As someone who has enjoyed sweets too much in the past, I have learned various hacks to curb my cravings.  We tend to think of whole grains only for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  But any food can be eaten at any time.  Although I am going to use oatmeal as the prime example in this article, it can be substituted for any whole grain, such as quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, or brown, black or wild rice – these are all gluten free.

Cookies are made with flour.  Flour is usually made from a grain.  The flour is typically made from wheat, but if you search gluten free cookies, they are typically made from rice, sorghum, and/or almond flours.

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Grains are naturally high in carbohydrates.  They are also subtly sweet, and then we tend to sweeten them further.  The point is that the foundations of a cookie (high carb and sweet) are still within the whole grains themselves.  The difference is that the whole grain is a more nutritious meal.  It is devoid of other preservatives, and you can manage the type and quantity of sweetener.  A potential huge game changer in choosing grains that you prepare and sweeten yourself over cookies is that grains are higher in fiber.  Fiber can help you to feel full faster, and thus may prevent you from overindulging in sweet food.

Let’s recall that fiber helps to lower cholesterol, blood sugar, and potentially blood pressure.  It also supports bowel regularity.  Fiber aids in binding various toxins and helps your body to eliminate them.

For those with compromised kidney function, fiber may help to reduce uremic toxins.  The short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) produced by fiber can help to reduce stimuli to systemic inflammation, and promote good gut health, which in turn modulates the immune system and anti-inflammatory responses (here is an article discussing this further).  Inflammation can worsen declining kidney function.  Therefore, reducing inflammation may help protect your kidneys.  Whole grains are overall less inflammatory than cookies.  Furthermore, processed cookies are going to be more acidic in your body than whole grains.  Having a more acidic state may worsen declining kidney function.  Having a more alkaline state can be protective of your kidney health.

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Food cravings can have you impulsively spending 15-30 minutes and $5-10 dollars at a time when you could just spend that time in your kitchen, and save money and gas.

When you get a craving, make yourself some oatmeal.  You may not even need a whole bowl’s worth, but just enough to satisfy you.  You can enhance it with whatever you like.

Or perhaps you’re not a sweets person but you still like carbs.  Alternatively, you can add a source of fat (ex. vegan butter), salt and pepper.

Oatmeal can be quickly prepared for consumption within 30-90 seconds in the microwave or 5 minutes on the stove (avoiding the microwave is a healthier idea, and I’d also rather you not go get cookies).  The quickness of preparing oatmeal is why I have provided it as an example because cravings can come on strong and make you want something immediately.  I encourage you to buy only unsweetened oatmeal and flavor it yourself.

However, if you are seeking to manage your cravings even further, get oats that you have to cook for about 15 minutes, such as steel cut oats.  You can also choose something like quinoa instead, which will take about 15 minutes to cook.  This exercise of waiting 15 minutes can help you to become stronger about managing your cravings and tell your insides that they will be okay without immediate gratification.

You can also use beans instead of grains for managing your sweet cravings.  Beans do not taste like much until you start to flavor them.  You can make them either salty, savory, or sweet.  Beans are high in fiber, carbs, and the additional benefit of beans is that they contain protein.  Most grains may still leave some of you feeling unsatisfied, or maybe craving a little more, due to high carb content but lack of protein and/or fat.  In this case, consider adding a protein and/or fat source to your grains, use quinoa instead which has higher protein content for a grain, or use beans.  You can blend the beans in a blender as well, as this will allow you to eat more of them and thus consume more fiber and protein.

I actually cannot have oatmeal too late because it can keep me up at night.  If you find this to be the case for you too, try a different food.

Digesting grains and beans can be difficult for some, but cookies do not digest any better.  Adding in certain spices (cinnamon, clove, cardamom, ginger, fennel, coriander, cumin, cilantro, parsley, cayenne pepper) and probiotic powders can help to better digest these foods.

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