carb cravings

Carb cravings can throw a wrench in even the best diet. While not all carbs are bad, most of the ones we crave are not good for us (think bread, pasta, and sweets). So how do you curb unhealthy carb cravings? First, you must understand what sparks that craving in the first place.

Why do we crave carbs?

Factors like hormone shifts, for example, or stress can spark carb cravings. Women may notice they crave carbs during their menstrual cycle. This is because eating carbohydrates increases serotonin in our body (the “feel-good” hormone). Once we start associating carbs with feeling good, we tend to turn toward carb-filled foods to make us feel better.

Food options for when you’re craving carbs

If you’re trying to steer clear of unhealthy carbs, sheer willpower probably isn’t going to cut it. So instead of just resisting the temptation to eat muffins, cake, and bread, swap out those carbs for a healthier option. Here are some healthy alternatives to incorporate into your diet.

1. Popcorn

Anytime you’re craving an unhealthy carb, replace it with a healthier alternative that still satisfies. So if you’re craving something crunchy, try eating popcorn. Popcorn has whole grain and fiber, two things that are great for you.

2. Baby carrots

Baby carrots are a great alternative snack choice to just about any carb. They’re easy to grab-n-go and can easily be spiced up with a little hummus or ranch dip.

3. Water

Dehydration can sometimes manifest itself as hunger. Consequently, drinking half your body weight in water each day can keep you from reaching for unhealthy, carb-filled foods and stave off the munchies. Getting a water bottle that keeps your water cold can help you get those ounces in and track how much you’re drinking.

4. Fruit

There are so many vitamins and nutrients in fruit. And, with so many options to choose from, you’re bound to find one that excites your taste buds. Curb your carb craving with a handful of berries, an apple, a mandarin, or a banana.

5. Better bread

Bread gets a bad rap and sure, many breads are heavily processed, full of sugar, and aren’t filling at all. But you don’t have to swear off bread! There are healthy options out there, like whole grain bread, that contain things that your body needs like fiber, iron, B vitamins, and magnesium. So just grab a better bread next time you’re at the store.

6. Nuts and seeds

carb cravings

Many of the carby things we enjoy like chips and pretzels are crunchy, salty, and easy to munch on. So again, when you’re looking for an alternative, try to find something that checks all of those boxes but also packs a good punch of protein and healthy fat, like nuts and seeds!

7. Dark chocolate

Did you know dark chocolate is a superfood? It’s rich in antioxidants and numerous minerals including iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and selenium. It also has soluble fiber. So the next time you’re craving a carb-filled donut, grab a piece or two of dark chocolate (70% or higher) instead.

8. Protein + carb

If you really can’t resist the urge to munch on some pita crackers or a muffin, try to pair that carb with a protein. Eat a cheese stick with the crackers or a couple of eggs with the muffin. Protein balances out the carbs, giving you a better, more sustainable burst of energy and making you less likely to crash later.

Because carb intake and stress are closely linked, lowering your stress levels could also help you cut back on carb intake. Trim down your obligations, get a solid 7-8 hours of good sleep each night, or go on a daily walk outside to boost your serotonin levels naturally. Relieving the stress in your life can keep your carb cravings in check.