Wednesday, January 20, 2016

11 Ways to Tame Your Cravings

The kids are finally put to bed, and you have just put on your jammies, when it hits. The cravings are back, and this time you want a large bowl of cookies and crème ice cream. The freezer and pantry seem to be calling your name. It is the attack of the annoying cravings. They come often, and are not good for your health or weight loss goals. How can you possibly tame your cravings?! Here are 11 ways to keep lessen or kick yours to the curb.


1.    Balance your blood sugar: Low blood sugar raises cortisol levels. Raised levels cause you to crave sugary, fatty, and salty foods. To keep your blood sugar stable, eat a healthy breakfast with protein such as eggs, toast topped with nut butters, or a protein shake. Eat at regular intervals and always have some sort of protein with each snack.
2.   Avoid the triggers: As you make healthier choices, your old cravings will start to lessen but certain situations can be triggers for those cravings and hurt your weight loss efforts. Identify the people, places, and things that may trigger your cravings and plan ahead to avoid making an unhealthy choice.
 
 
3.   Never leave home without a healthy snack: Traveling, shopping, and running errands can increase chances of ordering fast food, skipping meals, or falling prey to the sweet aroma of Cinnabon. Choose foods made with real ingredients to energize and fill you up until meal time. On-the-go high-protein snacks such as portable peanut butter, a handful of nuts, a "healthy" or homemade protein bar, string cheese, or a protein shake can help you feel full and satisfied. Better yet, have a snack before you even leave the house. Hummus with veggies and pita bread, half a sandwich, or some Greek yogurt are great options.
4.   Eat SLOW carbs, not low carb: Carbohydrates are good for you, but not all are created equal. Eat carbohydrates that do not spike your blood sugar such as complex carbs/high fiber foods (fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains) with a low glycemic level. They are absorbed slowly and gradually release glucose. Simple carbohydrates found in refined flour or bread products and candy is utilized quickly. Glucose is released at a much faster rate and will send you on a sugar roller coaster.
 
 
5.   Drink more water: Sometimes when you are hungry, you may actually be dehydrated. When you are dehydrated, your body will increase your hunger level to get your body to rehydrate. Try drinking a glass of water before each meal and often throughout the day.
6.   Make protein 25% of your diet: Protein fills you up and keeps you satisfied longer. It also regulates your blood sugar and triggers your body to release appetite-suppressing hormones. The  Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 10-35% . Aim for at least 25%. Protein needs can be higher for active people and vegetarians.
7.   Manage your stress: Stress triggers hormones such as cortisol which activate cravings. Adopt a stress management program that includes deep breathing exercises, prayer, exercise, journaling, or other relaxation practices.
8.   Follow the 80/20 rule. Give yourself a break. Make good food choices most of the time, but enjoy your favorite foods on occasion and in moderation so that you do not feel deprived. This will help keep you from binging and regret later on.
9.   Get Moving: Being active is good for your physical and emotional well-being, especially for emotional eaters. Physical activity is a great stress reliever, and keeps cortisol in check. It helps you focus and clear your head which can help lessen or get rid of cravings.


10.  Make sweet substitutions: If you’re craving something sweet, try reaching for fruit with fiber or try a protein shake. Try baking an apple, then sprinkle it with cinnamon and drizzle with agave nectar. 
11. Change it Up: Try some new healthier recipes or try substituting ingredients in your recipes. Substitute unsweetened applesauce/avocado for butter/oil. Play around with alternatives to sugar such a agave nectar, monk fruit, stevia, or coconut sugar.

Most importantly, remember to take one day at a time. Allow your self grace. Each day is a new day. Try journaling how you feel when you are craving certain foods (e.g salty, sugary, or fattening). Certain experiences, emotions, stressors, people, or memories can trigger cravings. Journaling is a great way to help figure those triggers out, and help you plan for future cravings or have healthier options.

You got this! - Michelle

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