Cravings are Messages!
Happy Monday! How’s everyone?
I'm back from a jam packed week with Adidas Running in Portland and ready to get back into routine!
I will definitely do a separate blog post about my trip but today I want to talk about something that every single one of us has experienced—CRAVINGS!
First off, what is a craving & what is it telling us?
Usually we have cravings for junk food (sweet, salty, or bad fats), a.k.a. stuff that isn’t the most nutritious. My personal cravings is 100% for sweet things.
Sweet cravings are common because sugar releases a feel-good chemical (dopamine) in your body that makes you reach for more. Not only that, but it spikes up your blood sugar and then crashes. These crashes lead to us wanting more sugar or thinking we NEED it which makes you crave it again and again. It’s a vicious cycle, right?!
What I keep learning from my health coach classes is this: Your body is a super computer. Just think about it! Your eyes will water when there's something in it because it's trying to flush it out. It keeps a temperature of 98.7 at all times to keep you safe. Your heart doesn't miss a beat. It KNOWS what it's doing. So when it's craving something...it's telling you something.
Cravings are messages. It happens when your body is out of balance, lacking in nutrients or minerals. So instead of reaching for the bag of chips or sour worms, WAIT and try some of my favorite tips first.
Stop and ask yourself these questions: Did I drink enough water today? Did I have at least 6 servings of veggies? Did I have fruit? Did I eat enough protein? Have I been sleeping well? Have I been stressed at work?
For me, I crave naughty foods when my nutrition is off balance or when I'm hormonal. Either I haven't had enough protein or I'm not eating enough greens. You have to figure out what you’re lacking and maintain that balance! So pay close attention.
Question yourself until you find out what good things your body is missing, and then work towards giving it that!
A smarter way to overcome cravings is knowing WHAT you crave and finding an alternative. For example, whole fruit bars vs. ice cream, dates vs. candy, seaweed vs. popcorn, you get the picture. Try finding similar texture and taste to what you crave and swap it for something similar but healthier.
It also helps to go through your pantry and replace all junk foods with better-for-you complex carbs (whole grains, lentils, oatmeal, peas, sweet potatoes). Fill your fridge with fresh veggies & fruits. Also, learn how to cook healthy alternatives so you can pre-make the good stuff and be able to grab it right when a craving hits! Pre cut fruit or veggie juices are great to prep in advance.
Making good habits
I also like to create good habits around food. Like when I feel I need something sweet after dinner, I'll make a cup of tea with honey instead, or if that isn’t enough, I’ll have fruit. Basically, I’m curbing my habits but still giving into what my body wants.
Habits take about 2 weeks to break if you’re really working at it, so by finding alternatives for a couple weeks, you’ll actually rewire (!) your brain into making better decisions.
Fiber from veggies & fruit. These are low in calories and fiber tells your brain it’s full. Double win!
Complex carbs (whole grains, lentils, oatmeal, peas, sweet potatoes) because processed carbs (white flour, bread, instant rice) spike up blood sugar and leave you wanting more.
Protein. You’ll feel full longer because your stomach takes longer to digest. That stabilizes blood sugars and keeps cravings at bay! Protein is also absorbed in the presence of fat. Try adding peanut butter to your protein smoothie to see if that helps cravings.
Frequently! This helps in maintaining blood sugar levels so pack those snacks!
OK, BUT ALSO…
I travel a lot, and though I do a good job at bringing/choosing healthy options, I also don’t want to say “no” to different cuisines or yummy snacks ... aka THE BEST DONUTS I've ever tried in PORTLAND. So have a cheat meal once or twice a week! It's not going to ruin your progress and you should enjoy what you want to eat! : ) It's all a balance.
That’s it for today! I've gotten a lot of questions on fighting cravings, so I hope these tips are helpful to some of you! If you want me to cover anything else on the blog, just pop me a comment below. Love ya!