How to Crush your Cravings
Sometimes people ask me if I have a cheat meal. The truth is that I don’t, because I view nutrition as part of my lifestyle. Eating healthy is not just something you do when you are trying to lose weight or get in shape for a competition. For some people, it can be difficult to transition to a healthy lifestyle, and when they crave something sweet, for example, they fall back down to their previous unhealthy habits. No one wants that!
A key to good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle is listening to your body and learning to understand what is it telling you. Cravings often signal that your body isn’t getting the nutrition it needs. My cravings are often steak or something fatty. When I take the time to listen to my body, I often realize that I need to recover and refuel.
If you aren’t sure what your body is telling you, a good first step is to start a food journal. Write down what you ate and when, along with anything else of note, such as the kind of workout you did, and then log how you feel throughout the day. You may discover that each afternoon you get a craving for potato chips. Did you deplete your electrolytes working out earlier? Maybe you are dehydrated. If you crave sugar, you might need energy. Your body is telling you something, and it is your job to listen.
Cravings can take time to subside, so what do you do if you have a craving right now? How do you get past it without reaching for the office birthday cake?
Cravings can sometimes be a signal that you are thirsty. Try drinking half a glass of water and see how you feel. When you are thirsty, your body is already dehydrated, so make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day. This of course doesn’t just help you crush your cravings, but is part of a healthy lifestyle.
Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to stop cravings from messing with your day. If it is nice out, go for a short walk around the block, or take 10 minutes to do a few yoga stretches. If you are doing a lot of nonaerobic exercise, and are finding you still have cravings, this might be a good time to introduce more aerobic activity. Researchers at Loughborough University found that 60 minutes of running suppresses the appetite, and crushes cravings, better than 90 minutes of weight lifting. A healthy balance, like everything, is key.
Eating protein at every meal can give you the energy you need throughout the day, so you are less likely to be craving sugar in the afternoon. Keep protein-high foods within easy reach, like hardboiled eggs or almonds. And always eat breakfast! Without a healthy breakfast that includes protein, you are asking for cravings to sneak up on you. If you aren’t sure what your protein needs are, speak with your coach or nutritionist.
Break the negative cycle
Sometimes a change of environment is all you need to refocus away from your craving. If you always have ice-cream on the couch before you go to bed, sit outside instead. Replace the ice-cream with something else, like a banana with a handful of cashew nuts. By siting outside instead of on the couch, your brain doesn’t fall into the same negative cycle, and you can create a new habit. And make it easy on yourself to choose the healthier option, which might mean leaving ice-cream off of the grocery list or finding a healthier alternative.
As I said before, cravings tell us something about how we are doing. You don’t just want to ignore your cravings; you need to pay attention and understand what they are telling you. Once you understand your body, you can spend less time trying to stop your cravings, and more time eating good food and feeling great! What do you do when you have cravings?