Food cravings. We all get them. I remember a couple of years ago when I was following a strict diet I would get the worst cravings for sweets. I could barely make it through the day without wanting to reach for something sweet. I chewed gum, drank sugar free drinks and coffee to try and combat it. I even drank pickle juice once when I was craving something salty. This lead to guilty feelings around food and labelling certain foods as "good" or "bad". These days things are a little bit different. Read on for my top tips for managing your cravings.
My Top 5 Tips for Managing Food Cravings:
1. Balance blood sugar levels. This one is probably the biggest one I see with clients. Too many carbs and not enough protein and healthy fats can cause an imbalance in blood sugar levels and increased cravings. Always aim to eat protein, a complex carbohydrate like oatmeal, quinoa or sweet potatoes and a healthy fat fat each meal and snack. This keeps you feeling more satiated and not wanting to reach for a second cup of coffee or chocolate in the afternoon. This is especially important at breakfast.
2. Be prepared. When you are hungry and unprepared it is easy just to grab something that might not be the best choice. Batch cook a few staples at the beginning of the week. I always have quinoa, chicken or salmon and lots of veggies cut up so it's fast and easy to throw together. I always have my favourite hummus and a few protein balls on hand as well for when hunger strikes.
3. Indulge in moderation and avoid going on restrictive diets. Restricting foods or makes you want those foods even more! All foods are okay in moderation. In fact I encourage indulging one or two times per week. Learn how to be satisfied with a smaller amount of your favourite foods. I always follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of your diet should be made up of clean, whole foods and the remaining 20% for your favourite treats and foods. Remember, healthy eating is not perfect eating. Some of my favourite treats for combating my sweet tooth are my healthy hot chocolate, turmeric mylk latte, a couple pieces of good quality dark chocolate or some chai tea. When the salty craving hits I usually like whole grain chips with salsa or hummus, popcorn with coconut oil and sea salt or tamari almonds.
4. Make sure your meal has all the different tastes in it. In Ayurvedic practices they believe in order to combat sugar cravings your meals should have 6 different tastes incorporated into them: salty, sweet, sour, pungent, astringent and bitter. So try adding sea salt, apple cider vinegar, fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi and pickled foods to your meals. I've noticed if I make a big salad with protein, healthy fats from avocado or nuts, some fruit like a pear or apple for sweetness and apple cider vinegar make for the perfect meal. I usually have sugar cravings after lunch or dinner but find with this combo I am completely satisfied.
5. Try supplementing with omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium or chromium. These nutrients help your body metabolize carbohydrates better and manage insulin levels. If you struggle with insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome, these may be helpful. Make sure to chat with a practitioner before taking supplements to make sure they are right for you.
Let me know how you handle your food cravings. Leave a comment below!
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