Great Substitutions for Carb Cravings that will Keep You Healthy and Fitting into Your Skinny Jeans.

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When I was a teenager carbs were all the rage. Eat carbs and lose weight. Sounds great, doesn’t it? BUT…what carbs were you eating? Pasta, bread, crackers and fat-free cookies (full of sugar)? I know I ate my fair share of all white flour carbs to stay skinny (at the time we thought that was healthy).

Times have changed, and now everyone is afraid of carbs and fat is the reigning queen. Yet we, women especially, want to eat carbs all the time, craving them and bingeing on them in massive amounts.

Let’s break down carbohydrates and help you with your cravings.

Even when you begin changing your eating habits for the better by incorporating cleaner foods and better practices, you can still fall victim to the massive carb craving. Sometimes, we attribute these carb cravings to a lousy day at work or a stressful week of deadlines, but carb cravings can also come from physiological imbalances.

When you feel stress, cortisol, the stress hormone, skyrockets along with your blood sugar. To compensate, your body releases the fat storage

hormone, insulin, to help bring your blood sugar back to stable. When that happens, the insulin tends to overcompensate, and your blood sugar dips lower than it should. Your body becomes confused and thinks it needs more energy, and thus, a carb craving is born.

Now that you know this, you can take steps to outsmart your body when it comes to carb cravings. First, you can take steps to reduce your stress or learn healthy coping mechanisms for when it arises. Next, you’ll need to change your eating habits to satisfy that carby craving without derailing your progress.

Here are some tips and tricks on how to curb your carb cravings...

Salt be gone: I know many people who have enormous hankerings for salty carb snacks. They stick their hand in a bag and don’t stop until the bag is empty. Next time you can't shake your craving for a crunchy, salty snack like potato chips, go for something that gives you what you want in a healthy way. For example, carrot and celery sticks with a side of hummus will fill you up and fuel you for the rest of your day. You can also air-pop popcorn or roast chickpeas, sprinkling each with a little sea salt to fulfill your saltiest desires.

Replace sugary sweets with natural sweets: Sweet tooth at it again? Next time you're longing for a dessert, trick your brain with something naturally sweet that isn’t full of refined sugars and processed junk. An orange, apple, strawberries or melons are a sweet swap for sugary snacks. An organic square of dark chocolate, as long as it’s at least 80% and pure, is an indulgent choice that won’t derail your habits and is very appealing to your taste buds. You could also have a banana “shake” using almond milk, a dash of cinnamon and a few drops of vanilla extract for a treat that will satisfy your sweet tooth, guilt-free. Yum!

I love pasta and bread: Why can’t we all be Italian and eat pasta, risotto, and bread every day? Rice, pasta, bread, even cereal…these are all high-carb foods that will derail your efforts if you eat them too often. Luckily, there are swaps you can make that will fill you up while still being wholly satisfying. Cauliflower is a great way to make pizza crust, breadsticks, mashed “potatoes,” and rice. Using a spiralizer will help you make noodles out of vegetables that taste amazing, too. I love zucchini noodles with a homemade pesto on top. In all honesty, when I go to Little Italy in NYC, I’m going to eat carbs but I go with a whole wheat pasta and load up with more veggies than carbs to help balance out the meal. Delish and no regrets.

Remember this, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, beets, and carrots are all sweet vegetables that can fill your plate and offer you the sweetness you desire.

If you really can’t control a craving, suck on a lemon. It will totally clean your mouth and will help you not want carbs and the sweet flavor they offer us. Also, if carb cravings seem to be an everyday experience, be a detective and figure out if you are missing something sweet in your life such as love, healthy relationships, downtime, or time in nature, and see if you can carve out time in your day for these activities. Sometimes it’s not food were craving, but life experiences.

I would love to hear from you. Now that you've gotten some ideas on how to tackle those carb cravings leave a comment below and share what ingredients you are going to arm yourself within your kitchen at all times, so these swaps become second nature