Ahhh, cravings. The bittersweet desires for delicious comfort food. We have all given into them more than we wish to admit. When I was younger, I would sneak into our kitchen pantry and indulge in an obscene amount of Fruit Rollups. This is definitely where my sugar craving began.
Now as an adult living with Crohn’s Disease, I have to be more mindful in how I indulge in food. I learned a while ago that the food I put inside my body affects the way I feel physically and mentally. This is true whether you have Crohn’s or not. Food affects our mood, stress response, energy levels, sleep patterns, and so much more.
I have learned to feed my cravings by tricking them with healthier foods. I want to share some of my food alternatives with you and would love to hear yours, too! I am not a dietitian, so the following is only what works for me.
Fighting the Sweet Tooth: Cookies and chocolate are my weakness, but they also make me drowsy and can make my gut feel heavy and sensitive. I’ve had dietitians tell me to just eat more fruit to curb the sweet tooth, but that is easier said than done. Still eat your fruit, but here are some other options that work for me.
- Honey. The nectar of life! I keep bottles of natural, local honey from the farmer’s market in my pantry. I will eat a spoonful of it or put it on a piece of gluten-free toast with banana. A bee-autiful way to curb that sugar craving!
- Oatmeal with brown sugar. Be sure it is organic rolled oats and organic brown sugar. Oatmeal is heavy and will fill you up quickly. Just a spoonful of brown sugar is enough to give you that sweet kick. You could also use dark chocolate clusters or peanut butter.
- Protein Bars. Peanut Butter, chocolate, or fruity. Be aware that not all protein bars are good for you and some can upset a Crohnie’s stomach. My favorites are RX Bars and GoMacro Macro Bars. Both are gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free. You can find them at Trader Joe’s.
- Ice Cream: Hold on! Don’t get too excited. There are only two brands I go for: Arctic Zero or Halo Top Creamery.
- These two brands have gluten free and dairy free options. The best news is each pint is only 150-250 calories!
Soothing the Salt: The struggle is real, ya’ll! Before I was gluten-free, I loved barbeque-flavored chips. Now I go for healthier alternatives, but just as satisfying.
- Chickpeas. I love making roasted chickpeas at home. Toss them with a little salt and other spices and your salt craving will be happy.
- Corn chips with guacamole or salsa. Go for low-salt or no-salt corn chips. I like XoChitl Corn Chips and Garden of Eatin’ Blue Chips. Make your own guacamole at home or buy at the store. There should only be about 5 ingredients on the back label. Same with the salsa.
- Organic Almonds, Pistachios, or Sunflower Seeds. Make sure they are only lightly salted.
- Terra Real Vegetable Chips. These chips are made from root vegetables with just the right amount of salt to curb the craving.
Ahh, Comfort Food: I used to love chicken wings. I can’t eat them anymore because of Crohn’s Disease, but I still crave them! I have found some healthy comfort foods that give me that same nostalgic, cozy feeling.
- Cauliflower pizza. I haven’t eaten real pizza in years. It really hurts my stomach. Cauliflower pizza is a great alternative. You can buy it boxed at the grocery store or make your own. Trader Joe’s sells a ready-made crust.
- Spaghetti Squash. This is the only pasta I can eat. Use a red sauce or olive oil if you’re sensitive to creamy sauces like me.
- Vegetable or black bean burger. My favorite comfort food! You can make your own or buy from the grocery store. My favorite brands are Quinoa Cowboy Veggie Burgers and Dr. Praeger’s Burgers.
- Sweet potato fries. Goes perfect with the burger! Regular fries can hurt my stomach, so sweet potato fries are the perfect alternative.
Need Caffeine Now: I don’t drink caffeinated coffee, so I am always looking for options when I am craving a pick-me-up. Here are two of my favorites that do not hurt my stomach or make me feel like I have to rush to the bathroom.
- Kombucha. My new favorite obsession! This is a naturally fermented drink with probiotics. It aids in digestion, gut health, and improves mental clarity. You can find it at the grocery store, health food stores, health food cafes, and yoga studios.
- Masala Chai. This drink is enjoyed by millions in India. It’s a spiced, sweetened black tea mixed with milk and spices like cardamom, ginger, fennel, and cinnamon. Be sure to make with Almond milk or Soy milk if you are sensitive to lactose. The spices in this drink help heal the gut. You can find the recipe online.
Now, let’s talk about the most important part of all of this…Do not stress about it! It can take years to change habits. Just take each craving one at a time. Sometimes you won’t be able to beat it and you’ll eat the unhealthy option. That is OK. This is a journey and you’re supposed to have set backs. Just do your best every day and keep your goals in mind.