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Curb Your Holiday Cravings With These Expert Tips

Curb Your Holiday Cravings With These Expert Tips


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This time of year, we are likely to be saddled with holiday parties and other events that encourage overindulgence. When they hit this low, the New Year rolls around, and they’re likely to start making resolutions about their health. We all know how long — or rather, short — those “new year, new you” sorts of promises stay intact.

A better solution than joining a gym or eating less is to think about where you often go wrong with your diet. For example, what are your cravings? What are the triggers that often lead you to those cravings?

Best-selling author and nutrition expert Julia Ross addresses this with her book The Craving Cure: Identify Your Craving Type To Activate Your Natural Appetite Control, which is set for a December 12th release via Flatiron Books. Ross’ revolutionary approach begins with a five-part questionnaire that identifies the reader’s unique craving profile and specifies the amino acid supplements needed to curb their specific type of cravings.

To learn more about Julia Ross and The Craving Cure, I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Ross for The Daily Meal. More info on the author and her approach can be found online at www.juliarosscures.com.

How would you describe your book to someone who hasn't yet picked it up?
Julia Ross: The Craving Cure is about how today’s commercial foods are generating mass cravings and epidemics of obesity and diabetes. More importantly, it’s about how we can turn off these unnatural urges overnight using a few specific brain-targeted nutrients.

How much of the book did you know before starting to write it, versus how much did you have to research in-depth?
I researched about a third of the book in depth. The rest came straight from my clinic’s experience with over four thousand food cravers.

When did you first realize that you were onto something with The Craving Cure?
It was in 1986, after my first clinic started a pilot project. We gave supplements of a nutrient that I had been researching an amino acid called tyrosine to a few crack addicts. Our first volunteer came in after a week and reported having much less craving for crack and that he had actually not used any all week! He had not been crack-free for that long in over a year.

That gave me hope that this or other amino acids might help other kinds of addicts as well. Two years later, I started a new program for overeaters. These food-addicted clients were the most responsive of all to amino acids, losing all their cravings in days! We’ve seen this happen since in thousands of cases.

What is a big mistake or misconception that you think people often make about diet?
One is that starving will help with weight loss. Calorie cutting increases cravings and weight gain over time, almost every time.

Another is that saturated fat and meat are unhealthy. The research is clear — and I reference it carefully in The Craving Cure. Our health and weight used to be ideal on a diet heavy in those two foods. It was when we stopped eating them in the 1970s and added the new high-fructose sugars that our epidemics of weight gain and health loss began.

At what point in your life did you first become diet-conscious?
In the 60’s, when “health food” became popular. Then, in the ‘70s, though my weight was fine, I was getting colds and flus a lot and my doctor told me to add two cooked vegetables and a salad a day to the eggs, meat, milk products, grains, etc. that I was already eating and to quit the candy and soda.

I did and I stopped getting sick. Everyone said how much better I looked, and I felt better too. I never forgot that lesson. Most people now can’t make these kinds of dietary decisions. No matter how “conscious” they are, their junk food cravings have become too biochemically overpowering to resist.

When it comes to people who stay on-track with a diet on most days, where do you stand on cheat days?
We rarely see anyone who can limit their “cheats.” If they can, and their health and weight remain optimal, I have no concerns. They do not really need a Craving Cure. Unfortunately, they are rare now. Commercially-prepared junk food is all most people are eating these days and it’s truly irresistible because of the new sugars it contains and the clever brain-targeted science behind it.

What does breakfast usually look like for you?
A lot like dinner. For example, three- or four-egg scramble with two plus cups of sautéed veggies, often topped by guacamole or sliced avocado. Today I had leftovers from last night; I cut up some roasted turkey thigh and vegetables with winter squash I’d cooked with garlic and ginger. I tossed them all together with olive oil, lemon, and salt and ate them as a cold salad. Fast and tasty and satisfying!

When not busy with your career, how do you like to spend your free time?
Hiking, biking, gardening, and singing in a gospel choir.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in San Francisco?
Maykadeh in North Beach serves unusually healthy, and tasty, traditional Persian food.

Finally, Julia, any last words for the kids?
Tell your parents to get the sugar out of the house and give you food like Peter Pan, Moana, and Mulan ate. It won’t be hard if you follow the adult and kid directions in The Craving Cure. Have some meat — especially meat that’s raised on grass. Let yourself eat more like your dog and cat.


Here’s the Deal With Your Junk Food Cravings

Ever feel like you have an endless craving for all the junk food — salty, sweet or both — that you can get your hands on?

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

You just can’t seem to give it up and keep eating, especially during times of heavy stress. And there’s certainly been plenty of stress to keep us hitting the bags of chocolate the last several months.

“Especially when we’re stressed, junk food often soothes us with the least amount of fuss and effort. We look for sugary and fatty foods to make us feel good,” says registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD. “But there are ways to get control of your food cravings, instead of them controlling you.”

Is “junk food” bad for you?

Junk food is food that is unhealthy for you, just as the word “junk” implies. It runs the gamut from sickly sweet (think: cookies, candy and cake) to heavy on saturated fats (think: fried and processed foods). Eating too much junk food can have short- and long-term consequences for your body thanks to these ingredients.

Saturated fats

Eating foods rich in saturated fats can increase your cholesterol levels and the amount of plaque in your blood vessels. “If you have blood vessels that are stiffening and not moving blood effectively, you have a higher risk for heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes,” says Czerwony.

Sugars

Too much sugar in your diet can lead to weight gain, a risk factor for diabetes. Some animal studies also suggest that artificial sweeteners make our bodies resist insulin. This may also increase the likelihood of developing prediabetes, diabetes and heart disease.

“Most Americans are walking around with prediabetes, putting them at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes,” Czerwony adds. “Once you have diabetes, doctors treat you as if you’ve already had a heart attack because the rate of heart disease is so much higher. All of these health issues affect all the organs, so it’s important to get a handle on them.”

What causes junk food and sugar cravings?

Czerwony lists four reasons you may be craving sweets and other junk food.

1. Food euphoria

Unfortunately, our bodies are hard-wired to crave junk food. When you eat foods you enjoy, you stimulate the feel-good centers in your brain, triggering you to eat even more.

Especially in patients with excess weight and obesity, the brain’s reward processing system for food is like its mechanisms related to substance abuse. “Sugar makes us want to eat more sugar. Fat makes us want to eat more fat,” notes Czerwony. “Our brains are chasing that pleasurable state of food euphoria.”

2. Lack of sleep

Studies suggest that sleep deprivation is associated with increased hunger (especially snack and sweet cravings). And you can blame it on your hormones. Lack of sleep causes hormone shifts:

  • Ghrelin, the hunger-control hormone, increases, causing you to eat more.
  • Leptin, the appetite-suppressing hormone, decreases. , the stress hormone, may increase, stimulating your appetite. that sleep deprivation causes an increase in overall hunger, which can lead to cravings of sugar, fat or both.

3. Habit

“If it’s normal for you to eat junk food, it can be hard to break that cycle,” explains Czerwony. “You’re used to not cooking, preparing or planning. You eat whatever’s on hand because that’s what you’ve always done.”

4. Stress

Stress, or emotional, eating really is a thing — and it’s the result of both nature and nurture. Some people find food helps distract them from negative thoughts and feelings. Others learned as children to use food to cope.

Hormones are also responsible. Like lack of sleep, ongoing stress causes the body to increase levels of cortisol and other hormones connected to hunger. Studies show this hormone tsunami increases appetite — along with your desire for sugary and fatty foods.

Seven ways to curb junk food cravings

Czerwony says these strategies can help you master your food cravings:

  • Practice mindfulness: Try to eat and drink without distractions, Czerwony advises: “Avoid eating in the car or while watching TV or answering emails. Really focus on enjoying and tasting your food. You’ll find that a few bites can satisfy your craving — and save a lot of calories.”
  • Try an air fryer: “One of the best recent inventions is the convection air fryer. It allows you to eat things that have a fried consistency, minus the oil,” explains Czerwony. “It’s a healthier way to indulge.”
  • Embrace meal planning: Czerwony says when you plan ahead, you empower yourself to make good decisions. “Even if you choose a food that’s not healthy, it shouldn’t be a problem if you plan for it by eating healthier for a couple of days before or after.” Other ways to plan include stashing healthy snacks in your bag or desk and plan dinners ahead of time so your mind (and not your stomach) decides the menu.
  • Give yourself non-food-related rewards: If treating yourself always involves unhealthy foods, you could be sabotaging your health goals. Instead, treat yourself to a new outfit, some pampering or another activity that makes you smile.
  • Drink lots of water: It’s easy to confuse thirst cues with hunger cravings. To stay hydrated all day, keep a water bottle within reach.
  • Get a good night’s sleep: Keep those hunger hormones in check with adequate rest.
  • Manage stress: “If you cultivate a healthy lifestyle, those cravings often go away because the body isn’t responding to stress. Try meditation, exercise or reading to settle yourself down in stressful moments.”

Czerwony also emphasizes that it’s OK to ask for help when you’re feeling stuck. “Talk with your primary care physician or a registered dietitian. That’s what we’re here for: to educate and empower you to make better decisions. We can help you choose healthier options and modifications rather than focusing on things you have to cut.”

