Got Cravings? 3 Ways to Beat Them

Sometimes my body and I have conversations.

For the most part they’re friendly. “Hello, body, how you feeling today? Good? Good. Ready to get out of bed? No? That’s fine, me neither.”

But sometimes we argue.

Me: “Cardio, right? Just one more round! We got this!”

Body: “Say what?”

And sometimes, my body tells me things it wants. 

That I don’t want. Or rather, that I don’t want sitting on my hips.

Body: “I’m hungry.”

Me: “Ok, how about a nice, nutritious salad. Sound good?”

“No, I want carbs.”

“There are carbs in salad. Healthy ones.”

“MORE carbs.”

“Fine, we’ll have a sweet potato. Healthy carbs for you, nutrition for me.”

*eats sweet potato*

“There, you happy?”

Body: “MORE CARBS.”

At this point I eat any sugar in sight.

So what causes cravings?

What makes your body stop and holler “CHOCOLATE NOW!”?

While many factors play a role, these are my top three craving traps – and how I beat them:

1. What I’m really craving is nutrients.

Cravings aren’t a bad thing, they’re a signal. They tell us we need something. Most often what we need is just good, old fashioned nutrients. What we interpret as a desire for sugar or carbohydrates is our body asking for better nutrition.

When I go too long without eating or don’t eat enough fruit, veggies, healthy fat, and protein, I cave to cravings.

How to beat the craving:

Eat regular, nutrient-dense meals. Every four to five hours, three times per day. Fill half your plate with low-carb veggies, add a palm-sized serving of protein, a small drizzle of healthy fat (e.g. olive oil), and one serving of starchy carbs (eg baked sweet potato).

When you get the vitamins, minerals, protein, and fat you need, the cravings melt away.

2. I’m craving out of habit.

When I watch TV, I eat. When I hang out with friends, I eat. When I’m lonely, I eat. When I’m tired, I eat.

When I do my bookkeeping or make a grocery run, I eat.

Sometimes cravings aren’t physical, but emotional. Not hunger, but habit.

How to beat the craving:

Before reaching for popcorn ask if you’re actually hungry. Or if you only want it because you always have it.

If it’s the latter, satisfy that urge with something other than food.

If you’re lonely, call a friend. If you’re sad, watch a sappy movie and cry it out. (Much more comforting than a brownie binge, trust me).

If you must have something to keep your mouth busy, sip some of your favorite tea.

3. My blood sugar is wacky.

(Yes, that’s the technical term.)

Insulin is the hormone that manages blood sugar. When you overload on sugar and refined carbohydrates, insulin levels rise.  High insulin is a factor in weight gain and hormone imbalance, and when reduced it lowers cravings.

Your cravings may not be for nutrients or comfort, but the result of an insulin roller-coaster.

How to beat the craving:

Eat less sugar and refined carbs. Focus on protein, fat, and fiber-rich foods (which balance blood sugar).

Also, a note for my low-carb buddies:

Low-carb or Paleo diets are a beautiful way to balance blood sugar and kick cravings. But too-low carb, for too long, can also cause insulin issues. If you’ve seen energy and weight loss plateau, you need to add more fiber-and-nutrient-rich carbs. Root vegetables, fruit, and – occasionally – gluten-free grains are my favorites.

Let me know which cravings you can relate to! What are your most frequent (or weirdest, I love weirdest) cravings?

Wishing you the best of health,

 

2 Comments

  1. Amanda Paulo

    I get dairy cravings where all of a sudden my body is like “dairy-now!” It is so weird. I also get starch cravings which usually end up with me spending an hour or more on homemade fries or hash browns as an afternoon snack.

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