Find out how to stave off cravings and some wholesome recipes that’ll assist you to briefly neglect about junk meals

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A bit of healthy recipes

  • Feelings of stress and anxiety can lead to someone ingesting unhealthy foods or not eating properly.

  • It’s also understandable to turn to junk food now – it tastes better than what’s considered healthy and can even be addicting.

  • We asked two experts for advice on curbing these cravings, as well as recipes for healthy alternatives to junk food favorites.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Spending more time inside affects a person’s mental and physical health. Even if you seem like you are on a weekly fitness routine, the nature of staying at home means you are still likely to be moving a lot less than you are used to. Familiarize yourself with the effects of a less than positive news cycle on your mental wellbeing, and it is clear that current normalcy is far from typical.

This has inevitably created an environment of fear and uncertainty. According to Samantha Cassetty, an MS, RD, and nutrition and wellness professional with a private practice in New York City, many people are turning to not only snacking between meals, but also choosing something that isn’t particularly healthy.

To help you curb this behavior, we reached out to a few experts, including Cassetty, to find out why our need for quarantine is increasing, why we crave trash, and to provide you with a few healthier recipes.

How the quarantine increased our desires

According to Cassetty, “chronic stress can actually alter your eating preferences, leading you to cravings for sugary, high-carbohydrate foods.” This means that you’re more likely to grab a bag of fries or a second or third cookie than a bag of carrots.

Higher stress levels also alter your two main hunger hormones: leptin and ghrelin. When these hormones are out of whack, food cravings are more common, even when you are not physically hungry.

The story goes on

Another reason we turn to food, especially junk food, during stressful times is the rapid release of dopamine, a hormone that induces a feel-good response. Cassetty adds that if you create pampering treats more often, it may be because it reminds you of a more pleasant time.

Or you’re just damn bored. A series of three studies found that individuals sought snacking to keep themselves entertained. This would explain a desire to have a bite to eat all the time while trying to let the time pass each day. And being bored at home is very different from being bored in the office.

For example, suppose you typically had four hours of work. You would likely fill up any remaining time by talking to coworkers or pretending to be busy, and maybe taking a few breaks for snacks or a stroll around the office. Now that your home is your office, gym, and place to relax, it’s easier to kill time by doing what you want – including frequent trips to the kitchen.

Why we turn to junk food

When browsing your fridge for groceries, chances are you’re not reaching for an available pepper or piece of fruit right away, but opting for french fries or chocolate or soda. There’s a reason for that.

For one thing, junk food just tastes better. Plain and simple. Cassetty calls processed foods like this very palatable because these lab-grown snacks are salty, sweeter, and crispy than foods grown out of the earth.

This artificial delicacy can also lead to a real addiction. In a 2018 study, participants placed an initial bid on foods like Cheetohs, Snickers, and Coca-Cola. After the participants were exposed to the treats, they increased their bids by 38%. Another study showed that rats become addicted to sugar under certain circumstances when exposed, suggesting that humans may experience the same obsession.

As Cassetty pointed out, some foods trigger a positive psychological response. A reaction that is strong enough to influence your unconscious behavior as well.

“Maybe baking reminds you that you felt safe and comfortable when you were young,” she told Business Insider. “Even if you aren’t aware of it, there is a feeling of well-being associated with baking behavior. It takes work to unravel that connection.”

How to suppress cravings

Limiting your cravings is a lot easier said than done, and there are more than one or two factors that go into making a change. According to Cassetty, it’s a multi-faceted approach. She suggests four methods to get started:

Pay attention to where you work: Make sure your workstation is outside of your kitchen. This will help avoid being stimulated to eat. When you’re in your kitchen, Cassetty said, don’t think about work and think about your next meal instead.

Eat balanced meals every four hours: “A balanced meal consists mostly of whole plant-based foods,” said Cassetty. “Half of your plate should be covered in non-starchy vegetables, accompanied by egg whites and some healthy plant-based fats (like avocado, nuts, or seeds).” This balance helps you feel full so you are less likely to want to eat.