Healthy alternatives to junk food

When you make an effort to understand what flavors you do and don’t like, it’s easier to find healthier alternatives. Czerwony offers a few ideas to get you started:

Same food, different version

Try changing up the style of food instead of the food itself.

  • Try oven-baked or air-fried versions of your favorite fried foods.
  • Eat lower-sugar versions of your favorite cookies and sweets — or stick to smaller portions.
  • Try pizza with 100% whole grain crust, either made from scratch or at restaurants that offer it. You can also make specialty crusts — made from ingredients such as cauliflower. And don’t skimp on the veggies!
  • Eat potatoes with the skin. The extra fiber in the potato skin helps slow digestion and keep your blood sugar in balance.

Try this instead of that

Figure out a great switch to keep you going.

  • Have a chocolate-dipped pretzel or piece of fruit instead of an entire chocolate bar.
  • In recipes, try swapping applesauce for oil or decreasing sugar by at least one-fourth.
  • Next time you want a carbonated drink, opt for sparkling water without sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  • Swap out white potatoes for sweet potatoes, which are lower on the glycemic index and higher in micronutrients.
  • Instead of pretzels and chips, enjoy air-popped popcorn, popcorn made with extra virgin olive oil or unsalted mixed nuts.
  • Try replacing sugary treats with berries and dark chocolate (over 70%). Add a bit of nut butter for protein and healthy fat. Other options include berry herbal teas, frozen berries and homemade nut balls sweetened with two to three medjool dates.

Resisting food cravings is important if you’re trying to lose weight or reduce blood pressure or cholesterol. But there is such a thing as being too restrictive. “If you’re relatively healthy, at a healthy weight, and your blood pressure and blood sugar are on point, feel free to indulge if you plan for it,” Czerwony says.

“Many of my patients eat around their craving. When they want something chocolatey, they eat a piece of fruit that doesn’t hit the spot. Then they go for an ice pop with the same result … and it goes on,” Czerwony says.

Just eat what you’re craving, really enjoy it and be done with it,” she suggests. “That way, you’ll be satisfied and won’t need to go back for more.”

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy


Here’s the Deal With Your Junk Food Cravings

Ever feel like you have an endless craving for all the junk food — salty, sweet or both — that you can get your hands on?

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

You just can’t seem to give it up and keep eating, especially during times of heavy stress. And there’s certainly been plenty of stress to keep us hitting the bags of chocolate the last several months.

“Especially when we’re stressed, junk food often soothes us with the least amount of fuss and effort. We look for sugary and fatty foods to make us feel good,” says registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD. “But there are ways to get control of your food cravings, instead of them controlling you.”

Is “junk food” bad for you?

Junk food is food that is unhealthy for you, just as the word “junk” implies. It runs the gamut from sickly sweet (think: cookies, candy and cake) to heavy on saturated fats (think: fried and processed foods). Eating too much junk food can have short- and long-term consequences for your body thanks to these ingredients.

Saturated fats

Eating foods rich in saturated fats can increase your cholesterol levels and the amount of plaque in your blood vessels. “If you have blood vessels that are stiffening and not moving blood effectively, you have a higher risk for heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes,” says Czerwony.

Sugars

Too much sugar in your diet can lead to weight gain, a risk factor for diabetes. Some animal studies also suggest that artificial sweeteners make our bodies resist insulin. This may also increase the likelihood of developing prediabetes, diabetes and heart disease.

“Most Americans are walking around with prediabetes, putting them at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes,” Czerwony adds. “Once you have diabetes, doctors treat you as if you’ve already had a heart attack because the rate of heart disease is so much higher. All of these health issues affect all the organs, so it’s important to get a handle on them.”

What causes junk food and sugar cravings?

Czerwony lists four reasons you may be craving sweets and other junk food.

1. Food euphoria

Unfortunately, our bodies are hard-wired to crave junk food. When you eat foods you enjoy, you stimulate the feel-good centers in your brain, triggering you to eat even more.

Especially in patients with excess weight and obesity, the brain’s reward processing system for food is like its mechanisms related to substance abuse. “Sugar makes us want to eat more sugar. Fat makes us want to eat more fat,” notes Czerwony. “Our brains are chasing that pleasurable state of food euphoria.”

2. Lack of sleep

Studies suggest that sleep deprivation is associated with increased hunger (especially snack and sweet cravings). And you can blame it on your hormones. Lack of sleep causes hormone shifts:

  • Ghrelin, the hunger-control hormone, increases, causing you to eat more.
  • Leptin, the appetite-suppressing hormone, decreases. , the stress hormone, may increase, stimulating your appetite. that sleep deprivation causes an increase in overall hunger, which can lead to cravings of sugar, fat or both.

3. Habit

“If it’s normal for you to eat junk food, it can be hard to break that cycle,” explains Czerwony. “You’re used to not cooking, preparing or planning. You eat whatever’s on hand because that’s what you’ve always done.”

4. Stress

Stress, or emotional, eating really is a thing — and it’s the result of both nature and nurture. Some people find food helps distract them from negative thoughts and feelings. Others learned as children to use food to cope.

Hormones are also responsible. Like lack of sleep, ongoing stress causes the body to increase levels of cortisol and other hormones connected to hunger. Studies show this hormone tsunami increases appetite — along with your desire for sugary and fatty foods.

Seven ways to curb junk food cravings

Czerwony says these strategies can help you master your food cravings:

  • Practice mindfulness: Try to eat and drink without distractions, Czerwony advises: “Avoid eating in the car or while watching TV or answering emails. Really focus on enjoying and tasting your food. You’ll find that a few bites can satisfy your craving — and save a lot of calories.”
  • Try an air fryer: “One of the best recent inventions is the convection air fryer. It allows you to eat things that have a fried consistency, minus the oil,” explains Czerwony. “It’s a healthier way to indulge.”
  • Embrace meal planning: Czerwony says when you plan ahead, you empower yourself to make good decisions. “Even if you choose a food that’s not healthy, it shouldn’t be a problem if you plan for it by eating healthier for a couple of days before or after.” Other ways to plan include stashing healthy snacks in your bag or desk and plan dinners ahead of time so your mind (and not your stomach) decides the menu.
  • Give yourself non-food-related rewards: If treating yourself always involves unhealthy foods, you could be sabotaging your health goals. Instead, treat yourself to a new outfit, some pampering or another activity that makes you smile.
  • Drink lots of water: It’s easy to confuse thirst cues with hunger cravings. To stay hydrated all day, keep a water bottle within reach.
  • Get a good night’s sleep: Keep those hunger hormones in check with adequate rest.
  • Manage stress: “If you cultivate a healthy lifestyle, those cravings often go away because the body isn’t responding to stress. Try meditation, exercise or reading to settle yourself down in stressful moments.”

Czerwony also emphasizes that it’s OK to ask for help when you’re feeling stuck. “Talk with your primary care physician or a registered dietitian. That’s what we’re here for: to educate and empower you to make better decisions. We can help you choose healthier options and modifications rather than focusing on things you have to cut.”

Healthy alternatives to junk food

When you make an effort to understand what flavors you do and don’t like, it’s easier to find healthier alternatives. Czerwony offers a few ideas to get you started:

Same food, different version

Try changing up the style of food instead of the food itself.

  • Try oven-baked or air-fried versions of your favorite fried foods.
  • Eat lower-sugar versions of your favorite cookies and sweets — or stick to smaller portions.
  • Try pizza with 100% whole grain crust, either made from scratch or at restaurants that offer it. You can also make specialty crusts — made from ingredients such as cauliflower. And don’t skimp on the veggies!
  • Eat potatoes with the skin. The extra fiber in the potato skin helps slow digestion and keep your blood sugar in balance.

Try this instead of that

Figure out a great switch to keep you going.

  • Have a chocolate-dipped pretzel or piece of fruit instead of an entire chocolate bar.
  • In recipes, try swapping applesauce for oil or decreasing sugar by at least one-fourth.
  • Next time you want a carbonated drink, opt for sparkling water without sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  • Swap out white potatoes for sweet potatoes, which are lower on the glycemic index and higher in micronutrients.
  • Instead of pretzels and chips, enjoy air-popped popcorn, popcorn made with extra virgin olive oil or unsalted mixed nuts.
  • Try replacing sugary treats with berries and dark chocolate (over 70%). Add a bit of nut butter for protein and healthy fat. Other options include berry herbal teas, frozen berries and homemade nut balls sweetened with two to three medjool dates.

Resisting food cravings is important if you’re trying to lose weight or reduce blood pressure or cholesterol. But there is such a thing as being too restrictive. “If you’re relatively healthy, at a healthy weight, and your blood pressure and blood sugar are on point, feel free to indulge if you plan for it,” Czerwony says.

“Many of my patients eat around their craving. When they want something chocolatey, they eat a piece of fruit that doesn’t hit the spot. Then they go for an ice pop with the same result … and it goes on,” Czerwony says.

Just eat what you’re craving, really enjoy it and be done with it,” she suggests. “That way, you’ll be satisfied and won’t need to go back for more.”

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy


Here’s the Deal With Your Junk Food Cravings

Ever feel like you have an endless craving for all the junk food — salty, sweet or both — that you can get your hands on?

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

You just can’t seem to give it up and keep eating, especially during times of heavy stress. And there’s certainly been plenty of stress to keep us hitting the bags of chocolate the last several months.

