What to do when cravings feel out of control
I’m all about food, the appearance because we eat with our eyes first, the texture, and the pics of my food, hello! Have you seen my Instagram recently?, making my fake bakes for Heavens to Betsy Bakery (I’ll save that for another post), and did I mention taste?
Two of the most common reasons we choose to eat something are taste and cravings. As a certified nutrition, health, and life coach, I specialize in helping women overcome emotional eating. Part of the process is discovering which foods trigger food cravings and then following some simple steps to eat without turning to food to cope.
Here are 10 ways to deal with food cravings when you are feeling stressed or out of control.
- Avoid your triggers: The reality is that you crave what you eat, so as you make healthier choices, your old cravings will weaken. Certain situations can sabotage your weight loss efforts. For example, going to the movies can ignite your brain’s emotional memory centers and make you feel like you need an extra-large tub of popcorn whether you are physically hungry or not.
- Balance your blood sugar: Research studies indicate that low blood sugar levels are associated with lower overall blood flow to the brain, which can jeopardize your ability to make good decisions. Keep your blood sugar stable and eat a nutritious breakfast with protein such as eggs, protein shake, or nut butter.
- Eliminate sugar, artificial sweeteners, and refined carbs: It’s best to go cold turkey. Eliminate refined sugars, sodas, fruit juices, and artificial sweeteners from your diet as these can trigger cravings. Many doctors believe that sugar is the primary cause of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
- Eat SLOW carb, not LOW carb: Eat carbohydrates that do not spike your blood sugar. Choose high fiber carbs that keep you fuller longer and help reduce your sugar cravings. You can increase your fiber intake by eating vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains.
- Drink more Water: Sometimes, hunger is disguised as dehydration. When you are dehydrated, your body will increase your hunger level in an attempt to get more water to rehydrate. Try drinking a glass of water before your meals to make you feel fuller to moderate your food intake.
- Make protein 25% of your plate: Protein fills you up and keeps you satisfied longer. It also regulates your blood sugar, and it makes your body release appetite-suppressing hormones.
- Manage your stress: Stress triggers hormones that activate cravings. Chronic stress has been associated with obesity, addiction, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and cancer. Adopt a daily stress management program that includes deep breathing exercises, meditation, prayer, and other relaxation techniques.
- Follow the 90/10 Rule: Give your body what it needs but also give it grace. Eating foods that nourish your body will make you feel fantastic, so aim to eat these food choices 90% of the time and allow yourself a 10% margin for foods that fall outside of those that make you feel your best. This way, you won’t feel deprived, and you will avoid bingeing.
- Get moving: Research shows that physical activity can curb cravings. Plan out your exercise for the week and schedule it on your calendar. Make the commitment to yourself just like any other important meeting or appointment.
- Get 7+ hours of sleep per night: Sleep deprivation can increase cravings. And, if you are struggling with your weight or often feel sluggish or tired during the day, it may be due to lack of sleep. Proper digestion and good decision making are both dependant on getting good, quality sleep each night.
Another essential step in curbing cravings is setting up your environment for success. The first step after identifying your trigger foods (if you need help on how to do this part, click here) is to swap out foods in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer by cleaning out anything that is not serving you well. This means reading labels, checking expiration dates, tossing out your trigger foods, and then refilling with nutritious foods that won’t send you into a tailspin.
If you want more help with understanding your food cravings, why you have them, and how to satisfy them, sign up below for my FREE 5-day email series called Understanding Food Cravings.