- 3 Reasons You Crave Sweet or Salty Foods
- 1. You’re starving yourself
- 2. You don’t realize how addictive sugar and salt can be
- 3. You’re not listening to your body
- Healthy snacking options: which foods should I be snacking on?
- I just want a chocolate bar! What’s a good alternative?
- What if I’m vegan or gluten free?
- I lead a very active lifestyle – what snack will sustain me for longer?
- How can I add some indulgence to my everyday snacks?
3 Reasons You Crave Sweet or Salty Foods
Does chocolate start calling your name around 2 p.m.? Does that bag of potato chips start talking to you an hour after dinner?
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The reasons we crave sugar and salt are partly physiological, partly psychological and partly because of the environment in which we live.
“The human body functions a bit a car – you put fuel in the tank, and then you drive. If the body doesn’t get the fuel it needs, then strong physical cravings can manifest,” explains Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD.
What kind of fuel does your body need? A balanced intake throughout the day of high-fiber carbohydrates, lean protein and heart-healthy fats, she says.
Consider three factors that can contribute to cravings:
1. You’re starving yourself
Think you’re being “good” by having coffee for breakfast and a garden salad for lunch?
“Truly, you’re setting yourself up for failure in the afternoon and evening,” says Ms. Taylor. “If you go too long without eating, your body will crave the fastest fuel it can think of — refined grains and simple sugars.”
Cramming them into your body late in the day means the calories will get stored as fat.
Another popular trap: Skipping meals or waiting too long between meals. “This leads to significant hunger, which makes you crave anything sweet or salty you can get your hands on,” says Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD.
An all-or-nothing mentality — forbidding all foods with sugar or salt —can backfire too.
“Some research suggests that eliminating sweet and salty foods makes you crave them less,” says Ms. Patton. “But eventually, most people tend to give in and resume eating the foods they’ve restricted. That often leads to binging.”
2. You don’t realize how addictive sugar and salt can be
Why do we crave sugar and salt, in particular? For one thing, they taste good. Manufacturers conduct research to determine which food components will tempt consumers’ taste buds the most.
“Our brains are wired to enjoy things which make us happy,” says Jennifer Willoughby, RD, CSP, LD. “Sugar, in particular, releases brain chemicals that make us feel good.” This leaves us wanting to experience that good feeling over and over again, day after day.
“Many of my patients say they are ‘sugar addicts,’ consuming real sugar and artificial sweeteners in various forms,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD.
Brigid Titgemeier, MS, RDN, LD, adds that “sweet and salty foods and beverages are incredibly addictive. That’s why many processed foods are loaded with them. They trigger the release of dopamine, a brain chemical that motivates us to engage in rewarding behaviors.”
Having fewer receptors for dopamine can trigger overeating. One study found fewer receptors for dopamine in the brains of obese individuals.
Over time, our tolerance for sweet and salty foods builds up, and we need more to reward ourselves. “We’re basically feeding our taste buds,” explains Ms. Titgemeier. “This creates a vicious cycle, because our taste buds typically crave what we feed them.”
It doesn’t help that sugary and salty foods — especially processed foods — are highly accessible. “It’s extremely challenging for kids, in particular, to ignore the natural temptation of these addicting foods and to fight cravings in the school environment and at home,” notes Ms. Willoughby.
Ever drink a diet soda or try sugar-free candy to satisfy your sweet tooth without adding calories? “Many people do, but that only compounds the problem,” says Ms. Kirkpatrick. Study after study shows that switching to diet beverages does not affect weight loss.
3. You’re not listening to your body
Jonesing for a sweet or salty treat? Before you indulge, check your fatigue level. “Research shows that when you’re tired, you’re more ly to turn to whatever you crave to get more energy or to wake up,” says Ms. Patton.
Perhaps you find yourself bingeing on salty snacks. The next time it happens, pay attention to your stress level. “Stress may impair your adrenal glands’ ability to regulate sodium, which may lead to salt cravings,” she says.
Take thirst into account, too. Some research suggests that mistaking dehydration for hunger may trigger cravings as well, she adds.
Finally, if you have diabetes, you probably know you get hungrier than other people. But excessive hunger can mean your blood sugar is too high or too low.
“If you find yourself craving sweets, check your blood sugar first,” says Dawn Noe, RD, LD, CDE. “If it’s over 200, try exercising, drinking lots of water or, if your doctor prescribes it, take insulin.
“If your blood sugar is less than 70, eat 15 grams of carbohydrate to bring it up.”
Understanding that starving yourself can boomerang, that sugar and salt can be addictive, and that your body may be trying to tell you something can help you reduce cravings and embrace a more balanced diet.
Healthy snacking options: which foods should I be snacking on?
Here at Grenade®, we love a good snack. Not the boring, tasteless kind but the kind that fuel your active lifestyle, satisfy your taste buds and provide you with tons of nutritional benefits.
We may be bias, but we think our snacking range is the best – we started the snacking revolution, after all!
Whether it’s a quick midday pick me up you need or a breakfast option that’ll keep you full right through till lunchtime, we’ve got a snack for you.
Here’s the lowdown on our snacking range – enjoy!
I just want a chocolate bar! What’s a good alternative?
If you want the chocolate bar, have the chocolate bar – life’s all about balance, right? But if you’re looking for a low sugar, high protein alternative to your fave sweet treat then Carb Killa® is the bar for you.
With a delicious chocolate coating and a thick caramel layer, Carb Killa® will curb those cravings without loading your body with unnecessary amounts of sugar.
With less than 2g of the sweet stuff and over 20g of protein, you can enjoy guilt-free indulgence.
What if I’m vegan or gluten free?
Grenade® aim to cater to all life athletes, whatever their dietary needs.
Packed full of nutty goodness, our Carb Killa® Go Nuts™ bar is vegan-friendly and gluten free! Containing absolutely nuttin’ artificial, this vegan nut bar hits the healthy snacking mark but offers tons of flavour too. Pop this must-have bar in your lunchbox, gym bag or in your pocket so you’re always armed with a healthy snack when hunger strikes.
I lead a very active lifestyle – what snack will sustain me for longer?
Oats are a great, slow-release carb, keeping you fuller for longer. But not everyone can stomach a bowl of porridge every time they're feeling a little peckish. Our Reload® flapjacks contain a balanced ratio of 2:1 carbs to protein so you can eat them at anytime.
The carbs within these tasty bars are delivered through a complex, slow release source (oats, of course), which take the body longer to breakdown and result in energy being distributed over a long period of time.
So if you're looking for a snack to carry you through to your next meal, Reload® is your best bet.
How can I add some indulgence to my everyday snacks?
You’ve probably heard about our Carb Killa® spreads – if not, where have you been? A tasty topping on toast or an indulgent filling for croissants, bagels and crepes (just these beauties, created by Grenade® ambassador Elkie Chiu), these jars of deliciousness are absolute game changers. If you're feeling particularly indulgent, you can always grab a spoon and dive straight in – this is definitely our favourite way to enjoy the spreads!
So, there you have it! We’re all for living a balanced lifestyle, which is why we believe snacking should be both healthy and fun. Because boring definitely won’t help you quash those cravings! Which Grenade® snack is your fave? Tag us in your product snaps at @grenadeofficial – we’d love to see them!