“Especially when we’re stressed, junk food often soothes us with the least amount of fuss and effort. We look for sugary and fatty foods to make us feel good,” says registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD. “But there are ways to get control of your food cravings, instead of them controlling you.”

Is “junk food” bad for you?

Junk food is food that is unhealthy for you, just as the word “junk” implies. It runs the gamut from sickly sweet (think: cookies, candy and cake) to heavy on saturated fats (think: fried and processed foods). Eating too much junk food can have short- and long-term consequences for your body thanks to these ingredients.

Saturated fats

Eating foods rich in saturated fats can increase your cholesterol levels and the amount of plaque in your blood vessels. “If you have blood vessels that are stiffening and not moving blood effectively, you have a higher risk for heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes,” says Czerwony.

Sugars

Too much sugar in your diet can lead to weight gain, a risk factor for diabetes. Some animal studies also suggest that artificial sweeteners make our bodies resist insulin. This may also increase the likelihood of developing prediabetes, diabetes and heart disease.

“Most Americans are walking around with prediabetes, putting them at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes,” Czerwony adds. “Once you have diabetes, doctors treat you as if you’ve already had a heart attack because the rate of heart disease is so much higher. All of these health issues affect all the organs, so it’s important to get a handle on them.”

What causes junk food and sugar cravings?

Czerwony lists four reasons you may be craving sweets and other junk food.

1. Food euphoria

Unfortunately, our bodies are hard-wired to crave junk food. When you eat foods you enjoy, you stimulate the feel-good centers in your brain, triggering you to eat even more.

Especially in patients with excess weight and obesity, the brain’s reward processing system for food is like its mechanisms related to substance abuse. “Sugar makes us want to eat more sugar. Fat makes us want to eat more fat,” notes Czerwony. “Our brains are chasing that pleasurable state of food euphoria.”

2. Lack of sleep

Studies suggest that sleep deprivation is associated with increased hunger (especially snack and sweet cravings). And you can blame it on your hormones. Lack of sleep causes hormone shifts:

  • Ghrelin, the hunger-control hormone, increases, causing you to eat more.
  • Leptin, the appetite-suppressing hormone, decreases. , the stress hormone, may increase, stimulating your appetite. that sleep deprivation causes an increase in overall hunger, which can lead to cravings of sugar, fat or both.

3. Habit

“If it’s normal for you to eat junk food, it can be hard to break that cycle,” explains Czerwony. “You’re used to not cooking, preparing or planning. You eat whatever’s on hand because that’s what you’ve always done.”

4. Stress

Stress, or emotional, eating really is a thing — and it’s the result of both nature and nurture. Some people find food helps distract them from negative thoughts and feelings. Others learned as children to use food to cope.

Hormones are also responsible. Like lack of sleep, ongoing stress causes the body to increase levels of cortisol and other hormones connected to hunger. Studies show this hormone tsunami increases appetite — along with your desire for sugary and fatty foods.

Seven ways to curb junk food cravings

Czerwony says these strategies can help you master your food cravings:

  • Practice mindfulness: Try to eat and drink without distractions, Czerwony advises: “Avoid eating in the car or while watching TV or answering emails. Really focus on enjoying and tasting your food. You’ll find that a few bites can satisfy your craving — and save a lot of calories.”
  • Try an air fryer: “One of the best recent inventions is the convection air fryer. It allows you to eat things that have a fried consistency, minus the oil,” explains Czerwony. “It’s a healthier way to indulge.”
  • Embrace meal planning: Czerwony says when you plan ahead, you empower yourself to make good decisions. “Even if you choose a food that’s not healthy, it shouldn’t be a problem if you plan for it by eating healthier for a couple of days before or after.” Other ways to plan include stashing healthy snacks in your bag or desk and plan dinners ahead of time so your mind (and not your stomach) decides the menu.
  • Give yourself non-food-related rewards: If treating yourself always involves unhealthy foods, you could be sabotaging your health goals. Instead, treat yourself to a new outfit, some pampering or another activity that makes you smile.
  • Drink lots of water: It’s easy to confuse thirst cues with hunger cravings. To stay hydrated all day, keep a water bottle within reach.
  • Get a good night’s sleep: Keep those hunger hormones in check with adequate rest.
  • Manage stress: “If you cultivate a healthy lifestyle, those cravings often go away because the body isn’t responding to stress. Try meditation, exercise or reading to settle yourself down in stressful moments.”

Czerwony also emphasizes that it’s OK to ask for help when you’re feeling stuck. “Talk with your primary care physician or a registered dietitian. That’s what we’re here for: to educate and empower you to make better decisions. We can help you choose healthier options and modifications rather than focusing on things you have to cut.”

Healthy alternatives to junk food

When you make an effort to understand what flavors you do and don’t like, it’s easier to find healthier alternatives. Czerwony offers a few ideas to get you started:

Same food, different version

Try changing up the style of food instead of the food itself.

  • Try oven-baked or air-fried versions of your favorite fried foods.
  • Eat lower-sugar versions of your favorite cookies and sweets — or stick to smaller portions.
  • Try pizza with 100% whole grain crust, either made from scratch or at restaurants that offer it. You can also make specialty crusts — made from ingredients such as cauliflower. And don’t skimp on the veggies!
  • Eat potatoes with the skin. The extra fiber in the potato skin helps slow digestion and keep your blood sugar in balance.

Try this instead of that

Figure out a great switch to keep you going.

  • Have a chocolate-dipped pretzel or piece of fruit instead of an entire chocolate bar.
  • In recipes, try swapping applesauce for oil or decreasing sugar by at least one-fourth.
  • Next time you want a carbonated drink, opt for sparkling water without sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  • Swap out white potatoes for sweet potatoes, which are lower on the glycemic index and higher in micronutrients.
  • Instead of pretzels and chips, enjoy air-popped popcorn, popcorn made with extra virgin olive oil or unsalted mixed nuts.
  • Try replacing sugary treats with berries and dark chocolate (over 70%). Add a bit of nut butter for protein and healthy fat. Other options include berry herbal teas, frozen berries and homemade nut balls sweetened with two to three medjool dates.

Resisting food cravings is important if you’re trying to lose weight or reduce blood pressure or cholesterol. But there is such a thing as being too restrictive. “If you’re relatively healthy, at a healthy weight, and your blood pressure and blood sugar are on point, feel free to indulge if you plan for it,” Czerwony says.

“Many of my patients eat around their craving. When they want something chocolatey, they eat a piece of fruit that doesn’t hit the spot. Then they go for an ice pop with the same result … and it goes on,” Czerwony says.

Just eat what you’re craving, really enjoy it and be done with it,” she suggests. “That way, you’ll be satisfied and won’t need to go back for more.”

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy


Here’s the Deal With Your Junk Food Cravings

Ever feel like you have an endless craving for all the junk food — salty, sweet or both — that you can get your hands on?

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

You just can’t seem to give it up and keep eating, especially during times of heavy stress. And there’s certainly been plenty of stress to keep us hitting the bags of chocolate the last several months.

“Especially when we’re stressed, junk food often soothes us with the least amount of fuss and effort. We look for sugary and fatty foods to make us feel good,” says registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD. “But there are ways to get control of your food cravings, instead of them controlling you.”

Is “junk food” bad for you?

Junk food is food that is unhealthy for you, just as the word “junk” implies. It runs the gamut from sickly sweet (think: cookies, candy and cake) to heavy on saturated fats (think: fried and processed foods). Eating too much junk food can have short- and long-term consequences for your body thanks to these ingredients.

Saturated fats

Eating foods rich in saturated fats can increase your cholesterol levels and the amount of plaque in your blood vessels. “If you have blood vessels that are stiffening and not moving blood effectively, you have a higher risk for heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes,” says Czerwony.

Sugars

Too much sugar in your diet can lead to weight gain, a risk factor for diabetes. Some animal studies also suggest that artificial sweeteners make our bodies resist insulin. This may also increase the likelihood of developing prediabetes, diabetes and heart disease.

“Most Americans are walking around with prediabetes, putting them at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes,” Czerwony adds. “Once you have diabetes, doctors treat you as if you’ve already had a heart attack because the rate of heart disease is so much higher. All of these health issues affect all the organs, so it’s important to get a handle on them.”

What causes junk food and sugar cravings?

Czerwony lists four reasons you may be craving sweets and other junk food.

1. Food euphoria

Unfortunately, our bodies are hard-wired to crave junk food. When you eat foods you enjoy, you stimulate the feel-good centers in your brain, triggering you to eat even more.

Especially in patients with excess weight and obesity, the brain’s reward processing system for food is like its mechanisms related to substance abuse. “Sugar makes us want to eat more sugar. Fat makes us want to eat more fat,” notes Czerwony. “Our brains are chasing that pleasurable state of food euphoria.”

2. Lack of sleep

Studies suggest that sleep deprivation is associated with increased hunger (especially snack and sweet cravings). And you can blame it on your hormones. Lack of sleep causes hormone shifts:

  • Ghrelin, the hunger-control hormone, increases, causing you to eat more.
  • Leptin, the appetite-suppressing hormone, decreases. , the stress hormone, may increase, stimulating your appetite. that sleep deprivation causes an increase in overall hunger, which can lead to cravings of sugar, fat or both.

