We all get them - food cravings of chocolate, spicy foods, salt, fizzy drinks... But did you know that you can beat your cravings? Let’s look at food cravings in a slightly different way. if for example you’re craving sugar (Sweets, cakes, biscuits, chocolate etc.) take a look at the following:
Have you got this ‘stuff’ in your environment? i.e., is it at home in your kitchen cupboards? Your fridge? Car? Workplace? Do your friends offer these kinds of foods to you when you pop by? Any hobbies you do where these foods are readily available? I know of people who have horses and the yard that their horses are kept at have a kitchen/sitting space where you can make tea/coffee, eat if you’re there a long time. And the table is always overloaded with this sort of food… which makes it so hard to resist if you’re running low!
Are there any times of the day when your energy levels are particularly low? Make a note of those times of day. What meal did you have before this ‘dip’? Was it properly balanced, as in a good mix of protein, carbs and fats? Were there enough carbs, of the healthy kind? If you ate carbs without any protein or fat, it is quite possible that that caused a ‘spike’ in your blood sugar levels and then a slump or dip afterwards… become a bit of a ‘diet’ detective and note these times and the meals you had before. Try adding some more healthy carbs to the meal before.
Stress can be a ‘biggy’! Very often something happens, unexpectedly, unplanned that has a negative impact on our mood! This catches us off guard and often triggers a negative reaction or change in our mood! Firstly, let us remember that we choose how we respond to these ‘events’…. But that’s whole other topic! Our first reaction can be ‘oh stuff it!’ and we reach for the chocolate, sweets, cakes, biscuits. Chocolate especially (we’ve all done it!). Chocolate releases serotonin and endorphins (those happy hormones!), so temporarily they will make us feel better. But often not for the long term, often after the event we can be racked with guilt because we ate something we hadn’t really intended too and then we feel bad. This can lead to a bigger downward spiral! These feelings are self-defeating and if we can avoid them, let’s do that! I know it’s hard, but never ‘give’ someone the power to make you act in a certain way that is just going to be negative for you! Hard, really hard I know, and another topic along with choosing how we respond to events or people! Instead, remember what else releases those happy hormones……???? Exercise... so if you can, change your mood with a quick few star jumps or a sprint on the spot! A quick 5 minutes will make a massive difference to your mood, if you choose the star jumps over the chocolate, not only will you release all those great hormones, you will also give yourself a boost in the mental clarity stakes too and if you need to be thinking more clearly this is a huge bonus!
Do we do somethings habitually, such as have coffee and cake at 11am? Or a cup of tea and biscuits at 3pm? Settle on the sofa at 7pm with a glass of wine and chocolates? Anything else we do habitually, without thinking? Think about all of those things that you routinely do that have become almost subconscious….
Can we replace those habits? What would we do instead? Elevenses and our afternoon break from our desks, if we’re office bound…. Can we get up, get out and get some fresh air for 5 minutes? Have a drink of water instead?
There is a rollercoaster effect of sugar on our blood sugar levels.. we eat sugar our energy levels do go up, but it dips down again shortly afterwards, leaving us craving more sugar, so the cycle goes on! If you really do feel desperate for some sugar, have a little. If we eat sugar with some protein or fat this will help stabilise the blood sugar levels ….. have something high protein first if you can…
So if you really would like to have a little, how much sugar is deemed ok….. 15grams in any one sitting… measure your sweet things out… a little bit of what you fancy could just satisfy your craving. Try Stevia as a sugar replacement. Have dark chocolate; 75/80% cocoa.. one or two squares is usually sufficient. Have just 15g of that cake, just a taste so that you are not feeling deprived. Eat a mint after a meal….. or chew a piece of gum (but please dispose of it responsibly!) nothing else tastes good after a mint! Buy your favourite treat in much smaller portions.
Cinnamon has been shown to help control cravings and help level out blood sugars, it’s great to sprinkle on cereal, oats etc. If ice cream is your treat why not try frozen yogurt, add crushed berries for some extra flavour or texture, or make smoothies…..
Having a little bit of what you fancy is often really positive from a psychological point of view, meaning we don’t feel like we’re depriving ourselves and can follow an 80/20 rule! Eating as healthily as possible 80% of the time will have a long lasting positive affect on our lives, waistlines, blood sugar levels and our minds!