How To Curb Cravings For Unhealthy Foods
AUTHOR: Cassie Amber (Nutritionist)
Do you often experience cravings for caffeine, sugar and processed foods? This can be related to many different things such as our hormones, influence from other people in our life, lack of sleep, stress and more. It can be a vicious cycle.
Whilst trying to eliminate these cravings, it's also important to ask ourselves why we have them in the first place. That way we can fix the source of the problem rather than 'masking it' until we fall back into the trap again.
- Understand that your body is trying to tell you something -
I find my energy often crashes around 3pm, especially if I've been working on a computer all day. It's at this time I'm also the most effective if I choose to hit the gym! After sitting for hours on end concentrating, then fueling up with lunch, my body LOOOVES a good weights session or even the odd hike if I have time and it's a nice day.
Sometimes I grab a piece of chocolate for a little pick-me-up, but if you over do it on sweets or caffeine, it can often result in a crash.
Choose healthy sustainable snacks such as a banana and nuts, a fruit smoothie, celery with hummus, carrots with peanut butter or dates! Opt for natural whole-foods for a slow release of energy instead of a short-term high. Or get up and get your body moving!
- Focus on eating more of the good stuff instead of avoiding the bad -
If you load up on food your body loves such as large amounts of greens or salad, protein and fats, it can help keep hunger and cravings at bay. If you feel fuller for longer and actually satisfied, you won't have the same level of cravings for greasy/fatty/sugary/processed food.
Focus on what you can add in and how you can cram as may nutrients into your day, rather than a restrictive mindset.
- You can't be tempted by what's not in front of you -
Okay we all get the odd craving for our favourite treats, but are you as likely to want it and be eyeing it up if it wasn't in your pantry in the first place? It's okay to buy treats at the supermarket, but ask yourself if it's a 'necessity' or are you just feeling hungry and tired while you're at the store? Keep ready-made sliced fruit and veggies in your fridge so it's the first thing you reach for when snacking.
- Stop being hard on yourself and ruling out certain foods all together -
I'm a firm believer that when we tell ourselves we can't have something, we act like a child who wants a toy that's been taken off them. It's all we can think about and we won't stop until we stuff our face with it to feel satisfied.
My first option is to try and make a healthier version of it at home. Say salted caramel slice made from whole-foods, triple protein vegan oreo cheesecake, or cake batter bliss balls. If the cravings still persist, I look at my lifestyle - am I feeling sleep deprived? Is something out of balance? If cravings still persist, THEN I just eat and and enjoy every bite of whatever it is I'm craving. Sometimes our bodies need it!
- Learn about yourself -
What are your triggers? Are you doing this out of habit? Emotions? Unsure how to break the cycle? For example, try packing your lunch for work instead of buying it every day?
All it takes is making it past the first step. Find that recipe. Learn how to cook it. Book in that exercise class. Get support from others around you or even online friends.