3. Habit

“If it’s normal for you to eat junk food, it can be hard to break that cycle,” explains Czerwony. “You’re used to not cooking, preparing or planning. You eat whatever’s on hand because that’s what you’ve always done.”

4. Stress

Stress, or emotional, eating really is a thing — and it’s the result of both nature and nurture. Some people find food helps distract them from negative thoughts and feelings. Others learned as children to use food to cope.

Hormones are also responsible. Like lack of sleep, ongoing stress causes the body to increase levels of cortisol and other hormones connected to hunger. Studies show this hormone tsunami increases appetite — along with your desire for sugary and fatty foods.

Seven ways to curb junk food cravings

Czerwony says these strategies can help you master your food cravings:

  • Practice mindfulness: Try to eat and drink without distractions, Czerwony advises: “Avoid eating in the car or while watching TV or answering emails. Really focus on enjoying and tasting your food. You’ll find that a few bites can satisfy your craving — and save a lot of calories.”
  • Try an air fryer: “One of the best recent inventions is the convection air fryer. It allows you to eat things that have a fried consistency, minus the oil,” explains Czerwony. “It’s a healthier way to indulge.”
  • Embrace meal planning: Czerwony says when you plan ahead, you empower yourself to make good decisions. “Even if you choose a food that’s not healthy, it shouldn’t be a problem if you plan for it by eating healthier for a couple of days before or after.” Other ways to plan include stashing healthy snacks in your bag or desk and plan dinners ahead of time so your mind (and not your stomach) decides the menu.
  • Give yourself non-food-related rewards: If treating yourself always involves unhealthy foods, you could be sabotaging your health goals. Instead, treat yourself to a new outfit, some pampering or another activity that makes you smile.
  • Drink lots of water: It’s easy to confuse thirst cues with hunger cravings. To stay hydrated all day, keep a water bottle within reach.
  • Get a good night’s sleep: Keep those hunger hormones in check with adequate rest.
  • Manage stress: “If you cultivate a healthy lifestyle, those cravings often go away because the body isn’t responding to stress. Try meditation, exercise or reading to settle yourself down in stressful moments.”

Czerwony also emphasizes that it’s OK to ask for help when you’re feeling stuck. “Talk with your primary care physician or a registered dietitian. That’s what we’re here for: to educate and empower you to make better decisions. We can help you choose healthier options and modifications rather than focusing on things you have to cut.”

Healthy alternatives to junk food

When you make an effort to understand what flavors you do and don’t like, it’s easier to find healthier alternatives. Czerwony offers a few ideas to get you started:

Same food, different version

Try changing up the style of food instead of the food itself.

  • Try oven-baked or air-fried versions of your favorite fried foods.
  • Eat lower-sugar versions of your favorite cookies and sweets — or stick to smaller portions.
  • Try pizza with 100% whole grain crust, either made from scratch or at restaurants that offer it. You can also make specialty crusts — made from ingredients such as cauliflower. And don’t skimp on the veggies!
  • Eat potatoes with the skin. The extra fiber in the potato skin helps slow digestion and keep your blood sugar in balance.

Try this instead of that

Figure out a great switch to keep you going.

  • Have a chocolate-dipped pretzel or piece of fruit instead of an entire chocolate bar.
  • In recipes, try swapping applesauce for oil or decreasing sugar by at least one-fourth.
  • Next time you want a carbonated drink, opt for sparkling water without sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  • Swap out white potatoes for sweet potatoes, which are lower on the glycemic index and higher in micronutrients.
  • Instead of pretzels and chips, enjoy air-popped popcorn, popcorn made with extra virgin olive oil or unsalted mixed nuts.
  • Try replacing sugary treats with berries and dark chocolate (over 70%). Add a bit of nut butter for protein and healthy fat. Other options include berry herbal teas, frozen berries and homemade nut balls sweetened with two to three medjool dates.

Resisting food cravings is important if you’re trying to lose weight or reduce blood pressure or cholesterol. But there is such a thing as being too restrictive. “If you’re relatively healthy, at a healthy weight, and your blood pressure and blood sugar are on point, feel free to indulge if you plan for it,” Czerwony says.

“Many of my patients eat around their craving. When they want something chocolatey, they eat a piece of fruit that doesn’t hit the spot. Then they go for an ice pop with the same result … and it goes on,” Czerwony says.

Just eat what you’re craving, really enjoy it and be done with it,” she suggests. “That way, you’ll be satisfied and won’t need to go back for more.”

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy


Here’s the Deal With Your Junk Food Cravings

Ever feel like you have an endless craving for all the junk food — salty, sweet or both — that you can get your hands on?

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

You just can’t seem to give it up and keep eating, especially during times of heavy stress. And there’s certainly been plenty of stress to keep us hitting the bags of chocolate the last several months.

“Especially when we’re stressed, junk food often soothes us with the least amount of fuss and effort. We look for sugary and fatty foods to make us feel good,” says registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD. “But there are ways to get control of your food cravings, instead of them controlling you.”

Is “junk food” bad for you?

Junk food is food that is unhealthy for you, just as the word “junk” implies. It runs the gamut from sickly sweet (think: cookies, candy and cake) to heavy on saturated fats (think: fried and processed foods). Eating too much junk food can have short- and long-term consequences for your body thanks to these ingredients.

Saturated fats

Eating foods rich in saturated fats can increase your cholesterol levels and the amount of plaque in your blood vessels. “If you have blood vessels that are stiffening and not moving blood effectively, you have a higher risk for heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes,” says Czerwony.

Sugars

Too much sugar in your diet can lead to weight gain, a risk factor for diabetes. Some animal studies also suggest that artificial sweeteners make our bodies resist insulin. This may also increase the likelihood of developing prediabetes, diabetes and heart disease.

“Most Americans are walking around with prediabetes, putting them at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes,” Czerwony adds. “Once you have diabetes, doctors treat you as if you’ve already had a heart attack because the rate of heart disease is so much higher. All of these health issues affect all the organs, so it’s important to get a handle on them.”

What causes junk food and sugar cravings?

Czerwony lists four reasons you may be craving sweets and other junk food.

1. Food euphoria

Unfortunately, our bodies are hard-wired to crave junk food. When you eat foods you enjoy, you stimulate the feel-good centers in your brain, triggering you to eat even more.

Especially in patients with excess weight and obesity, the brain’s reward processing system for food is like its mechanisms related to substance abuse. “Sugar makes us want to eat more sugar. Fat makes us want to eat more fat,” notes Czerwony. “Our brains are chasing that pleasurable state of food euphoria.”

2. Lack of sleep

Studies suggest that sleep deprivation is associated with increased hunger (especially snack and sweet cravings). And you can blame it on your hormones. Lack of sleep causes hormone shifts:

  • Ghrelin, the hunger-control hormone, increases, causing you to eat more.
  • Leptin, the appetite-suppressing hormone, decreases. , the stress hormone, may increase, stimulating your appetite. that sleep deprivation causes an increase in overall hunger, which can lead to cravings of sugar, fat or both.

3. Habit

“If it’s normal for you to eat junk food, it can be hard to break that cycle,” explains Czerwony. “You’re used to not cooking, preparing or planning. You eat whatever’s on hand because that’s what you’ve always done.”

4. Stress

Stress, or emotional, eating really is a thing — and it’s the result of both nature and nurture. Some people find food helps distract them from negative thoughts and feelings. Others learned as children to use food to cope.

Hormones are also responsible. Like lack of sleep, ongoing stress causes the body to increase levels of cortisol and other hormones connected to hunger. Studies show this hormone tsunami increases appetite — along with your desire for sugary and fatty foods.

Seven ways to curb junk food cravings

Czerwony says these strategies can help you master your food cravings:

  • Practice mindfulness: Try to eat and drink without distractions, Czerwony advises: “Avoid eating in the car or while watching TV or answering emails. Really focus on enjoying and tasting your food. You’ll find that a few bites can satisfy your craving — and save a lot of calories.”
  • Try an air fryer: “One of the best recent inventions is the convection air fryer. It allows you to eat things that have a fried consistency, minus the oil,” explains Czerwony. “It’s a healthier way to indulge.”
  • Embrace meal planning: Czerwony says when you plan ahead, you empower yourself to make good decisions. “Even if you choose a food that’s not healthy, it shouldn’t be a problem if you plan for it by eating healthier for a couple of days before or after.” Other ways to plan include stashing healthy snacks in your bag or desk and plan dinners ahead of time so your mind (and not your stomach) decides the menu.
  • Give yourself non-food-related rewards: If treating yourself always involves unhealthy foods, you could be sabotaging your health goals. Instead, treat yourself to a new outfit, some pampering or another activity that makes you smile.
  • Drink lots of water: It’s easy to confuse thirst cues with hunger cravings. To stay hydrated all day, keep a water bottle within reach.
  • Get a good night’s sleep: Keep those hunger hormones in check with adequate rest.
  • Manage stress: “If you cultivate a healthy lifestyle, those cravings often go away because the body isn’t responding to stress. Try meditation, exercise or reading to settle yourself down in stressful moments.”

Czerwony also emphasizes that it’s OK to ask for help when you’re feeling stuck. “Talk with your primary care physician or a registered dietitian. That’s what we’re here for: to educate and empower you to make better decisions. We can help you choose healthier options and modifications rather than focusing on things you have to cut.”

