How to Combat “The Dreaded Food Cravings”

by: Vicky Reihana on

 

food cravings

What Are Cravings?

Cravings. That dreaded and overwhelming urge to eat, drink or consume something that perhaps we shouldn’t.  We’ve all experienced cravings at some point, and usually they raise their ugly head when we are at our most vulnerable.

A craving for food, beverage or drug that we know is not in our best interest to consume is most commonly experienced when we are hungry, tired, emotional or stressed.  Unfortunate as it may be, cravings are inevitable, and especially so when we are at our weakest. So, how then can we prevent or combat cravings, so we don’t cave in and eat, drink or consume ourselves silly – only to regret it afterwards?  It seems that we could all benefit from a Craving Back Up Plan!

Combatting Cravings.

I hear the stronger of us shouting “Use your willpower!”  Well, that’s fine and dandy, but seriously, when I’m at my weakest, when I’ve had a bad day, a stressful week, a bout of illness, a sleepless night or a stressful experience, the chocolate, comfort food and alcohol starts to look pretty good.  I’m afraid, that even for the strongest of us, sometimes willpower is just not always enough.  So what else is there to prevent me from slipping from my good intentions?  What’s my craving back up plan?

Will power will generally only get you so far with cravings.  Some people can last weeks and resist the temptation to ‘fall from grace’ and give in to junk food, alcohol or whatever else your temptations are.  For most of us, the temptation to give in to sweets, fatty or salty food, junk and cravings in general lasts only a few minutes before we cave in.  Is it just that we are weak? Could there be an easy way to avoid giving in to the voice in our heads that tells us “Just a little won’t hurt.”

Understanding Cravings.

The problem is not only the effects of the junk food on our bodies, it wreaks havoc with our mind too.  After we’ve given in to cravings, and we know that our good intentions have been slaughtered in a moment of weakness, we can be left feeling defeated, guilty and even ashamed.  How is it that yummy food can be so … evil?  How can food and temptation have such power over our minds and bodies?  We need a back up plan so that we avoid the junk food destruction to our bodies and the guilt trip on our minds after we’ve submitted to our cravings.

Well, I’m a fitness and health fanatic who is very conscious of what I put into my body and …. Yes, in the past, even I have submitted to cravings more than I care to admit.  It’s important for me to tell you right now, that you should never think giving in to your cravings as a sign of weakness.  It’s far better to think of your cravings as a signal from your body.  When you experience a craving, it is your body trying to send you a message.   It’s important that you don’t just ignore cravings, because generally your body is trying to tell you that you are deficient in something and that you could feel better if you address the craving.  Don’t be fooled, addressing a craving does not mean giving in and pigging out on the wrong foods.

Reasons For Cravings. What’s Your Body Trying To Tell You?

Nutrient Deficiency

Have you ever wondered why you can eat a massive fast food meal, only to be left feeling hungry again just a short time afterward?  How is it possible we can easily eat half a tub or more of ice-cream in one sitting and then regret it later? These processed foods which we often crave are high in sugar, saturated fats and chemicals that your body simply cannot recognise.  Junk foods are nutrient deficient and lacking in very important macro and micronutrients that your body needs to feel full and satisfied.  So, when we binge or ‘pig out’ on junk foods, then our body is left feeling unsatisfied and often wanting more.

In this instance, a craving could be triggered by our need to consume more wholesome foods which are nutrient rich, rather than filling up on deficient and lacking foods.

Emotional Deficiency

Feelings of sadness, loneliness, depression, anger and lack of fulfillment in any aspect of our lives and at any time, can send many of us straight to the fridge, pantry or shop in search of something which will allow us to ‘comfort eat.’ Comfort eating is when we eat junk food in an attempt to feel better.  While we might enjoy the snack while we’re eating it, when the snack is gone and we’re left with a rumbling tummy and a guilty conscience – we’re often left feeling emptier than ever, both emotionally and in a health sense.

Take note of when you’re not feeling so good.  During these times, it’s important to remember that we all experience ups and downs, and that exercise, socialising (get moving, get talking – do something different), communication and or rest will always be far more beneficial than gorging ourselves on unhealthy food options.  If you get cravings when you’re feeling down, take it as a sign from your body that you need a lifestyle or circumstance change, rather than a sugar or fat intake.

Being prepared for when cravings hit will keep you on track with your health and goals put a stop to unwanted weight gain, giving you a sense of control over your life, diet, lifestyle and wellbeing.  A back up plan to combat cravings will give you more control over your own diet and lifestyle decisions and leave you feeling good about yourself and your self control, rather than being absorbed by unhealthy eating decisions and guilt attacks.

What’s My Craving Back Up Plan?

Its 7pm on a Thursday night, you have worked out consistently all week. Finished a nourishing well-balanced meal, settled down on the couch and that urge to have something sweet creeps in.   Damn!  That always happens doesn’t it? You’re comfy and full.  You really don’t need anything else in your belly, but one bite of something sweet wouldn’t hurt would it?  It might help you relax you try to tell yourself.   STOP!  This is your craving talking, not your common sense, and you know it!

The key to beating cravings is availability and ease of healthy options.  You need to know that when the dreaded cravings hit, you have something healthy, yummy and fulfilling on hand and available.  You need to know what is healthy and what is good for your body – and you have to be able to prepare it quickly so it’s not a chore.

Think about all the healthy snack options you can put in your fridge, pantry or handbag or cupboard at work – and when the snack attack cravings hit – slam them with a healthy alternative.

Here’s Some Healthy Craving Back Up Options

·      Protein Smoothie

·      Chia Pudding

·      Protein Bliss Ball

·      Frozen Blueberries topped with Coconut Cream

·      Raw Muesli

·      Dark Chocolate at least 60% cacao

·       Raw Nuts like cashews and almonds

·      Dash of Apple Cider vinegar in a glass of water

Important note: Cravings can hit when you are dehydrated. Make sure you are getting approximately 2 liters of water a day

My Favourite Craving Buster Snack Attack.

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Protein Smoothie

Here’s an option – try a Whey Protein Smoothie.  A what?  A Whey Protein Smoothie.  It’s sweet, fulfilling, takes a little while to drink so it’s more than an instant hit and it really is going to tick all the boxes in satisfying those cravings. What’s more, it’s healthy and guilt free! I love nothing more than blending up a Creamy Chocolate Smoothie. If chocolate isn’t your thing go for a Berry or Mango Smoothie and you’ll satisfy your fruit intake for the day at the same time.

Nothing beats my healthy and delicious Whey Smoothie Craving Cracker Recipe.

Here’s the benefits and even the famous recipe – so you no longer have any excuses right?

Whey Protein Benefits

  • Satisfies hunger, leaves you feeling full for hours.
  • Regulates blood sugars
  • Protein suppresses the hormone cortisol
  • Protein is also known to enhance the feel good hormones serotonin and dopamine

Whatever your lifestyle, whatever you crave, you can come up with a craving back up plan to combat those dreaded yearnings for the wrong foods.  Remember, that a healthy lifestyle and diet can all be thrown out the window just by snacking on the wrong foods and giving in to cravings.  While it may seem tricky, anyone can implement a craving back up plan and anyone can overcome cravings.

There is hope.  You can overcome cravings, just by listening to what your body is telling you and by implementing your own craving back up plan menu at home and while you work and play.  So get researching, get into the health isles in your supermarket or whole-foods store, get the junk out of your home – and get the healthy, wholesome foods into your body.

Today is the day to slam those cravings –

If you have any questions regarding your Craving Back Up Plan, feel free to contact me for more information and advice.  Here’s to eating healthy and slamming those damned cravings once and for all!

Vicky