The subject of food cravings comes up often for those who are trying to lose weight. Is it simply a matter of will power or is there something much more complicated that takes over and guides our food choices?
Will Power Vs. Cravings
Many folks believe that conquering food cravings should be as simple as exercising the will power to do so. But truly, if it were that simple, I do not believe America would be in the middle of such a widespread obesity epidemic. Perhaps food cravings are the result of deeper psychological or biological triggers? And let’s not forget, we are all different – what drives one person to eat certain foods may be completely different than what compels another. Either way, the behavior is the same, so I think this is where behavior modification is extremely key to success, regardless of the reason “why”. I’m not negating the need to discover why, as for many folks food cravings are actually fueled by deep-seeded emotional issues which truly need to be addressed. However, like so many things in life, the battle with food cravings ultimately comes down to “How bad do you want it?” It is not a simple matter of wills as much as as the ability to incorporate certain changes that may provide temporary discomfort or challenge but in the end, ultimately offer the desired results. This can be said of any positive change whether it be the desire to get more physically fit or to graduate from college. For most of us, to live the life we want, it takes persistence and commitment. When it comes to food, what we often overlook is the fact that many food cravings are fueled by very strong yet covert addictions to sugar, artificial ingredients and chemicals (like Nutrasweet), flavor enhancers (like MSG), etc. We can liken food addictions to any other addiction out there…you will not overcome an addiction to alcohol by continuing to drink alcohol, right? Well, you won’t overcome your food addictions and the accompanying food cravings by continuing to consume the same types of foods. I believe in the power of education, as well as the power of a positive attitude, so let’s start there. Rather than automatically resigning yourself to defeat, speak this positive affirmation, “I can successfully overcome food cravings”! With this belief in mind, educate yourself with the following suggestions and attempt to incorporate one of these new changes each week. Very quickly, you will find that many of those nasty food cravings will disappear and you will be on the track to a new, healthier life!
1. Take A Multivitamin
Many cravings are thought to be a sign of nutrient deficiency from our foods. This is as a result of the fact that most Americans live on processed, quick-fix foods, which offer a big punch in calories, but not so much in nutritional nourishment. One simple way to start correcting these deficiencies is to take a basic multivitamin and mineral supplement. It is not necessary for this to be a mega dose pack of micronutrients. A little can go a long way to correcting deficiencies when taking a quality multivitamin and mineral supplement. With the correct amount of nutrients in our system, the mind and body work as they should and are less likely to trigger cravings and the desire to eat more and more.
2. Eat More Fruits And Veggies
How many times have you heard this one? The reality is that we don’t typically eat enough fruits and vegetables and while we think we may not like many of our veggies, I argue that we must “re-engineer” our taste buds. Because so many of us live on processed foods that contain little to no real nutritional value, (but taste really, really good) we have to get back to the basics and learn to appreciate the taste of real food again. Most people acquire a taste for coffee to provide a quick pick-me-up and acquire a taste for alcohol to relax. All I’m asking here is for you to acquire a taste for something that will help you live longer! Attempt to eat 4-5 servings of vegetables and 2-3 servings of fruit, daily. This might sound like a lot, but you would be amazed at what you can throw into a blended fruit smoothie or in a salad. Get as colorful as you can, choosing shades of fruits and vegetables from every color in the rainbow, but always make sure to eat your greens, the darker in color, the better.
3. Have Good Fats
Perhaps you’re still operating in the understanding that fat is bad. Well, this is simply untrue. There are good fats and bad fats. Good fats are found in nature, unaltered and in their pure form – they are not man-made like trans fats found in margarines and all fast foods. So, what is an example of a good fat? Olive oil, flax-seed oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, fish oil, primrose oil, raw nuts, seeds and avocados and fatty fish like wild-caught salmon. You may want to consider finding a good Omega-3 supplement, as well.
4. Limit Processed Foods
By eating 80% or more of our foods from only natural foods and limiting our “man-made” processed foods, we ensure that we are less effected by neurotoxic ingredients such as MSG or monosodium glutamate, designed to create drug-like addictions to processed food and increase overall food intake. Limiting processed foods also reduces consumption of hydrogenated oils (trans fats) and unnatural sugars, like high fructose corn syrup. Again, make sure your grocery cart is 80% or more whole food items (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes, lean organic meats and eggs, etc.)
5. Limit Sugar, Alcohol, And Refined Carbs
High-sugar foods spike blood sugar, further causing the pancreas to release mass amounts of insulin to simply bring blood sugar levels to normal. When a large amount of insulin is released in this manner, blood sugar ultimately drops very low, very quickly causing sever hunger and drive to refuel as quickly as possible. This destructive cycle can trigger addictive desires and cravings for sweets, alcohol and other fast-energy substances like caffeine. Avoid sugars, refined carbs, etc., as these products cause the body to store fat and promote a number of devastating effects to a variety of hormonal and endocrinological functions in the body, including the adrenal system. Overconsumption of these types of foods is a direct contributor to diabetes II and cardiovascular disease. Try using Stevia, which is an herb that has been used for centuries to naturally sweeten foods.
6. Limit Refined Salt
The American Heart Association recommends a salt intake of no more than 1,500 milligrams a day. The average American consumes 4,000 milligrams a day, resulting in over 150,000 Americans dying each year. Fast-food and dining-out restaurants, along with many processed foods, are believed to contribute to almost 80% of the salt in the American diet. One again, another reason to limit processed foods from your diet. Instead, make more meals at home and if you feel the need for salt, use a naturally derived sea salt instead. Sea salt does indeed contain sodium, however, it also contains a number of other minerals which offer an appropriate balance.
Perhaps you’re thinking all of this is easier said than done…and you’re probably right. If you really want to crush those cravings and change your eating, you will have to work at it. It is not going to happen overnight (I really detest all of those quick-fix schemes out there)!
There is no weight-loss pill, specially-formulated food bar, or new gym machine that is going to do this for you – you have to do it for yourself! Wake up every day, committed to making these changes and you will begin to see and feel the results…your cravings will lessen and you will begin to feel more in control.
- If you find that you have a bad day, remember that each and every day is a new day to make a fresh start. Keep trying and repeat those positive affirmations!
- Avoid temptations…when you’re at the grocery store, simply don’t buy the junk…don’t bring it into your home and clean out your cabinets.
- Avoid fast-food and prepare to take your meals with you to work instead.
- Drink 3 liters of water daily and help the body flush out those bad toxins which further trigger your cravings.
- Exercise! Often times, we create a lifestyle that is centered around food. Shake up your old routine by incorporating good replacement behaviors. Working out releases those feel-good brain chemicals, too, which can truly help deter depressive thoughts and emotions and sustain energy!
- Find someone you trust and ask them to be your accountability partner. We were never meant to go through life’s challenges alone, so bring your loved one’s into this with you. If you find your family is not supportive, seek support outside of your family circle, but no matter what, DO NOT GIVE UP!
Adapted from www.bestofyou.com
- Food Matters Part 1: The Sweet Truth (pascovet.wordpress.com)
- Don’t Cave In to Your PMS Cravings (everydayhealth.com)
- Addictive and Toxic: Found in Bread, Pasta Sauce and Salad Dressing (blogginghounds.wordpress.com)