Healthy alternatives to junk food

When you make an effort to understand what flavors you do and don’t like, it’s easier to find healthier alternatives. Czerwony offers a few ideas to get you started:

Same food, different version

Try changing up the style of food instead of the food itself.

  • Try oven-baked or air-fried versions of your favorite fried foods.
  • Eat lower-sugar versions of your favorite cookies and sweets — or stick to smaller portions.
  • Try pizza with 100% whole grain crust, either made from scratch or at restaurants that offer it. You can also make specialty crusts — made from ingredients such as cauliflower. And don’t skimp on the veggies!
  • Eat potatoes with the skin. The extra fiber in the potato skin helps slow digestion and keep your blood sugar in balance.

Try this instead of that

Figure out a great switch to keep you going.

  • Have a chocolate-dipped pretzel or piece of fruit instead of an entire chocolate bar.
  • In recipes, try swapping applesauce for oil or decreasing sugar by at least one-fourth.
  • Next time you want a carbonated drink, opt for sparkling water without sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  • Swap out white potatoes for sweet potatoes, which are lower on the glycemic index and higher in micronutrients.
  • Instead of pretzels and chips, enjoy air-popped popcorn, popcorn made with extra virgin olive oil or unsalted mixed nuts.
  • Try replacing sugary treats with berries and dark chocolate (over 70%). Add a bit of nut butter for protein and healthy fat. Other options include berry herbal teas, frozen berries and homemade nut balls sweetened with two to three medjool dates.

Resisting food cravings is important if you’re trying to lose weight or reduce blood pressure or cholesterol. But there is such a thing as being too restrictive. “If you’re relatively healthy, at a healthy weight, and your blood pressure and blood sugar are on point, feel free to indulge if you plan for it,” Czerwony says.

“Many of my patients eat around their craving. When they want something chocolatey, they eat a piece of fruit that doesn’t hit the spot. Then they go for an ice pop with the same result … and it goes on,” Czerwony says.

Just eat what you’re craving, really enjoy it and be done with it,” she suggests. “That way, you’ll be satisfied and won’t need to go back for more.”

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy


Here’s the Deal With Your Junk Food Cravings

Ever feel like you have an endless craving for all the junk food — salty, sweet or both — that you can get your hands on?

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

You just can’t seem to give it up and keep eating, especially during times of heavy stress. And there’s certainly been plenty of stress to keep us hitting the bags of chocolate the last several months.

“Especially when we’re stressed, junk food often soothes us with the least amount of fuss and effort. We look for sugary and fatty foods to make us feel good,” says registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD. “But there are ways to get control of your food cravings, instead of them controlling you.”

Is “junk food” bad for you?

Junk food is food that is unhealthy for you, just as the word “junk” implies. It runs the gamut from sickly sweet (think: cookies, candy and cake) to heavy on saturated fats (think: fried and processed foods). Eating too much junk food can have short- and long-term consequences for your body thanks to these ingredients.

Saturated fats

Eating foods rich in saturated fats can increase your cholesterol levels and the amount of plaque in your blood vessels. “If you have blood vessels that are stiffening and not moving blood effectively, you have a higher risk for heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes,” says Czerwony.

Sugars

Too much sugar in your diet can lead to weight gain, a risk factor for diabetes. Some animal studies also suggest that artificial sweeteners make our bodies resist insulin. This may also increase the likelihood of developing prediabetes, diabetes and heart disease.

“Most Americans are walking around with prediabetes, putting them at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes,” Czerwony adds. “Once you have diabetes, doctors treat you as if you’ve already had a heart attack because the rate of heart disease is so much higher. All of these health issues affect all the organs, so it’s important to get a handle on them.”

What causes junk food and sugar cravings?

Czerwony lists four reasons you may be craving sweets and other junk food.

1. Food euphoria

Unfortunately, our bodies are hard-wired to crave junk food. When you eat foods you enjoy, you stimulate the feel-good centers in your brain, triggering you to eat even more.

Especially in patients with excess weight and obesity, the brain’s reward processing system for food is like its mechanisms related to substance abuse. “Sugar makes us want to eat more sugar. Fat makes us want to eat more fat,” notes Czerwony. “Our brains are chasing that pleasurable state of food euphoria.”

2. Lack of sleep

Studies suggest that sleep deprivation is associated with increased hunger (especially snack and sweet cravings). And you can blame it on your hormones. Lack of sleep causes hormone shifts:

  • Ghrelin, the hunger-control hormone, increases, causing you to eat more.
  • Leptin, the appetite-suppressing hormone, decreases. , the stress hormone, may increase, stimulating your appetite. that sleep deprivation causes an increase in overall hunger, which can lead to cravings of sugar, fat or both.

3. Habit

“If it’s normal for you to eat junk food, it can be hard to break that cycle,” explains Czerwony. “You’re used to not cooking, preparing or planning. You eat whatever’s on hand because that’s what you’ve always done.”

4. Stress

Stress, or emotional, eating really is a thing — and it’s the result of both nature and nurture. Some people find food helps distract them from negative thoughts and feelings. Others learned as children to use food to cope.

Hormones are also responsible. Like lack of sleep, ongoing stress causes the body to increase levels of cortisol and other hormones connected to hunger. Studies show this hormone tsunami increases appetite — along with your desire for sugary and fatty foods.

Seven ways to curb junk food cravings

Czerwony says these strategies can help you master your food cravings:

  • Practice mindfulness: Try to eat and drink without distractions, Czerwony advises: “Avoid eating in the car or while watching TV or answering emails. Really focus on enjoying and tasting your food. You’ll find that a few bites can satisfy your craving — and save a lot of calories.”
  • Try an air fryer: “One of the best recent inventions is the convection air fryer. It allows you to eat things that have a fried consistency, minus the oil,” explains Czerwony. “It’s a healthier way to indulge.”
  • Embrace meal planning: Czerwony says when you plan ahead, you empower yourself to make good decisions. “Even if you choose a food that’s not healthy, it shouldn’t be a problem if you plan for it by eating healthier for a couple of days before or after.” Other ways to plan include stashing healthy snacks in your bag or desk and plan dinners ahead of time so your mind (and not your stomach) decides the menu.
  • Give yourself non-food-related rewards: If treating yourself always involves unhealthy foods, you could be sabotaging your health goals. Instead, treat yourself to a new outfit, some pampering or another activity that makes you smile.
  • Drink lots of water: It’s easy to confuse thirst cues with hunger cravings. To stay hydrated all day, keep a water bottle within reach.
  • Get a good night’s sleep: Keep those hunger hormones in check with adequate rest.
  • Manage stress: “If you cultivate a healthy lifestyle, those cravings often go away because the body isn’t responding to stress. Try meditation, exercise or reading to settle yourself down in stressful moments.”

Czerwony also emphasizes that it’s OK to ask for help when you’re feeling stuck. “Talk with your primary care physician or a registered dietitian. That’s what we’re here for: to educate and empower you to make better decisions. We can help you choose healthier options and modifications rather than focusing on things you have to cut.”

Healthy alternatives to junk food

When you make an effort to understand what flavors you do and don’t like, it’s easier to find healthier alternatives. Czerwony offers a few ideas to get you started:

Same food, different version

Try changing up the style of food instead of the food itself.

  • Try oven-baked or air-fried versions of your favorite fried foods.
  • Eat lower-sugar versions of your favorite cookies and sweets — or stick to smaller portions.
  • Try pizza with 100% whole grain crust, either made from scratch or at restaurants that offer it. You can also make specialty crusts — made from ingredients such as cauliflower. And don’t skimp on the veggies!
  • Eat potatoes with the skin. The extra fiber in the potato skin helps slow digestion and keep your blood sugar in balance.

Try this instead of that

Figure out a great switch to keep you going.

  • Have a chocolate-dipped pretzel or piece of fruit instead of an entire chocolate bar.
  • In recipes, try swapping applesauce for oil or decreasing sugar by at least one-fourth.
  • Next time you want a carbonated drink, opt for sparkling water without sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  • Swap out white potatoes for sweet potatoes, which are lower on the glycemic index and higher in micronutrients.
  • Instead of pretzels and chips, enjoy air-popped popcorn, popcorn made with extra virgin olive oil or unsalted mixed nuts.
  • Try replacing sugary treats with berries and dark chocolate (over 70%). Add a bit of nut butter for protein and healthy fat. Other options include berry herbal teas, frozen berries and homemade nut balls sweetened with two to three medjool dates.

Resisting food cravings is important if you’re trying to lose weight or reduce blood pressure or cholesterol. But there is such a thing as being too restrictive. “If you’re relatively healthy, at a healthy weight, and your blood pressure and blood sugar are on point, feel free to indulge if you plan for it,” Czerwony says.

“Many of my patients eat around their craving. When they want something chocolatey, they eat a piece of fruit that doesn’t hit the spot. Then they go for an ice pop with the same result … and it goes on,” Czerwony says.

Just eat what you’re craving, really enjoy it and be done with it,” she suggests. “That way, you’ll be satisfied and won’t need to go back for more.”

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy


Here’s the Deal With Your Junk Food Cravings

Ever feel like you have an endless craving for all the junk food — salty, sweet or both — that you can get your hands on?

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

You just can’t seem to give it up and keep eating, especially during times of heavy stress. And there’s certainly been plenty of stress to keep us hitting the bags of chocolate the last several months.

