Dieting is hard; there’s no doubt about it. One of the most difficult and stressful challenges of dieting is fighting cravings.
When you’ve been eating the same sorts of food for a while, you build up habits. You eat snacks, you eat salty and sugary foods, and you pack in all kinds of unhealthy ingredients. There are no two ways about it; junk food is addictive.
When you switch up your diet, you will almost immediately start feeling cravings for the foods you’ve cut out. You have an urge for a scoop of ice cream, or a bowl of sugary cereal, or a bag of potato chips.
Cravings have two causes: desire and habit. Desire is your mind or your body urging you to eat a specific type of food, usually salty snacks or sweets. Sugar is arguably one of the most common addictive substances in the world. Our bodies need sugar to survive, but we all eat far more than we should. Habit, meanwhile, is the simple act of snacking at a given time every day. You’re used to snacking, so now you crave a snack, even if you’ve cut those snacks out of your routine.
How can you solve this issue? You can try avoiding these unhealthy foods completely, or you can reduce your portions slowly. Or, maybe you’ll decide to throw away all your snacks so you have nothing left to snack on. Sadly, throwing away all of your junk food probably won’t help; sooner or later, you’ll probably sneak in a cheat snack, and it’s all downhill from there.
Instead, why not indulge? Oh, no, you absolutely shouldn’t keep a stash of candy bars around to snack on. Instead, go with a healthy smoothie.
Better yet, replace your breakfast or lunch with a healthy smoothie. Why?
- A good smoothie indulges in the flavors you want without being packed with sugar.
- A good smoothie is full of protein and fiber, two ingredients that suppress appetite and fight cravings.
- A good smoothie gives you enough calories to keep going throughout the day, but not so much that you ruin your diet.
With selling points like those, how can you resist?
Berries are a core ingredient of most all smoothie recipes. There are a lot of berries varieties you can try out, and they all give you different flavors to sate your cravings. Raspberries are nice and tangy, and strawberries are sweet and rich. Blackberries are dark and decadent, and blueberries can be tangy or sweet, depending on the variety.
The best part is, you can pick up a bunch of fresh berries throughout the summer and freeze them for use all year-round. Berries freeze very well, they can be cleaned ahead of time, and the frozen berries help thicken smoothies as well.
Use a single variety of berries for a focused smoothie, or use several for a mixed berry treat. You’ll get plenty of vitamins, antioxidants, and healthy sugars in every serving, without the crash from other sugary snacks.
Perhaps the number one best ingredient to add to a smoothie to fight off a sweet tooth is honey. Honey is an all-natural sweetener, and it comes with a whole range of health benefits. It’s high in antioxidants, it’s naturally antimicrobial, and it’s flavorful.
If you’re pregnant or immunocompromised, consider going with honey that has been processed. Raw honey is delicious, but it can contain bits of other stuff from when it was harvested, which might trigger allergies or give you other problems. Also, try to get local honey when you can.Support your local beekeepers, get a delicious floral treat out of it, and make the best smoothies you’ve ever had.
Honey is always going to be better for you than sugar, but it’s still pretty high in calories, so make sure to use it in moderation.
Dates are a fruit that you most often find in sticky bundles, practically dripping with sweet goodness. They’re rich, sweet, and earthy, and they work extremely well as a sweetener in smoothies. They’re very sweet – almost as sweet as honey. They help satisfy your cravings for sweet and sugary snacks while still giving you a bunch of health benefits.
For example, dates are very nutritious. They’re high in fiber, which helps keep you full. Like most fruits, they’re packed with antioxidants. They’re also very versatile. They can be a great, unobtrusive sweetener in smoothies of all sorts, from fruit and citrus smoothies to green and nutty recipes.
While you might not think of cinnamon as a typical smoothie ingredient, the spice is an excellent addition to almost any recipe. It’s spicy, earthy, and it pairs well with a ton of different ingredients. Add cinnamon to an oat and raisin smoothie for an oatmeal raisin cookie smoothie. Make a pumpkin smoothie with cinnamon for pumpkin spice. A smoothie using bananas and nut butter can add cinnamon to taste almost just like banana bread. You can even add some cinnamon to a berry smoothie to add a bit of a spicy kick to it.
Cinnamon has a bunch of its own health benefits, to the extent that many people use it as a supplement in recipes like golden milk. It’s naturally zero calories, and you don’t need a ton of it to get the flavor and health benefits, so it’s always a good, safe addition that won’t break your diet.
5. Cocoa Powder
Did you know that you can have chocolate in your smoothies, and it won’t ruin your diet? It’s true!
The trick is that “chocolate” can mean three different things. You can have small bits of dark chocolate (70% dark or more). You can have cocoa powder. Or you can have cacao nibs. All three of these are ways to add chocolate to smoothies without adding a ton of calories.
You should consider skipping the white, milk, or light chocolates. Those kinds of chocolates are packed with sugar and cocoa butter, which is all of the bad parts of candy. They have all of the unhealthy fats and sugars, with few of the benefits. Cocoa powder, on the other hand, is healthier and leaner while still giving you all of the rich decadence of chocolate.