Take a break before you eat: Before you eat, ask yourself if you are actually hungry or if the underlying feelings make you want to eat. If it is the latter, try to figure out what these feelings are and how to combat them. For example, when you’re looking to connect, set up a Zoom call with your friends. If you’re bored, get a book or watch a TV show. If you are stressed out or are not sleeping well, Cassetty recommends looking into your entire self-care routine. Meditate, train, go to bed earlier. These add up and help you feel better about yourself.

Be realistic: “It is not practical to expect that you will never seek solace in Essen again,” added Cassetty. “Perhaps it is more realistic to work on a healthier coping tool this week and see how it works. Focus on the process rather than the result – in which case you reduce the cravings. As long as you continue to focus on the process, you’re making progress and you should be feeling really good. “

Don’t forget to be nice to you too. As Cassetty pointed out, being realistic is not a damn trait being influenced by junk food. Right now, these feelings aren’t just normal, they’re justified (and expected).

Do you feel like it? Cook this

One way to get rid of excess junk food is to find healthy alternatives to what you enjoy eating. To help, we reached out to Mason Woodruff, a chef who runs the popular cooking blog, Kinda Healthy Recipes. Woodruff originally wanted to be a registered nutritionist but switched gears by combining his love of food science and healthy eating to develop a better mindset about traditional junk food.

The following are five of his favorite recipes that anyone can easily cook at home to satisfy a wide variety of cravings. Maybe you want to throw down a basket of garlic fries? Try Mason’s Air Fried Garlic Parmesan Carrots instead. There is even a cookie recipe for anyone with an insatiable sweet tooth.

Desires: Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese

Buffalo Chicken Mac and CheeseA bit of healthy recipes

Cook This: Buffalo Chicken Chickpea Mac & Cheese

Classic macaroni and cheese are a protein-free fat and carbohydrate bomb. Woodruff reduces carbohydrates by replacing standard pasta with a variety of chickpeas that contains one-third of the carbohydrates in regular macaroni.

The recipe also combines full-fat Monterey jack with fat-free powdered cheese and yogurt to achieve the same sticky texture, but with less than 20 grams of fat per serving. To make the protein stronger, he also adds ground chicken to the mixture.

Cravings: Garlic Parmesan Fries

Air fryer carrot friesA bit of healthy recipes

Cook this: garlic parmesan air fryer carrots

There are few culinary delights when indulging in a basket of garlic fries. They’re salty, crispy, and cheesy. However, like most junk food products, they offer almost no nutritional value in the form of vitamins. So Woodruff replaced high-carb, low-vitamin potatoes with carrots, a vegetable that contains more than half the carbohydrates and is filled with vitamins A and C.

If you cut them into thin strips, season them liberally, and cook them until crispy, you get the same satisfying texture as french fries, but without the side effects of fattening.

Desires: Spicy Popcorn Chicken

spicy popcorn chickenA bit of healthy recipes

Cook This: Spicy Popcorn Chicken

Although the name of each dish here is similar, Woodruff differentiates the two by asking for honey and corn flakes to make the chicken coating instead. That way, you get a sweet and tangy taste with a satisfying crunchy exterior that will satisfy your deep-fried cravings.

Desire: Cheeseburgers from a fast food chain

healthy cheeseburger bitesA bit of healthy recipes

Cook This: Cheeseburger Bites

While burgers are high in protein, they also contain about a day of fat for most people. However, when compared to most healthy versions of fast food, burgers can be modified slightly while maintaining taste and familiarity.

Swap out 80/20 beef for the extra lean variety, cut down on the amount of cheese you use, and rely on mustard, ketchup, and pickles instead to flavor the meat. In his version, Woodruff digs the bun and bakes those balls in a muffin pan for a low-carb treat.

Desire: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookiesA bit of healthy recipes

Cook This: Chocolate Chip Protein Cookies

This recipe is a little more complicated as you have to make your own batter, but it’s well worth the elbow fat if you’re craving something sweet. You continue to use standard flour and chocolate, but mix them with low-calorie sweeteners and protein powders for more balanced macros.

Read the original article on Insider