“Especially when we’re stressed, junk food often soothes us with the least amount of fuss and effort. We look for sugary and fatty foods to make us feel good,” says registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD. “But there are ways to get control of your food cravings, instead of them controlling you.”

Is “junk food” bad for you?

Junk food is food that is unhealthy for you, just as the word “junk” implies. It runs the gamut from sickly sweet (think: cookies, candy and cake) to heavy on saturated fats (think: fried and processed foods). Eating too much junk food can have short- and long-term consequences for your body thanks to these ingredients.

Saturated fats

Eating foods rich in saturated fats can increase your cholesterol levels and the amount of plaque in your blood vessels. “If you have blood vessels that are stiffening and not moving blood effectively, you have a higher risk for heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes,” says Czerwony.

Sugars

Too much sugar in your diet can lead to weight gain, a risk factor for diabetes. Some animal studies also suggest that artificial sweeteners make our bodies resist insulin. This may also increase the likelihood of developing prediabetes, diabetes and heart disease.

“Most Americans are walking around with prediabetes, putting them at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes,” Czerwony adds. “Once you have diabetes, doctors treat you as if you’ve already had a heart attack because the rate of heart disease is so much higher. All of these health issues affect all the organs, so it’s important to get a handle on them.”

What causes junk food and sugar cravings?

Czerwony lists four reasons you may be craving sweets and other junk food.

1. Food euphoria

Unfortunately, our bodies are hard-wired to crave junk food. When you eat foods you enjoy, you stimulate the feel-good centers in your brain, triggering you to eat even more.

Especially in patients with excess weight and obesity, the brain’s reward processing system for food is like its mechanisms related to substance abuse. “Sugar makes us want to eat more sugar. Fat makes us want to eat more fat,” notes Czerwony. “Our brains are chasing that pleasurable state of food euphoria.”

2. Lack of sleep

Studies suggest that sleep deprivation is associated with increased hunger (especially snack and sweet cravings). And you can blame it on your hormones. Lack of sleep causes hormone shifts:

  • Ghrelin, the hunger-control hormone, increases, causing you to eat more.
  • Leptin, the appetite-suppressing hormone, decreases. , the stress hormone, may increase, stimulating your appetite. that sleep deprivation causes an increase in overall hunger, which can lead to cravings of sugar, fat or both.

3. Habit

“If it’s normal for you to eat junk food, it can be hard to break that cycle,” explains Czerwony. “You’re used to not cooking, preparing or planning. You eat whatever’s on hand because that’s what you’ve always done.”

4. Stress

Stress, or emotional, eating really is a thing — and it’s the result of both nature and nurture. Some people find food helps distract them from negative thoughts and feelings. Others learned as children to use food to cope.

Hormones are also responsible. Like lack of sleep, ongoing stress causes the body to increase levels of cortisol and other hormones connected to hunger. Studies show this hormone tsunami increases appetite — along with your desire for sugary and fatty foods.

Seven ways to curb junk food cravings

Czerwony says these strategies can help you master your food cravings:

  • Practice mindfulness: Try to eat and drink without distractions, Czerwony advises: “Avoid eating in the car or while watching TV or answering emails. Really focus on enjoying and tasting your food. You’ll find that a few bites can satisfy your craving — and save a lot of calories.”
  • Try an air fryer: “One of the best recent inventions is the convection air fryer. It allows you to eat things that have a fried consistency, minus the oil,” explains Czerwony. “It’s a healthier way to indulge.”
  • Embrace meal planning: Czerwony says when you plan ahead, you empower yourself to make good decisions. “Even if you choose a food that’s not healthy, it shouldn’t be a problem if you plan for it by eating healthier for a couple of days before or after.” Other ways to plan include stashing healthy snacks in your bag or desk and plan dinners ahead of time so your mind (and not your stomach) decides the menu.
  • Give yourself non-food-related rewards: If treating yourself always involves unhealthy foods, you could be sabotaging your health goals. Instead, treat yourself to a new outfit, some pampering or another activity that makes you smile.
  • Drink lots of water: It’s easy to confuse thirst cues with hunger cravings. To stay hydrated all day, keep a water bottle within reach.
  • Get a good night’s sleep: Keep those hunger hormones in check with adequate rest.
  • Manage stress: “If you cultivate a healthy lifestyle, those cravings often go away because the body isn’t responding to stress. Try meditation, exercise or reading to settle yourself down in stressful moments.”

Czerwony also emphasizes that it’s OK to ask for help when you’re feeling stuck. “Talk with your primary care physician or a registered dietitian. That’s what we’re here for: to educate and empower you to make better decisions. We can help you choose healthier options and modifications rather than focusing on things you have to cut.”

Healthy alternatives to junk food

When you make an effort to understand what flavors you do and don’t like, it’s easier to find healthier alternatives. Czerwony offers a few ideas to get you started:

Same food, different version

Try changing up the style of food instead of the food itself.

  • Try oven-baked or air-fried versions of your favorite fried foods.
  • Eat lower-sugar versions of your favorite cookies and sweets — or stick to smaller portions.
  • Try pizza with 100% whole grain crust, either made from scratch or at restaurants that offer it. You can also make specialty crusts — made from ingredients such as cauliflower. And don’t skimp on the veggies!
  • Eat potatoes with the skin. The extra fiber in the potato skin helps slow digestion and keep your blood sugar in balance.

Try this instead of that

Figure out a great switch to keep you going.

  • Have a chocolate-dipped pretzel or piece of fruit instead of an entire chocolate bar.
  • In recipes, try swapping applesauce for oil or decreasing sugar by at least one-fourth.
  • Next time you want a carbonated drink, opt for sparkling water without sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  • Swap out white potatoes for sweet potatoes, which are lower on the glycemic index and higher in micronutrients.
  • Instead of pretzels and chips, enjoy air-popped popcorn, popcorn made with extra virgin olive oil or unsalted mixed nuts.
  • Try replacing sugary treats with berries and dark chocolate (over 70%). Add a bit of nut butter for protein and healthy fat. Other options include berry herbal teas, frozen berries and homemade nut balls sweetened with two to three medjool dates.

Resisting food cravings is important if you’re trying to lose weight or reduce blood pressure or cholesterol. But there is such a thing as being too restrictive. “If you’re relatively healthy, at a healthy weight, and your blood pressure and blood sugar are on point, feel free to indulge if you plan for it,” Czerwony says.

“Many of my patients eat around their craving. When they want something chocolatey, they eat a piece of fruit that doesn’t hit the spot. Then they go for an ice pop with the same result … and it goes on,” Czerwony says.

Just eat what you’re craving, really enjoy it and be done with it,” she suggests. “That way, you’ll be satisfied and won’t need to go back for more.”

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy


Here’s the Deal With Your Junk Food Cravings

Ever feel like you have an endless craving for all the junk food — salty, sweet or both — that you can get your hands on?

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

You just can’t seem to give it up and keep eating, especially during times of heavy stress. And there’s certainly been plenty of stress to keep us hitting the bags of chocolate the last several months.

“Especially when we’re stressed, junk food often soothes us with the least amount of fuss and effort. We look for sugary and fatty foods to make us feel good,” says registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD. “But there are ways to get control of your food cravings, instead of them controlling you.”

Is “junk food” bad for you?

Junk food is food that is unhealthy for you, just as the word “junk” implies. It runs the gamut from sickly sweet (think: cookies, candy and cake) to heavy on saturated fats (think: fried and processed foods). Eating too much junk food can have short- and long-term consequences for your body thanks to these ingredients.

Saturated fats

Eating foods rich in saturated fats can increase your cholesterol levels and the amount of plaque in your blood vessels. “If you have blood vessels that are stiffening and not moving blood effectively, you have a higher risk for heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes,” says Czerwony.

Sugars

Too much sugar in your diet can lead to weight gain, a risk factor for diabetes. Some animal studies also suggest that artificial sweeteners make our bodies resist insulin. This may also increase the likelihood of developing prediabetes, diabetes and heart disease.

“Most Americans are walking around with prediabetes, putting them at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes,” Czerwony adds. “Once you have diabetes, doctors treat you as if you’ve already had a heart attack because the rate of heart disease is so much higher. All of these health issues affect all the organs, so it’s important to get a handle on them.”

What causes junk food and sugar cravings?

Czerwony lists four reasons you may be craving sweets and other junk food.

1. Food euphoria

Unfortunately, our bodies are hard-wired to crave junk food. When you eat foods you enjoy, you stimulate the feel-good centers in your brain, triggering you to eat even more.

Especially in patients with excess weight and obesity, the brain’s reward processing system for food is like its mechanisms related to substance abuse. “Sugar makes us want to eat more sugar. Fat makes us want to eat more fat,” notes Czerwony. “Our brains are chasing that pleasurable state of food euphoria.”

2. Lack of sleep

Studies suggest that sleep deprivation is associated with increased hunger (especially snack and sweet cravings). And you can blame it on your hormones. Lack of sleep causes hormone shifts:

  • Ghrelin, the hunger-control hormone, increases, causing you to eat more.
  • Leptin, the appetite-suppressing hormone, decreases. , the stress hormone, may increase, stimulating your appetite. that sleep deprivation causes an increase in overall hunger, which can lead to cravings of sugar, fat or both.

