16 Feb 7 Easy Ways To De-construct Unhealthy Food Cravings
As a Nutrition expert, one of the questions I am most frequently asked is “How do I get rid of my food cravings?”
There is no direct answer to this as each person is different – their physical needs , vitamin requirements, lifestyle , body composition is totally unique. In general , food cravings can stem from many things such as stress, hormones, dehydration, lack of sleep , nutrient deficiencies etc.
It is important to understand that our body intelligence goes way beyond of what we think of it – it makes no mistakes , heart constantly beats, kidney , liver are always at work no matter how badly we overload it. Thus, its essential to be observant and understand the craving -the apt question one should be asking themselves is “What is the craving telling me?”
Since craving is your body’s way of telling you that something is missing, understanding these signals, will not only help you de-construct your cravings, but it will also help you to make conscious healthy choices towards nourishing your body .
Here is a list of 7 easy ways through which you can de-construct your food cravings and put an end to your unhealthy eating habits.
#1. Don’t Skip Meals
Eating at regular intervals is very important as it helps you to maintain your blood sugar levels. When you skip meals, your blood sugar level drops leading to food cravings, especially sugary stuff.
So what can you do about it?
Instead of reaching for a cookie or other sweet treats , try eating fruits and increase intake of sweet vegetables like carrot and sweet potato.
Since fruits contain fructose as well as glucose (which is needed to maintain a healthy blood sugar level), they not only make a satisfying snack, but they also provide you with other nutrients, thereby helping you to form a healthy eating habit.
#2. Pay Attention To What You Crave
By paying attention to your body’s hunger cues, you’ll be able to respond to it smartly, rather than giving into your food cravings.
For instance, if you are constantly reaching for coffee, it means that your body needs energy. When you are aware of this, next time when you reach for coffee, you have a choice, you can either drink coffee to boost your energy or try other healthier alternatives such as Green tea or Licorice tea.
Thus, it is only when you learn to understand your food cravings, would be able to defeat it and would become more of an intuitive eater.
#3. Don’t Deprive Yourself
Depriving yourself will only cause frustration. The more you forbid yourself from eating a particular thing, the more you (not your body), will crave for it.
For instance, you crave chocolate because it is the best and I know that nothing can satisfy a chocolate craving, but chocolate.
But, instead of eating milk chocolate, try dark chocolate. Similarly you can always substitute the craving for ice-cream with a bowl of Greek yoghurt mixed with berries.
To put it simply strike a balance, because depriving yourself the joy of eating will not produce any result.
#4. Keep Yourself Hydrated
Dehydration makes you feel hungry which may kick up your cravings. The most common craving you experience when your body is dehydrated is the craving for fizzy beverages such as cola or soda. But indulging in it can be counter-productive as these drinks are laden with sugar, caffeine & other chemicals which may leave your body with insufficient water.
What can you do about it?
Make sure that you are drinking about half your body weight (lbs) in ounces of water daily, i.e. if your weight is 100 lbs, you should be drinking 50 ounces of water a day. You could also experiment with organic herbal teas to stay hydrated.
#5. Keep Healthy Food Options on Hand
One of the best ways to avoid the temptation of eating junk food, is to always keep healthy food options in hand. Since any number of reasons can set off a food craving, having a healthy option nearby, can help you to satisfy a craving with a healthier substitute.
For example, keep nuts, oatmeal bars , protein bars at work and fruits, veggie sticks, yoghurt in your fridge, so that when you want to indulge you can do it in a healthier way.
#6. Sleep Well To De-Stress
Stress is the major reason for most cravings. When you are stressed, you’re drawn to unhealthy food, which results in gaining more weight over time.
But rather than indulging in mindless munching to help you feel relax and happy, go for a walk or exercise.
By doing so you are boosting your serotonin levels, which helps you to de-stress your body and mind, thereby helping you to get a restful sleep at night. And as we all know, a restful sleep is an essential key to staying healthy, strong and stress-free.
#7. Variety Is The Spice Of Life
A healthy diet doesn’t have to be boring. It doesn’t mean that you have to eat only salads and give up everything else. It is important to eat a variety of foods so that you don’t get bored, always opt for fresh seasonal real foods. Balance is the key to overall well being.
For example, if you are bored with veggies, try a whole wheat bread egg sandwich. If plain fruit isn’t sweet enough, try drizzling it with honey.
In short, the simple way to beat craving is to devise a healthy, varied & well-balanced diet, that will make your body feel great.
In a Nutshell , once you start eating a well balanced diet automatically cravings go down. The trick is to start listening to your body and understand what its trying to convey . Health is all about being empowered with knowledge , making the best choices that you can , going easy on yourself , and doing the best you can from day to day living.