This is something I struggle with. Who doesn’t, right?
But there are things that we can do to preemptively get in front of cravings and kill them head-on before they even start to rear their ugly heads. Here’s 5 really easy behaviors you can adopt to tackle cravings and not rely so much on willpower, which we now know is fleeting - especially when we’re tired. And tired seems to be our default mode these days. We can fix that too. Read on.
Be mindful of your cravings when they come up.
Take a moment and think about when you get a craving. For me, I crave something sweet after dinner. Once you know when these things typically come up for you, the battle is half won.
Create your preemptive strike
Now that I know I’ll be craving something sweet post dinner I can decide how I want to handle it. I can:
A) give in
B) muscle though the craving or
C) put a healthy or non-destructive option in front of myself.
In my case, I have a couple of bites of a Quest bar and I’m good to go. I don’t need the whole thing as I”m not hungry, I’m just craving something sweet and a few bites of a bar seems to do the trick.
Divert the craving
Another time I have cravings is right around 6pm. We don’t typically eat until 7pm, so I’m getting really hungry an hour before dinner time and I’m raiding the fridge for food. But, I’ve found that if I have a protein shake around 4pm, the satiety factor of that shake will take me right through to 7pm and beyond. Protein is a powerful tool, not just for satiety (feeling full) but also for managing cravings.
Avoid sugar and reduce carbs
These two things create the insulin ride that your blood can’t seem to get off. You have sugar, you spike. Once you digest that sugar, you crash and then cravings start all over again from there. Stop the cycle - don’t eat sugar or starchy carbs (sorry, but that typically means most fruits, too).
There are two hormones that sleep holds the controls to, and if you mess with them, you’ll be a carb craving crazy person all day long. Get your Z’z’s!! If you sleep well, you won’t be so chronically tired and craving chips, bread and all things crunchy and salty. Sleep is not only the best thing you can do for fat loss, it’s the fountain of youth. This is no joke.
One final note on avoiding cravings
Very often cravings for things are biological reactions to lack of appropriate nutrients in our diet. Your body will often tell you if it needs something. For example if you find you’re craving steak you might be low in iron or protein, just like craving bananas could indicate a deficiency in potassium (although bananas are not a great food choice if you’re avoiding sugar). Eat a well balanced diet of whole foods and avoid sugars and starchy carbs. That will be your best bet to keeping weird cravings at bay.