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Roasted butternut squash and apple in rosemary butter might just satisfy that sweets craving.

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Daily life is as much of a roller coaster as ever these days — throw sugar cravings into the mix, and you’re suddenly upside-down, going round and round. Sweet, salty, crunchy foods, certain tastes or textures — you name it, we crave it.

What is our body trying to tell us with these hankerings? Surely, we’ve all experienced eating out of boredom, frustration, sadness, stress or in pursuit of comfort, and when one craving begets another, we’re stuck on that amusement park ride with no exit in sight.

Not only our weight, but our entire state of physical and mental health can be sabotaged by food cravings. Some of these yearnings, however, are simply our body’s way of telling us that we just might be missing something.

Got a Sweet Tooth?Why does it always come down to water? Like the Earth, our bodies are composed of about 70% water. When we take into consideration all the caffeinated, sugary drinks we consume that may have mild diuretic properties, it’s no wonder we’re dehydrated. Sugar cravings can often be our body’s way of telling us that we’re parched … literally. While there’s not always time enough to make it to the water cooler before setting out on our expedition to find the office candy bowl, if we grab a glass of water and drink the whole thing, the craving very often (and almost magically) disappears.

If the craving remains, it could simply be one of those pesky quests for comfort. The water may not help that, but efforts to employ stress-relieving techniques (like a walk around the cubical block or a quick breath of fresh air,) may be enough to stave it off until our brain shifts gears.

Diet drinks?Our taste buds are messengers for our brains. When we eat something sweet — even artificial sweeteners — it registers as sugar. Taste buds instantaneously dispatch a memo to our brain to get ready to process some sugar. Our body does a few things with the sugar we ingest, not the least of which is storing it as fat. It also uses it for fuel and muscle building, so the brain starts firing on all cylinders, seeking the sugar it was promised. In the instance of artificial sweeteners, however, it never finds it, so it keeps looking and looking, but when it never finds anything it can actually process for energy, it throws a tantrum, the likes of a 4-year-old… and there’s your sugar craving.

Got sweets (veggies, that is)?We all need sweet things in our lives, and there are plenty of naturally sweet foods to eat. When we include high-fiber sweet vegetables like carrots, beets and other root veggies, as well as lower-sugar fruits, we can offset our need for sweets. Ever sworn off a certain food, only to have it be the ONLY thing you can think of? Restrictive diets can lead to cravings of the very thing we’ve omitted. If we incorporate some of the tastes we desire in a healthy way, we’ll be much more balanced overall. We need to make sure we’re not being too restrictive not only in what we eat, but in how much we eat. Taking in too few calories could drive us off a cliff into the vat of M&Ms.

Sweet SolutionsIn addition to water, sweet veggies, fruits and other fibrous foods, cinnamon can help play a role in regulating cravings as well, as it helps to neutralize our blood sugar levels. Ceylon cinnamon tastes slightly sweet, giving us the taste we’re seeking and can also aid in overall digestion.

Check out this recipe that just might nip that craving in the bud!

Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple in Rosemary Butter Ingredients

2 cups butternut squash – cubed

1½ cup apple – cubed (peeled or unpeeled as desired)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

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½ teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon butter

2 sprigs fresh rosemary (dried will do as well)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Cube squash & apple and place in a large mixing bowl. Coat lightly with olive oil, add salt & pepper, garlic powder and toss until evenly coated.

Place on cookie sheet, separating pieces.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until tender.

In a small sauce pan, add butter and rosemary, salt and pepper to taste.

Bring just to a simmer and pour over baked squash.

Remove mixture from oven. Pour over butter and return to oven, broiling for three minutes.

Serve hot.

Katharine A. Jameson, a certified nutrition counselor who grew up in Williamsville and Townshend, writes about food and health for Vermont News & Media. For more tricks, tips and hacks, find her on Instagram: @primaryconcernwellness