Tame That Craving!
How amazing is our body! Your heart never misses a beat and your lungs are always breathing. It knows when to go to sleep, when to wake up, and when to go to the loo. It maintains a constant temperature, repairs and re-news itself constantly and knows the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth. The body is a super-computer, and it never makes mistakes.
Look at the foods, deficits and behaviours in your life that are the underlying causes of your cravings. Many people view cravings as weakness, but really they are important messages meant to assist you in maintaining balance. When you experience a craving, ask yourself, what does my body need and why?
Cravings can be hard to deal with and can impact your commitment to eating healthily. Often, cravings are due to habit such as; 4pm afternoon blood sugar drop or feeling like we desperately need something sweet after a meal. Whether it is unstable blood sugar levels, stress, emotional comfort or certain nutrient deficiencies. Whatever the reason may be for cravings, there are some simple ways to reduce them and perhaps beat them once and for all.
Here are my personal craving busters that really, really work:
- Protein at every meal. Protein balances our blood sugar, stabilising macro nutrients, and gives us a steady flow of energy all day. It is essential not to skip this life saver.
- Quality Fat at every meal. Good fats are very satiating- meaning they keep you full for long and therefore diminish cravings. Great examples: avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, ghee and organic butter.
- Drink water. Sometimes sweet cravings are a sign of dehydration. Before you go for the sugar hit, have a glass of water and wait a few minutes to see what happens. Lack of water can send the message that you are thirsty and on the verge of dehydration. Dehydration can manifest as a mild hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a craving is drink a full glass of water.
- Eat sweet vegetables and fruit. They are naturally sweet, healthy and delicious. This can assist with sugar craving. Best to have fruit in the morning, to limit afternoon cravings.
- Reduce caffeine. The ups and downs of caffeine include dehydration and blood sugar swings, and may cause sugar cravings to become more frequent. Stop at 1-2 cups a day.
- Use small amounts of natural sweetener. Avoid chemicalized, artificial sweeteners and foods with added sugar. Use gentle sweeteners like maple syrup, brown rice syrup, dried fruit, stevia.
- Move your body. Start with simple activities like walking or yoga. Start with 10 minutes a day and gradually increase. Being active helps balance blood sugar levels, boosts energy, and reduces tension which will eliminate the need to self-medicate with sugar! Having an inappropriate exercise routine, ie. too much, too little or the wrong kind can all affect cravings.
- Get more sleep, rest and relaxation. Simple carbohydrates, such as sugar, are the most readily usable forms of energy for an exhausted body and mind. If you are in a chronic state of stress and/or sleep deprivation, your body will crave the quickest form of energy there is: sugar.
- 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon juice in salads or meals or in water bottle assist with cravings.
- Eliminate fat-free or low-fat foods. These foods contain high quantities of sugar to compensate for lack of flavour and fat, which will send you on the roller-coaster ride of sugar highs and lows.
- Experiment with spices. Coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom will naturally sweeten your foods and reduce cravings.
- Lack of nutrients. If the body has inadequate nutrients, it will produce odd cravings. For example, inadequate mineral levels produce salt cravings, and overall inadequate nutrition produces cravings for non-nutritional forms of energy, like caffeine.
- Hormones. When women experience menstruation, pregnancy or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause unique cravings. For example, craving Magnesium.
- Slow down and find sweetness in non-food ways! Every craving is not a signal that your body biologically requires sugar. Cravings often have a psychological component. Being bored, stressed, uninspired by a job, or lacking a spiritual practice may all cause emotional eating. Eating can be used as a substitute for entertainment or to fill the void. By identifying the psychological causes of food cravings and substituting lifestyle and relationship adjustments accordingly, you can begin to find balance and take charge of your health. When life becomes sweet enough itself, no additives are needed! For these kinds of cravings, increase self care; for example, have a massage, take a bath with Epsom salts or catch some sunshine.
All of our posts reflect our philosophy at A Healthy View www.ahealthyview. A whole real food perspective on food and life. Extremes do not work but clean, whole, tasty and easy food choices can create a lifetime of good habits that lead to a lean, happy, and healthy person. Contact us on our website for our next Low Sugar Lifestyle program or a nutritional consult.
Article by Simone Kopkas
Adapted from an Institute For Integrative Nutrition article.