Break carb cravings with eight tips from nutritionists

Kicking the urge to buy breads and pastas at the grocery store is difficult especially if your body is craving the food.

But these processed carbohydrates hinder the diet by forcing the body to break down more sugar than it needs, which can pack on the pounds. 

Experts recommend having a cheat meal every week to indulge in some of these cravings, but always make sure to eat breakfast and incorporate healthy fats to curb the longing for the carb.

Daily Mail Online spoke with Nikki Ostrower, a nutritional expert and founder of NAO Wellness in NYC, and Dana James, a functional medicine nutritionist, about eight tips they recommend to break carb cravings. 

Carb cravings can deter someone when they are on a diet, but there are eight tips that can help curb these when they hit. Nutrition experts recommend to avoid cravings by eating breakfast every day and making sure vegetables make up most of the plate (file photo)

1. Cut out the ‘white carbs’

Breads, pastas and cereals are all examples of food that are considered ‘white carbs’ because they are processed and produced with white flour. 

These carbs can derail a diet because the body can’t digest them as easily and they are packed with processed sugars. 

‘The body will break down the sugar and crave it more,’ Ostrower said. 

2. Focus on the complex carbohydrates 

Ostrower said she divides carbohydrates into four main categories: Beans, fruit, starchy vegetables and white breads.

The complex carbohydrates make up the first three categories. 

‘It pretty much means they are from the ground,’ Ostrower said. 

These complex carbohydrates are not processed and can prevent diseases such as diabetes, heart problems and cancer.  

When shopping in the grocery store, Ostrower recommends going for quinoa pasta, spaghetti squash and zucchini noodles instead of a ‘white carb’. 

Also, vegetables are carbohydrates and a good source to get all the necessary nutrition a body needs.

‘I want most people to get their carbohydrates from vegetables,’ James said.

These include leafy greens, asparagus, carrots and red peppers.  

3. Add healthy fats and protein to the diet

Ostrower recommends her clients to incorporate more healthy fats into their diet to replace processed carbs. 

Examples of healthy fats include avocados, nuts and nut butter. 

They also help with ghrelin levels in the body. This hormone is produced in the stomach and secreted when it feels empty.

The hormone is the body’s natural response to prevent starvation, but it can also cause problems when someone is dieting. 

Incorporating healthy fats over processed carbohydrates into the diet can help lessen the ghrelin levels in the body when eating. 

James said protein also helps curb sugar cravings when dieting. 

‘Protein is very good at shutting down carb cravings,’ James said. 

She advises for people to always make sure to include some source of protein when eating breakfast, lunch and dinner.  

4. Don’t skip breakfast

‘You must eat breakfast,’ James said.

Breakfast helps the body replenish the food stores that have been depleted after a night of sleeping. 

It also can help curb the sugar cravings that can lead some to break the diet and eat unhealthy carbs. 

‘If someone is having sugar cravings in the afternoon, it generally means they didn’t eat breakfast,’ James said.  

5. Have a cheat meal, not a cheat day

‘A full day causes an inflammation in the body,’ Ostrower said. 

This inflammation can bring back cravings in full-force and make it difficult to bring the body back to its healthy diet.

‘If you’re eating a balanced diet 75 percent of the time you’re doing fine,’ Ostrower said.  

The cheat meal allows the body to indulge in the cravings while still remaining controlled during a diet. 

‘There should be no diet that completely robs the body of that,’ James said.   

6. Pay attention to what is on your plate

When looking at your meal, Ostrower said it should be 50 percent vegetables, 25 percent protein, 10 to 15 percent fats and the rest carbohydrates.

‘Carbs should make up a small part of your meal,’ Ostrower said. 

There is a reason why people suggest making your plate look ‘colorful’ when deciding what to eat. 

The color comes from the 50 percent of vegetables that are needed to provide the body with the optimal amount of nutrients.  

If people are trying to lose weight, James recommends them to limit the starchier carbohydrates such as legumes, quinoa and spaghetti squash to a quarter cup for lunch and dinner for females and a half a cup for males. 

7. Drink apple cider vinegar

Ostrower likes to drink a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with water before a meal.

‘It helps digest sugar and helps with our cravings,’ Ostrower said. 

But pay attention to the type of vinegar you buy when going to the grocery store. 

Some have processed ingredients that can heighten sugar cravings instead of hinder them.  

8. Take a chromium supplement if you’re having a craving

James advises her clients to have chromium supplements on hand in case they experience a sugar craving. 

Chromium picolinate is used to help the body when it is going through a sugar withdrawal. 

‘Take it when a craving hits,’ James said. 

It provides the body with the vitamin B it needs and prevents someone from indulging in a sugary carb instead. 

These can be purchased in tablet form at a vitamin shop such as Nature’s Bounty, but only a max of 1,000mcg should be taken per day.