3. Habit

“If it’s normal for you to eat junk food, it can be hard to break that cycle,” explains Czerwony. “You’re used to not cooking, preparing or planning. You eat whatever’s on hand because that’s what you’ve always done.”

4. Stress

Stress, or emotional, eating really is a thing — and it’s the result of both nature and nurture. Some people find food helps distract them from negative thoughts and feelings. Others learned as children to use food to cope.

Hormones are also responsible. Like lack of sleep, ongoing stress causes the body to increase levels of cortisol and other hormones connected to hunger. Studies show this hormone tsunami increases appetite — along with your desire for sugary and fatty foods.

Seven ways to curb junk food cravings

Czerwony says these strategies can help you master your food cravings:

  • Practice mindfulness: Try to eat and drink without distractions, Czerwony advises: “Avoid eating in the car or while watching TV or answering emails. Really focus on enjoying and tasting your food. You’ll find that a few bites can satisfy your craving — and save a lot of calories.”
  • Try an air fryer: “One of the best recent inventions is the convection air fryer. It allows you to eat things that have a fried consistency, minus the oil,” explains Czerwony. “It’s a healthier way to indulge.”
  • Embrace meal planning: Czerwony says when you plan ahead, you empower yourself to make good decisions. “Even if you choose a food that’s not healthy, it shouldn’t be a problem if you plan for it by eating healthier for a couple of days before or after.” Other ways to plan include stashing healthy snacks in your bag or desk and plan dinners ahead of time so your mind (and not your stomach) decides the menu.
  • Give yourself non-food-related rewards: If treating yourself always involves unhealthy foods, you could be sabotaging your health goals. Instead, treat yourself to a new outfit, some pampering or another activity that makes you smile.
  • Drink lots of water: It’s easy to confuse thirst cues with hunger cravings. To stay hydrated all day, keep a water bottle within reach.
  • Get a good night’s sleep: Keep those hunger hormones in check with adequate rest.
  • Manage stress: “If you cultivate a healthy lifestyle, those cravings often go away because the body isn’t responding to stress. Try meditation, exercise or reading to settle yourself down in stressful moments.”

Czerwony also emphasizes that it’s OK to ask for help when you’re feeling stuck. “Talk with your primary care physician or a registered dietitian. That’s what we’re here for: to educate and empower you to make better decisions. We can help you choose healthier options and modifications rather than focusing on things you have to cut.”

Healthy alternatives to junk food

When you make an effort to understand what flavors you do and don’t like, it’s easier to find healthier alternatives. Czerwony offers a few ideas to get you started:

Same food, different version

Try changing up the style of food instead of the food itself.

  • Try oven-baked or air-fried versions of your favorite fried foods.
  • Eat lower-sugar versions of your favorite cookies and sweets — or stick to smaller portions.
  • Try pizza with 100% whole grain crust, either made from scratch or at restaurants that offer it. You can also make specialty crusts — made from ingredients such as cauliflower. And don’t skimp on the veggies!
  • Eat potatoes with the skin. The extra fiber in the potato skin helps slow digestion and keep your blood sugar in balance.

Try this instead of that

Figure out a great switch to keep you going.

  • Have a chocolate-dipped pretzel or piece of fruit instead of an entire chocolate bar.
  • In recipes, try swapping applesauce for oil or decreasing sugar by at least one-fourth.
  • Next time you want a carbonated drink, opt for sparkling water without sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  • Swap out white potatoes for sweet potatoes, which are lower on the glycemic index and higher in micronutrients.
  • Instead of pretzels and chips, enjoy air-popped popcorn, popcorn made with extra virgin olive oil or unsalted mixed nuts.
  • Try replacing sugary treats with berries and dark chocolate (over 70%). Add a bit of nut butter for protein and healthy fat. Other options include berry herbal teas, frozen berries and homemade nut balls sweetened with two to three medjool dates.

Resisting food cravings is important if you’re trying to lose weight or reduce blood pressure or cholesterol. But there is such a thing as being too restrictive. “If you’re relatively healthy, at a healthy weight, and your blood pressure and blood sugar are on point, feel free to indulge if you plan for it,” Czerwony says.

“Many of my patients eat around their craving. When they want something chocolatey, they eat a piece of fruit that doesn’t hit the spot. Then they go for an ice pop with the same result … and it goes on,” Czerwony says.

Just eat what you’re craving, really enjoy it and be done with it,” she suggests. “That way, you’ll be satisfied and won’t need to go back for more.”

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy


Here’s the Deal With Your Junk Food Cravings

Ever feel like you have an endless craving for all the junk food — salty, sweet or both — that you can get your hands on?

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

You just can’t seem to give it up and keep eating, especially during times of heavy stress. And there’s certainly been plenty of stress to keep us hitting the bags of chocolate the last several months.

“Especially when we’re stressed, junk food often soothes us with the least amount of fuss and effort. We look for sugary and fatty foods to make us feel good,” says registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD. “But there are ways to get control of your food cravings, instead of them controlling you.”

Is “junk food” bad for you?

Junk food is food that is unhealthy for you, just as the word “junk” implies. It runs the gamut from sickly sweet (think: cookies, candy and cake) to heavy on saturated fats (think: fried and processed foods). Eating too much junk food can have short- and long-term consequences for your body thanks to these ingredients.

Saturated fats

Eating foods rich in saturated fats can increase your cholesterol levels and the amount of plaque in your blood vessels. “If you have blood vessels that are stiffening and not moving blood effectively, you have a higher risk for heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes,” says Czerwony.

Sugars

Too much sugar in your diet can lead to weight gain, a risk factor for diabetes. Some animal studies also suggest that artificial sweeteners make our bodies resist insulin. This may also increase the likelihood of developing prediabetes, diabetes and heart disease.

“Most Americans are walking around with prediabetes, putting them at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes,” Czerwony adds. “Once you have diabetes, doctors treat you as if you’ve already had a heart attack because the rate of heart disease is so much higher. All of these health issues affect all the organs, so it’s important to get a handle on them.”

What causes junk food and sugar cravings?

Czerwony lists four reasons you may be craving sweets and other junk food.

1. Food euphoria

Unfortunately, our bodies are hard-wired to crave junk food. When you eat foods you enjoy, you stimulate the feel-good centers in your brain, triggering you to eat even more.

Especially in patients with excess weight and obesity, the brain’s reward processing system for food is like its mechanisms related to substance abuse. “Sugar makes us want to eat more sugar. Fat makes us want to eat more fat,” notes Czerwony. “Our brains are chasing that pleasurable state of food euphoria.”

2. Lack of sleep

Studies suggest that sleep deprivation is associated with increased hunger (especially snack and sweet cravings). And you can blame it on your hormones. Lack of sleep causes hormone shifts:

  • Ghrelin, the hunger-control hormone, increases, causing you to eat more.
  • Leptin, the appetite-suppressing hormone, decreases. , the stress hormone, may increase, stimulating your appetite. that sleep deprivation causes an increase in overall hunger, which can lead to cravings of sugar, fat or both.

3. Habit

“If it’s normal for you to eat junk food, it can be hard to break that cycle,” explains Czerwony. “You’re used to not cooking, preparing or planning. You eat whatever’s on hand because that’s what you’ve always done.”

4. Stress

Stress, or emotional, eating really is a thing — and it’s the result of both nature and nurture. Some people find food helps distract them from negative thoughts and feelings. Others learned as children to use food to cope.

Hormones are also responsible. Like lack of sleep, ongoing stress causes the body to increase levels of cortisol and other hormones connected to hunger. Studies show this hormone tsunami increases appetite — along with your desire for sugary and fatty foods.

Seven ways to curb junk food cravings

Czerwony says these strategies can help you master your food cravings:

  • Practice mindfulness: Try to eat and drink without distractions, Czerwony advises: “Avoid eating in the car or while watching TV or answering emails. Really focus on enjoying and tasting your food. You’ll find that a few bites can satisfy your craving — and save a lot of calories.”
  • Try an air fryer: “One of the best recent inventions is the convection air fryer. It allows you to eat things that have a fried consistency, minus the oil,” explains Czerwony. “It’s a healthier way to indulge.”
  • Embrace meal planning: Czerwony says when you plan ahead, you empower yourself to make good decisions. “Even if you choose a food that’s not healthy, it shouldn’t be a problem if you plan for it by eating healthier for a couple of days before or after.” Other ways to plan include stashing healthy snacks in your bag or desk and plan dinners ahead of time so your mind (and not your stomach) decides the menu.
  • Give yourself non-food-related rewards: If treating yourself always involves unhealthy foods, you could be sabotaging your health goals. Instead, treat yourself to a new outfit, some pampering or another activity that makes you smile.
  • Drink lots of water: It’s easy to confuse thirst cues with hunger cravings. To stay hydrated all day, keep a water bottle within reach.
  • Get a good night’s sleep: Keep those hunger hormones in check with adequate rest.
  • Manage stress: “If you cultivate a healthy lifestyle, those cravings often go away because the body isn’t responding to stress. Try meditation, exercise or reading to settle yourself down in stressful moments.”

Czerwony also emphasizes that it’s OK to ask for help when you’re feeling stuck. “Talk with your primary care physician or a registered dietitian. That’s what we’re here for: to educate and empower you to make better decisions. We can help you choose healthier options and modifications rather than focusing on things you have to cut.”

