peppermint oil and just a touch of sweetener, my Healthy Buttermints nip sugar cravings within a few minutes and, thanks to the good fats, provide profound satiation. The tiny amount of refined honey in the recipe satisfies your sugar cravings but won’t spike your blood sugar, because it is balanced with fats.
2. Coconut Butter + Cinnamon + Salt
This trick works just like the Buttermints above. Coconut butter is chock full of fat-burning and hunger-satisfying fats called medium chain triglycerides. It also tastes naturally sweet, with negligible carbs. Don’t confuse coconut butter (this stuff) with coconut oil – it’s the same difference as almond butter vs. almond oil.
I love sprinkling on a bit of cinnamon, which augments the sweetness, and a pinch of salt. Just a spoonful will do ya!
3. Carob “Mousse”
Once again, healthy fats from coconut come to the rescue! You won’t miss the lack of sweeteners in this coconut-cream based frosting. It’s originally a frosting recipe, but you can also call it mousse to justify eating a straight spoonful of it. That’s my reasoning, at least.
It uses only three ingredients: naturally sweet carob powder, coconut cream and vanilla extract.
If you are craving something starchy, try one of the following:
4. Sautéed Mushrooms
My newest food addiction is sautéed shiitake mushrooms. But there is a secret to preparing them in a way that brings out the most incredible toasty flavor and a chewy bread-like flavor, making them a low-carb solution to carb cravings. The healthy fats also play an important role here, like in the recipes above.
Here is the trick to making the mushrooms, courtesy of my friend the chef: Heat a thin layer of ghee in a sauté pan. Add quartered shiitake mushrooms in layer that covers the bottom of the pan. Don’t stir until they smell toasty and have taken on a golden brown color on the bottom. Then stir and repeat the process a couple of times, until the mushrooms still have a meaty, chewy texture but taste lovely and toasty. Sprinkle with salt and enjoy.
5. Sandwich Rounds
If you want bread but not the carbs, you’ll love these grain free sandwich rounds. I find that they satisfy “starchy carb cravings” but are low in carbs and made with vegetables! The recipe requires only about 3 minutes of prep time and works with any savory sandwich filling.
6. Cauliflower “Mashed Fauxtatoes”
Have you made cauliflower mash before? The texture and flavor is uncannily similar to mashed potatoes, sans the carbs. You’ll find that this comforting dish works a charm on starchy carb cravings. It has density and healthy fats to fill you up, too.
The technique is simple: steam cauliflower florets until tender, drain, and blend in a food processor or high powered blender with a dollop of ghee/butter and salt!
7. Roasted Green Beans
I made this for the first time a few weeks ago and thought, “Where has this been my whole life?!” As someone who hasn’t eaten potato chips for two years – so my perspective may be slightly skewed – I said, “These are as good as chips!” If you are craving chips or crackers, try this.
It’s a super simple recipe: Coat fresh trimmed green beans lightly in a melted ghee or coconut oil. (You need just a tablespoon or so of oil). Add some seasoning salt, if desired. Arrange in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 for an hour, stirring halfway through. Voila!
8. Cauliflower Tater Tots
Cauliflower to the rescue again! These are low carb, but taste like crispy, pillowy pockets of potato goodness.
Do you have any other healthy food ideas for carb cravings? And please share this post if you found it helpful!