One of the hardest things with which I struggle, when I am trying to eat heathly, is keeping my cravings in check. It is never an easy thing to do because we all at one time or another crave sugar or salt; some of us even crave fast food. So, when it comes to staying on the right track, here are some tricks to help handle your random cravings when you’re trying to stay on the healthy track.
This phrase was presented to me when I was taking my health coaching course. It means to add more things into your life rather than taking things out that lead to major cravings. Let’s say you’re giving up gluten for a while, whether is it to lose weight or you want to feel better, and you completely give it up. It’s been two weeks and you’re craving a piece of toast. Rather than giving up gluten altogether, unless you’re allergic, instead switch to healthy, more wholesome breads. Maybe try sourdough, multigrain, or bread that has a lot of nuts and seeds. In this way you won’t be giving up what has been up until now a staple in your diet; you will just be swapping it out for something healthier. The same could be said for sugar. Instead of cutting sugar out of your life altogether, you instead substitute your white and processed sugars for something more wholesome, like honey or brown rice syrup. Crowding out in a sense is replacing the foods you know aren’t good for you in exchange for healthier options. In this way, you have a way to fight cravings other than to go without or just giving in.
Listen to Your Body
A lot of time cravings are just your body’s way of telling you that you are low on something important, Meaning you might be low on a vitamin or mineral. Take a moment to think about when the last time you ate something with a heavy dose of vitamins and minerals? If it has been a while and you’re craving sugar hardcore, you might really just be after some vitamin D and magnesium. Sugar cravings can often trick us into thinking we want a cookie or something sweet when, in reality, back hundreds of years ago, it was our body’s way of telling us something else. Sugar used to be a very rare thing in our diets and when we would come across it, it would be in the form or fruit or something really nutrient dense. That isn’t the case today; so, when you’re craving something sweet, your body might instead be telling you it needs some nutrients.
Are You Thirsty?
Sometimes the body puts out a signal for “I am hungry” but what it really means is “I would like some water.” The body is made up of over 60% of water. If you have been drinking coffee or sugary drinks all day, your body might just be in some need of some water. So, when you feel a craving coming on, consider when the last time you had some water. Drinking some tea or water could save you from ingesting those extra unhealthy calories. Water will also help prevent future cravings. The better hydrated you are, the fewer cravings you have. You can even fight cravings with water, even if you aren’t dehydrated.
Are You Stressed
When the mind and body are under a lot of stress, your appetite can change quite a bit. Your body secretes hormones, when you’re under stress, to suppress appetite and increase appetite. If you are under stress all day long, you might not feel like eating; but, when you get home and start to relax, this can trigger a major pig-out moment. You will also most likely try to make up for the calories you missed while you were under stress … leading to all kinds of crazy cravings. Keep that in mind if you’re someone who is under a lot of stress during the day and try to plan accordingly. Make time for self-care and stress-reducing activities.
Trust Your Cravings
Craving something sweet? Then give your body something sweet, but don’t make it processed. Instead try a sweet potato, piece of fruit, or a sweet vegetable. Or, like I said before, some honey; you could even try it in some tea. Here is a list of what could be going on, depending on what you’re craving:
Sweet: Body could be lacking in nutrition and looking for a boost of healthy food
Solution: Try substituting processed sweeteners for more wholesome ones, like honey, sweet potatoes, or dark chocolate.
Salt: Could indicate a mineral deficiency.
Solution: Try salting your veggies with some all-natural sea salt. Seaweed and other sea vegetables have salt in them.
Bitter: You digestion could use some help.
Solution: Try eating some fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi. They contain a lot of probiotics that aid in digestion. Also, try some dark leafy greens that have a lot of bitterness to them.
Spicy: Need some heat and your blood is not moving.
Solution: Spice up your food with natural peppers and spices. Instead of reaching for the fatty fast food or extreme heat, try adding spices to your everyday cooking. Also, try getting some exercise, the body might be needing some physical movement.
Cravings can be so challenging. We think our body is telling us one thing, but really it is asking us to do another. It is important to stay focused and think about what we need, rather than what we think we might want. Remember to try some water, try to substitute for something healthier, and don’t beat yourself up if you fall short.