Healthy alternatives to junk food

When you make an effort to understand what flavors you do and don’t like, it’s easier to find healthier alternatives. Czerwony offers a few ideas to get you started:

Same food, different version

Try changing up the style of food instead of the food itself.

  • Try oven-baked or air-fried versions of your favorite fried foods.
  • Eat lower-sugar versions of your favorite cookies and sweets — or stick to smaller portions.
  • Try pizza with 100% whole grain crust, either made from scratch or at restaurants that offer it. You can also make specialty crusts — made from ingredients such as cauliflower. And don’t skimp on the veggies!
  • Eat potatoes with the skin. The extra fiber in the potato skin helps slow digestion and keep your blood sugar in balance.

Try this instead of that

Figure out a great switch to keep you going.

  • Have a chocolate-dipped pretzel or piece of fruit instead of an entire chocolate bar.
  • In recipes, try swapping applesauce for oil or decreasing sugar by at least one-fourth.
  • Next time you want a carbonated drink, opt for sparkling water without sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  • Swap out white potatoes for sweet potatoes, which are lower on the glycemic index and higher in micronutrients.
  • Instead of pretzels and chips, enjoy air-popped popcorn, popcorn made with extra virgin olive oil or unsalted mixed nuts.
  • Try replacing sugary treats with berries and dark chocolate (over 70%). Add a bit of nut butter for protein and healthy fat. Other options include berry herbal teas, frozen berries and homemade nut balls sweetened with two to three medjool dates.

Resisting food cravings is important if you’re trying to lose weight or reduce blood pressure or cholesterol. But there is such a thing as being too restrictive. “If you’re relatively healthy, at a healthy weight, and your blood pressure and blood sugar are on point, feel free to indulge if you plan for it,” Czerwony says.

“Many of my patients eat around their craving. When they want something chocolatey, they eat a piece of fruit that doesn’t hit the spot. Then they go for an ice pop with the same result … and it goes on,” Czerwony says.

Just eat what you’re craving, really enjoy it and be done with it,” she suggests. “That way, you’ll be satisfied and won’t need to go back for more.”

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy


Here’s the Deal With Your Junk Food Cravings

Ever feel like you have an endless craving for all the junk food — salty, sweet or both — that you can get your hands on?

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

You just can’t seem to give it up and keep eating, especially during times of heavy stress. And there’s certainly been plenty of stress to keep us hitting the bags of chocolate the last several months.

“Especially when we’re stressed, junk food often soothes us with the least amount of fuss and effort. We look for sugary and fatty foods to make us feel good,” says registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD. “But there are ways to get control of your food cravings, instead of them controlling you.”

Is “junk food” bad for you?

Junk food is food that is unhealthy for you, just as the word “junk” implies. It runs the gamut from sickly sweet (think: cookies, candy and cake) to heavy on saturated fats (think: fried and processed foods). Eating too much junk food can have short- and long-term consequences for your body thanks to these ingredients.

Saturated fats

Eating foods rich in saturated fats can increase your cholesterol levels and the amount of plaque in your blood vessels. “If you have blood vessels that are stiffening and not moving blood effectively, you have a higher risk for heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes,” says Czerwony.

Sugars

Too much sugar in your diet can lead to weight gain, a risk factor for diabetes. Some animal studies also suggest that artificial sweeteners make our bodies resist insulin. This may also increase the likelihood of developing prediabetes, diabetes and heart disease.

“Most Americans are walking around with prediabetes, putting them at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes,” Czerwony adds. “Once you have diabetes, doctors treat you as if you’ve already had a heart attack because the rate of heart disease is so much higher. All of these health issues affect all the organs, so it’s important to get a handle on them.”

What causes junk food and sugar cravings?

Czerwony lists four reasons you may be craving sweets and other junk food.

1. Food euphoria

Unfortunately, our bodies are hard-wired to crave junk food. When you eat foods you enjoy, you stimulate the feel-good centers in your brain, triggering you to eat even more.

Especially in patients with excess weight and obesity, the brain’s reward processing system for food is like its mechanisms related to substance abuse. “Sugar makes us want to eat more sugar. Fat makes us want to eat more fat,” notes Czerwony. “Our brains are chasing that pleasurable state of food euphoria.”

2. Lack of sleep

Studies suggest that sleep deprivation is associated with increased hunger (especially snack and sweet cravings). And you can blame it on your hormones. Lack of sleep causes hormone shifts:

  • Ghrelin, the hunger-control hormone, increases, causing you to eat more.
  • Leptin, the appetite-suppressing hormone, decreases. , the stress hormone, may increase, stimulating your appetite. that sleep deprivation causes an increase in overall hunger, which can lead to cravings of sugar, fat or both.

3. Habit

“If it’s normal for you to eat junk food, it can be hard to break that cycle,” explains Czerwony. “You’re used to not cooking, preparing or planning. You eat whatever’s on hand because that’s what you’ve always done.”

4. Stress

Stress, or emotional, eating really is a thing — and it’s the result of both nature and nurture. Some people find food helps distract them from negative thoughts and feelings. Others learned as children to use food to cope.

Hormones are also responsible. Like lack of sleep, ongoing stress causes the body to increase levels of cortisol and other hormones connected to hunger. Studies show this hormone tsunami increases appetite — along with your desire for sugary and fatty foods.

Seven ways to curb junk food cravings

Czerwony says these strategies can help you master your food cravings:

  • Practice mindfulness: Try to eat and drink without distractions, Czerwony advises: “Avoid eating in the car or while watching TV or answering emails. Really focus on enjoying and tasting your food. You’ll find that a few bites can satisfy your craving — and save a lot of calories.”
  • Try an air fryer: “One of the best recent inventions is the convection air fryer. It allows you to eat things that have a fried consistency, minus the oil,” explains Czerwony. “It’s a healthier way to indulge.”
  • Embrace meal planning: Czerwony says when you plan ahead, you empower yourself to make good decisions. “Even if you choose a food that’s not healthy, it shouldn’t be a problem if you plan for it by eating healthier for a couple of days before or after.” Other ways to plan include stashing healthy snacks in your bag or desk and plan dinners ahead of time so your mind (and not your stomach) decides the menu.
  • Give yourself non-food-related rewards: If treating yourself always involves unhealthy foods, you could be sabotaging your health goals. Instead, treat yourself to a new outfit, some pampering or another activity that makes you smile.
  • Drink lots of water: It’s easy to confuse thirst cues with hunger cravings. To stay hydrated all day, keep a water bottle within reach.
  • Get a good night’s sleep: Keep those hunger hormones in check with adequate rest.
  • Manage stress: “If you cultivate a healthy lifestyle, those cravings often go away because the body isn’t responding to stress. Try meditation, exercise or reading to settle yourself down in stressful moments.”

Czerwony also emphasizes that it’s OK to ask for help when you’re feeling stuck. “Talk with your primary care physician or a registered dietitian. That’s what we’re here for: to educate and empower you to make better decisions. We can help you choose healthier options and modifications rather than focusing on things you have to cut.”

Healthy alternatives to junk food

When you make an effort to understand what flavors you do and don’t like, it’s easier to find healthier alternatives. Czerwony offers a few ideas to get you started:

Same food, different version

Try changing up the style of food instead of the food itself.

  • Try oven-baked or air-fried versions of your favorite fried foods.
  • Eat lower-sugar versions of your favorite cookies and sweets — or stick to smaller portions.
  • Try pizza with 100% whole grain crust, either made from scratch or at restaurants that offer it. You can also make specialty crusts — made from ingredients such as cauliflower. And don’t skimp on the veggies!
  • Eat potatoes with the skin. The extra fiber in the potato skin helps slow digestion and keep your blood sugar in balance.

Try this instead of that

Figure out a great switch to keep you going.

  • Have a chocolate-dipped pretzel or piece of fruit instead of an entire chocolate bar.
  • In recipes, try swapping applesauce for oil or decreasing sugar by at least one-fourth.
  • Next time you want a carbonated drink, opt for sparkling water without sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  • Swap out white potatoes for sweet potatoes, which are lower on the glycemic index and higher in micronutrients.
  • Instead of pretzels and chips, enjoy air-popped popcorn, popcorn made with extra virgin olive oil or unsalted mixed nuts.
  • Try replacing sugary treats with berries and dark chocolate (over 70%). Add a bit of nut butter for protein and healthy fat. Other options include berry herbal teas, frozen berries and homemade nut balls sweetened with two to three medjool dates.

Resisting food cravings is important if you’re trying to lose weight or reduce blood pressure or cholesterol. But there is such a thing as being too restrictive. “If you’re relatively healthy, at a healthy weight, and your blood pressure and blood sugar are on point, feel free to indulge if you plan for it,” Czerwony says.

“Many of my patients eat around their craving. When they want something chocolatey, they eat a piece of fruit that doesn’t hit the spot. Then they go for an ice pop with the same result … and it goes on,” Czerwony says.

Just eat what you’re craving, really enjoy it and be done with it,” she suggests. “That way, you’ll be satisfied and won’t need to go back for more.”

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy



Comments:

  1. Eadmund

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  2. Heber

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  3. Orlin

    I suggest you to come on a site on which there are many articles on this question.

  4. Adharma

    Bravo, your thought will come in handy



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