When you have chocolate at your disposal, you can make recipes that taste like milkshakes or other desserts with ease. Mix a chocolate smoothie base with cherries for a black forest smoothie, mix with peanut butter for a “Reese’s” smoothie, and mix with mint for a peppermint patty drink.
Your options are unlimited!
6. Whole Milk Yogurt
Have you ever had a craving for a sweet treat, only to eat some and find that you’re not satisfied? Why is that? Well, sometimes you’re not craving the sweet; you’re craving the richness of the snack. That richness comes from fat.
Not all fat is bad! In fact, there is a range of healthy fats you can eat on a daily basis to promote a healthy diet. Some of them can even be added to smoothies! Avocado is one such healthy fat. Coconut oil, coconut milk, and MCT oil are other options. Our favorite, though, is just some full-fat yogurt.
Yogurt is a rich, fatty dairy product. It’s good in any situation where you’re not trying to avoid calories and when you’re not sensitive or allergic to dairy. Stay away from it if you have lactose intolerance, though.
A good, rich Greek yogurt is always a great base for a smoothie when you can drink it safely, and it adds a rich body to any smoothie flavor profile. Just don’t use it with too much nut butter or other fats, or you’ll make something too thick to drink!
Alright, now we’re messing with you, right? Who has ever heard of adding cayenne to a smoothie? Well, the truth is, surprisingly, cayenne is a great smoothie ingredient.
The little pepper is spicy, sure, but that spice can be balanced with fat and sweetness from other sources. If you’ve ever had spicy Mexican chocolate, you know what we’re talking about. A pinch of cayenne isn’t enough to make a smoothie too spicy, but it does give you health benefits.
What kind of health benefits? Cayenne can help boost your metabolism (burning calories), it can help suppress your appetite, it can help your digestion, and it can even help lower blood pressure. Give it a try! If you’re not a fan of the taste, you can consider substituting it for ginger.
Pineapple is one of the best fruits you can add to a smoothie if you want a bright, tangy sweetness. I recommend trying to find a fresh, ripe pineapple and cutting it up yourself, rather than buying cans of pineapple from the store. Canned pineapple often has a bunch of added preservatives, sugars, and even sodium that can throw your diet completely off. Fresh pineapple, meanwhile, is delicious, easy to harvest, and easy to freeze. Frozen pineapple chunks also work well, though make sure you’re getting a good brand.
Be careful if you’re pregnant, though. Pineapple has enzymes in it that can cause contractions, so you’ll want to avoid the fruit until after you’ve given birth. Once you have, though, all bets are off, and you can go to town on the delicious, tangy tropical fruit.
If you’ve ever had a Fig Newton cookie, you know the flavor of figs. They’re sweet, they’re earthy, and they’re surprisingly decadent.
Figs are an excellent alternative to dates in your smoothies. They’re a great sweetener, especially for chocolate and nut-flavored smoothies. Plus, with the right mixture (hint: add a little cinnamon), you can make a smoothie that just tastes like a Fig Newton! If you’re a fan of the cookies, you can cut your cravings and still get the flavor with figs.
The only downside of figs is that they can be difficult for some people to find at their local grocery store. Fresh figs are the best, but if you can’t find them, dried figs work fine as well.
Molasses isn’t a typical smoothie ingredient. It’s basically just sugar, though it’s slightly healthier than other forms of sugar. Make sure to use it in moderation, if you use it at all. However, the flavor of molasses is something you can’t get elsewhere.
You can, with a bit of molasses and some ginger and cinnamon, make a smoothie that tastes so much like a cookie you’ll be astonished you aren’t actually eating cookies. Give it a try; you may be surprised.
11. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are one of the few ingredients we recommend for smoothies that aren’t there for flavor. Chia seeds, in fact, don’t really have much of a flavor unless you grind them up first, and even then, it’s not very strong. So, why are they here?
Chia seeds help you fight off cravings by providing you a ton of substance to your smoothies. They’re rich in vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and healthy fats. That means a small scoop of chia seeds can help suppress your appetite and make you feel full for a long time, which is great for avoiding cravings. They work very well when mixed with fruit-based smoothies, but they can be mixed into just about any recipe.
12. Himalayan Pink Salt
Salt? What is salt doing on this list?
Well, a few things.
- Himalayan pink salt is full of additional nutrients – that’s what makes it pink.
- Salt is a flavor enhancer. A small pinch of salt will make your smoothie taste richer and more vibrant without making it taste salty.
- Salt can add to certain ingredients to make them taste saltier, intentionally, which can help you sate your cravings for salty snacks. For example, a salted caramel smoothie or a salty nut butter smoothie.
So, next time you make a smoothie, add a small pinch of salt and see how it tastes – I bet you’ll be impressed.
What are your favorite smoothie ingredients to help you beat cravings? Share with us in the comments section below! I’d love to hear what’s working from you.