When transitioning to a healthier diet, finding satisfying snacks to replace the treats you’d usually indulge in between meals can be difficult.
For many of us, it’s especially hard in the first few weeks, when the brain is constantly screaming for unhealthy treats while you’re weighing up whether to go to the gym or not.
But, if you can tame the inner dialogue and hang in there, we know from experience the body slowly gets used to options that are better for you and starts to prefer, even crave, healthier foods.
Cutting out junk food isn’t easy and will take time: experts say
Dietitian Keri Glassman told Women’s Health Magazine: “While your body can’t be trained to eat healthy or not, based on just a few days of eating, your body can adjust, over time, to become more efficient at processing the nutrients you give it day in and day out.”
“Think of it like working out. The more you perform a certain exercise, the easier it gets,” she said.
This is based on the idea that your body will crave fewer naughty treats, if you have a nutrient-rich diet.
Scientist Doctor Susan Roberts conducted a six-month study in the United States which tested this theory.
MRI’s showed people who followed a healthy eating plan started to respond more positively to healthy foods and were less tempted by chocolate, chips and sugary drinks.
“Participants were actually teaching their brains to respond more favourably to food that did their bodies good,” Dr Roberts said.
“It’s about getting people to eat good-tasting foods that digest more slowly to weaken the link between certain food tastes and the hyper-activation of the addiction centres.
“Snacks that reinforce how good healthy food can taste are also crucial, so you don’t
end up overdoing it later.”
Replacing processed treats with nutritious, filling snacks
To get you started, here’s some of suggestions from Dr Ryan Harvey at House Call Doctor:
- Yoghurt bowls. We’ve definitely all heard of acai bowls – they’re everywhere! Well, this is similar, except the base is yoghurt. Choose a natural pot-set kind and top it with ingredients like shredded coconut, pepita seeds, LSA (ground linseed, sunflower and almond mix) and cacao nibs. Add some fruit and drizzle on rice malt syrup and then, bam! A filling bowl of goodness
- Raw desserts. These are super satiating and so yummy, you’ll probably panic that they’re not actually sugar-free.
- Time to get old school and pop your own. It’s recommended using rice bran oil. Feel free to add some butter. Eating good fats will help you feel full
- Brown rice crackers. Pick a plain flavour that’s made only from brown rice. Other whole grains are fine too, just watch the additives.
The key thing to remember is not to be too hard on yourself. A healthy relationship with food is important and part of that is allowing yourself to indulge once in a while.