How to overcome cravings
How to Overcome Cravings
It is important to understand WHY you are having cravings before delving into a plan of action on how to overcome cravings. In working with hundreds of people over the years I have found several common themes among those with the most overwhelming cravings. In our effort to lose weight and reach our idea of the ideal body we restrict, follow menu plans, diet regimes, restrictive eating plans and intense workout routines in an effort to achieve that ever elusive perfect body.
It seems the more you exercise and eat the ‘perfect’ diet the more to battle with cravings. I am here to tell you the most important thing about your cravings….
Your Cravings Are NOT the Problem!
Yes, you read that right, your cravings are not the problem, in fact your body is so beautifully designed that it has cravings for a purpose. Fighting cravings and trying all these ridiculous tips and tricks to overcome cravings like drink a glass of water or distract yourself are NEVER going to work. Cravings serve a very healthy purpose and until you remedy the problem the cravings will continue relentlessly. The more you fight back, the stronger and more uncontrollable those cravings are going to become. It is time to stop the food fight and overcome food cravings by working with your body rather than against it. Most articles on how to overcome cravings give you distraction techniques or tell you to eat healthier or avoid any semblance of the food you crave FOREVER and eventually your body won’t crave it anymore. This is NOT true!
I had terrible sugar cravings, uncontrollable at times, I tried eating fruit, I even went 5 weeks 100% sugar free only to get so sick of the craving that I gave in and ended up in a binge fest with sugar for weeks! If five weeks wasn’t enough to calm the sugar dragon I don’t have the strength to fight food longer than that honestly. What if it isn’t the food that is the problem? What if it isn’t the sugar or the bread that is the problem?
Your DIET is the problem!
The number one cause of cravings is DIETING! You might not think you are ‘on a diet.’ You may believe that you are trying to eat healthy but in reality your body doesn’t know the term ‘diet’. It is all deprivation of crucial macro-nutrients your body NEEDS!
Example: My husband was an avid triathlete for several years and he would tell me that after a long triathlon he CRAVED a burger, fries, and an oreo shake like crazy! Why would his body crave food that was not ‘healthy’ for him? The reason is: After hours of extensive calorie expenditure during a race the body is seeking to replenish glycogen stores and obtain adequate calorie intake in relation to the energy expended during the race. A burger, fries and an oreo shake is VERY high in calories and would provide a quick source to replenish what is needed, healthy or not.
As a vegetarian my husband opted for my homemade veggie burgers and a large fruit smoothie after a race. I would carefully calculate his needs and we would prepare high calorie dense, healthier foods to supply him with adequate carbohydrate, fat & protein that his body needed and the cravings then dissipated.
He did NOT need to overcome food cravings! He was having food cravings because his body NEEDED what those foods could provide. When we gave his body what it needed in a healthier way, the cravings went away. This is the key to overcoming cravings, unlock the message your body is sending for what it needs and the cravings will cease.
Whether carbohydrate restriction occurs purposefully or simply due to food restriction or calorie restriction isn’t really important but if carbohydrate consumption remains below levels needed by the body, cravings will intensify over time. When the diet does not supply adequate carbohydrates to maintain blood sugar levels, the body will begin breaking down skeletal proteins in order to supply blood glucose. The body does not shift into some magical state where it no longer needs blood sugar….blood sugar levels must ALWAYS remain between 70-100 mg/dl and if carbohydrate intake is not supplying enough to maintain balance, the body will begin to crave carbohydrates because it NEEDS them.
Skeletal protein breakdown is not an ideal source for blood glucose, it is a back up plan designed for survival in times of food scarcity. If you have been consuming a low carbohydrate diet or eating restricted calories for some time and you are battling cravings for bread, pasta, cookies, or other high carbohydrate or sugary foods, your body is asking for what it NEEDS to function optimally.
If it needs carbohydrates desperately, it is going to ask for the quickest source possible = SUGAR!
Those sugar cravings are actually a good thing! Your body is telling you what it needs.
If you have been a chronic dieter jumping from one diet to another, skipping meals, low carbohydrate, high protein, weighing your food, counting calories it is very likely that your body is fighting back. Losing weight is not necessarily a bad thing but we put our bodies through so much stress with fad diets that cravings begin to surface and they can come with a vengeance!
It is important to lose weight on the HIGHEST amount of calories you can consume while still losing weight consistently.
Cravings will subside when the diet roller coaster stops and you begin eating a balanced diet, regular meals according to your hunger and your body is getting what it needs to function optimally.
#1 Ensure adequate Carbohydrate consumption – The Institute of Medicine Recommends a Minimum of 130 grams per day!
Research has shown that individuals on low carbohydrate diets perform worse on cognitive function, memory, and attention tests than those who are not on low carbohydrate diets. The brain CAN run on ketones but this is a back up plan it is NOT ideal and it is not the brains preferred source of energy. In an effort to conserve precious skeletal muscle the brain shifts to ketones which prolongs life during starvation, but it does not preserve optimal brain function during deprivation of carbohydrates.
#2 Ensure adequate Calorie Consumption during weight loss – Reduce calories by 10-12 calories per pound of body weight
Keep your calorie intake as high as possible during fat loss to preserve lean muscle mass and ensure that metabolic adaptations are minimal. When you reach your ideal weight it may be a good idea to do a mini-reverse diet along with resistance exercise to build up metabolic capacity after a period of dieting. This prevents cravings and allows you to eat a healthy amount of food keeping your feeling emotionally satiated and will help prevent food cravings.
#3 Following a restrictive eating plan and banning your favorite foods!
Trying to be healthy or lose weight is not a bad thing at all….however, it can quickly turn into a restrictive nightmare that leads to dissatisfaction with food, food obsession, constantly thinking about food, cravings, and binge eating. If you have been following a restrictive eating plan that bans your favorite foods while having difficult to manage cravings, the solution is simple: Eat The Foods You Love!
You can make healthier versions of your favorite foods….as long as it satisfies you. I love chocolate chip cookies so I created a recipe with almond butter, maple syrup, applesauce, whole wheat pastry flour, oats and I absolutely LOVE them! The whole point is to LOVE your food. If the food isn’t #soulsatisfying to you the diet you are on is not for you!
Cravings are NOT a bad thing and should not be viewed as something to avoid, overcome or suppress. Instead of asking ‘How to overcome cravings’ you should be asking what your body needs that you are not providing. Dieting and restricting is not a lifestyle, it is not a long term plan for health and vitality. It is a recipe for disaster!
The way to overcome cravings..is to nourish your body and 10% of the time eat #soulsatisfying foods that YOU love without guilt, shame, remorse or rebound restriction.