Healthy Alternatives to Sugar Cravings - Part 1

The new year is in full swing, health and fitness goals are at the top of our minds, and yet we still have that treacherous sweet tooth that seems to rain on our health parade. Yes folks, the struggle is infinitely real. Especially post-holiday season when you've had not one, not two, but three of those chocolate truffles you desperately tried to resist but instead reached for with those sugar-craving hands.

Despite the fact that I love to go out and eat, I'm a big believer in a healthy and active lifestyle. Yet sugar cravings are still an ongoing battle for me. 

Naturally when we're dieting, we fall to sugar cravings. And naturally, even the most fitness savvy, health nuts on this earth get sugar cravings too. It's simply a sign from your body telling you that you may have a certain mineral deficiency, whether it's chromium, vanadium, magnesium or zinc. Besides processed foods and "bad" fats, excess sugar is the leading cause of weight gain and a number of common health issues such as cardiovascular disease.

So here is part 1 to my series of How To Combat Your Sugar Cravings Like A Champ. I give you, three of my all-time favourite snacks:

1. Plain Greek yogurt with fresh berries

Image from cookincanuck.com

Image from cookincanuck.com

This is my go-to afternoon snack, an instant power-up when the afternoon slump hits. The key is to use plain Greek yogurt, a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals and incredibly rich in proteins and calcium. While most store bought yogurts are loaded with sugar, the low-fat yogurt have even more sugar because the extra sugar is needed to make it taste better to compensate for the lack of fat. 

Think about it: 1 cup serving of non-fat, plain Greek yogurt gives you 23 grams of protein - almost half of an adult’s recommended daily intake of protein! A high protein count means you feel fuller for longer periods of time which is great for healthy weight loss and weight maintenance. 

Simply scoop out 1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt, add your favourite berries, agave nectar (or honey), and top it off with crunchy granola. Tip: sprinkle with chia seeds, a superfood extraordinaire with loads of fiber, protein and omega-3 fats known to fight belly fat.

2. Banana wrapped in whole wheat tortillas and peanut butter

Image from shine.yahoo.com

Image from shine.yahoo.com

Here's a reason to get excited about peanut butter and bananas. If you have a banana lying around, peel the banana, and heat up a whole wheat tortilla in a pan on medium heat until it's soft. Spread some peanut butter on the tortilla, and wrap the banana inside. Tip: sprinkle some cinnamon on top to add an extra kick. Et voilà! Cut it into little pieces as you wish, or eat it full-on as a wrap. 

Bananas are a great source of vitamins C and B6, and packed with fiber and potassium. They're energy-boosting carbohydrates that provide sufficient fuel for working out and sustaining your blood sugar. They also have high levels of tryptophan, which can help fight depression and improve your moods. I love bananas so much, I simply can't go a day without having a banana. 

3. Dark Chocolate with over 70% of cocoa 

Image from detoxinista.com

Image from detoxinista.com

To get all the benefits of chocolate, opt for dark chocolate bars with less sugar and a high cocoa count of over 70%. Dark chocolate is a healthy treat when consumed in moderation. It comes without all the added fat and sugar of classic milk chocolate and is loaded with antioxidants which has anti-inflammatory benefits known to combat free radicals in your body. It also lowers blood pressure and can even help regulate levels of the stress hormone known as cortisol. 

So there you have it. Check out Part 2 for a list of healthy drink alternatives to kick those sugar cravings aside. Until then, happy healthy eating!