This morning I had an email from myfitnesspal with the subject: “No more cookie cravings” with a link to an article about 5 foods that curb sugar cravings. Curious as I am, I clicked on the article link to check out their magic craving killers:
4. Celery sticks with peanut butter
5. Pumpkin seeds
Now, my reality check:
1. Berries – nothing to say against berries. They are delicious, healthy and low in calories. However, if I carve a delicious piece of chocolate cake with even richer chocolate frosting on top, no berries in the world will be able to replace this craving. Even if I was to eat a bucket full of berries! Yes, I will be full, but not satisfied. Don’t you agree?
Reality tip: When I have chocolate cravings I kill them (very efficiently!!!) with my ‘High Fiber Chocolate Spread’, which consists almost only of fiber and a little bit of cocoa powder and tastes like the junkiest, chocolate-richest stuff in the world. Honestly, when you taste it you won’t believe that it’s actually not real high-calorie food! Recipe: here!
2. Almonds – according to the article almonds are supposed to keep ‘intense sugar cravings in check’ and their healthy fats keep one more satisfied for longer. I think that almonds are indeed more satisfying than berries for example, as they have more calories and more fat, which leads to a more rewarding signal in your brain when you eat them. However, it is precisely their calorie content that is the problem. You can’t just snack on almonds whenever you want and expect not to gain weight. Almonds have about 575 kcal per 100 g. Considering that 1 almond weighs 1-2 g, depending on it’s size, a handful of almonds can easily add 120-160 kcal to your calorie budget. On top of that, it’s difficult to stop snacking on nuts once started, which will most likely increase your calorie intake even more. Honestly, nuts are just simply not the best snack choice for weight loss in my opinion.
3. Yoghurt – the article claims that a reason for sweet cravings may be an imbalanced gut microbiota and that yoghurt helps you to reset it. Well, there is indeed some animal based research that suggests that the composition of our gut bacteria may influence our behaviour. [Btw, I have this theory that it’s actually not us who rule the world, but our gut bacteria. We are only giant incubators who feed them, keep them at the right temperature and they tell us what to do. We are just robot-like figures without their own will, as our gut bacteria give us orders and determine over our actions. – Just kidding 😉 ] But we definitely don’t have enough research to tell if gut bacteria may influence the behavior of humans. We are not mice! There are several areas of research, in which things that were found to have an effect in mice did not have any effect in humans or even had the opposite effect. For this reason, it is very hypothetical and most likely not true that yoghurt helps against sugar cravings.
4. Celery sticks with peanut butter – Did anyone say peanut butter? If you are a peanut butter junkie like me, then the only safe thing to do is to stay away from peanut butter as far as possible. Having peanut butter at home means exhibiting constant afford and willpower not to snack on it and fight against your own brain’s rationalizations as to why you should have peanut butter right now… “just a little bit”, and then this little bit turns into half a jar. Considering the high calorie content and overeating potential of peanut butter, it is definitely not the best diet food.
5. Pumpkin seeds – according to the article, chocolate cravings can mean being low on the mineral magnesium. Chocolate contains some magnesium, and pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium. As such, one has to eat pumpkin seeds in order to prevent chocolate cravings. A neat theory, isn’t it?
If you are really concerned about not getting enough magnesium, then I would rather go for cocoa powder than pumpkin seeds, as it has almost 1.5-times the amount of magnesium per calorie consumed (Yes, I love numbers and really calculate such stuff!). What I mean is that cacao powder is lower in calories and has about the same magnesium content as pumpkin seeds. That’s why from a dieting perspective consuming cacao powder as a magnesium source makes more sense. If you want to save all the calories, just get a magnesium supplement. However, be careful not to get it as magnesium oxide (MgO), as it is as hard as a rock and not really absorbable by our bodies.
Additionally, I don’t really think that magnesium is the issue with regards to chocolate cravings. If this was the case, then why the hell aren’t you craving pumpkin seeds instead of chocolate if you are really low on magnesium? Pumpkin seeds have about 3.5-times more magnesium than the same amount of dark chocolate!
Having chocolate cravings can mean that you are stressed, bored, unhappy,… and want to feel better by eating comfort food, which results in happiness hormone release in your brain. Or maybe, you just like chocolate. Eating chocolate frequently may have become a habit and the reason why you crave it, once you decide to cut it out from your diet.
Take-home message: When you read such articles, do a reality check. Just because something may work in theory, it doesn’t mean that it will work in reality.
My sweet-craving tip: What helps me against sweet cravings is eating a small, ripe, mashed banana with cacao powder and chocolate FlavDrops or preparing one of the delicious, low-calorie recipes from my ‘Guilt-Free Desserts’ recipe book. Some of the recipes actually have zero calories! If you’re interested, check it out here.
I hope this article helps you to make the right choices when you get sweet cravings. If you found this article interesting and think your friends would benefit from it as well, please share it and spread the knowledge. I would really appreciate it! Thank you!