When you first begin to implement a healthy eating plan, or you first get started on a ‘diet’ it is essential that you keep your food cravings under control. When you let these cravings get the better of you, things can then easily spiral out of control, ending in a eating spree, and we all know that’s not good.
A food craving is an intense desire to consume a specific food, as opposed to general hunger. Food cravings are especially common in people following structured diet plans, and can be difficult to overcome. the usual foods that lure us are those rich in fat or calories.
Lets take a quick look at the reasons why you frequently crave the ‘wrong’ foods, mostly junk food, maybe its chocolate, biscuits, cakes, pies or take-aways. Maybe its because it tastes good, or maybe you’re stressing out, bored and want to kill time? Is it simply that when you know you shouldn’t have something, you want it even more? All these things undoubtedly can play a role, but the real answer is found inside the body. It’s the effect of your blood glucose or blood sugar level. If your blood sugar is too low, a hunger signal will go to the brain initiating food cravings.
So it’s real simple, keep your blood sugar from dropping to low and you prevent those cravings taking control of you.
Although there is no one-size-fits-all remedy for controlling cravings, most of these urges to eat can be reduced by stabilizing your blood sugar levels. To achieve this, try these healthy eating tips.
1. Do not Starve Yourself
Low blood glucose levels indicate you’re low on energy. Obviously, this happens when you don’t eat enough throughout the day. As a result the body will send out a message saying it needs food, which in turn will trigger the cravings. The lower your blood sugar levels, the more severe your cravings would be.
2. Eat at Regular Intervals During The Day
Eat up to 6 small meals per day. This way the food energy can be gradually processed, keeping the huge swings of the blood sugar to an absolute minimum. Allow 3 between meals. As well as maintaining stable blood glucose levels, regular eating helps your metabolism to burn calories at an efficient rate.
3. Drink lots of Water
It’s the cheapest, easiest and most natural way to stop cravings, yet it works.
4. Low glycemic foods / complex carbohydrates
Simple carbohydrates are quickly absorbed by the body, causing a blood sugar rush. This rush is the high we are looking for when we have cravings. By avoiding simple carbohydrates in the first place you will prevent cravings, because after the initial high simple carbohydrates give us, the blood sugar will dramatically drop, and very low blood sugar levels leads to huge cravings! So it creates a vicious circle.
Incorporating Low Glycemic (complex carbohydrate) foods (eg. oatmeal, brown rice, whole pasta, vegetables) into your diet will supply you with slowly absorbed energy and keep your sugar in balance all day long. Not only will this keep cravings away, it will make fat loss a lot easier as well.
5. Include Protein in Your Meals
Studies have shown that eating more protein will make you feel satisfied and full faster. An additional benefit of eating protein is that it even further lowers the glycemic load of carbohydrates when combined in one meal.
6. Avoid artificial sweeteners
Even when calorie-free, sugar substitutes can be 200 times sweeter than sugar. Adding these chemicals to your diet will only aggravate your sweet tooth
7. Reduce your intake of packaged, processed or “instant” foods
To guarantee the “taste” of heavily processed foods we demand, producers are often obliged to add extra sugar, salt and fat. By reducing your consumption of this type of “invisible” sugar you will gradually reduce your sugar dependence.
8. Exercise regularly
Due to the influence of mood on our eating habits, especially cravings, it is vital to take regular physical exercise on most days. Exercise significantly improves mood by releasing chemicals (endorphins) into the bloodstream, and will definitely help you to control your urge to eat. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise, each day, and if your cravings occur at specific times of the day or month, organise your exercise to coincide with these times.
9. Reduce Your Intake of Drinks That Act As Stimulants
According to some experts, stimulants (eg. sugar, caffeine in tea/coffee, caffeinated soft drinks) can cause fluctuations in blood sugar, and thus should be avoided or at least consumed in moderation. Switch to herbal teas, spring water and diluted pure fruit juices.
So now let Healthy Eating be part of your life, and say goodbye to cravings.
As part of Angie’s Healthy Living Blog’s Watch My Weight Wednesdays , I have pleasure in contributing this blog post. Feel free to check her blog out and participate yourselves!