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Strategies to Conquer Food Cravings

by | Aug 13, 2013 | Functional Medicine, Healthy Living, Nutrition Info, Weight Loss and Maintenance

Odom Health & Wellness is unable to provide nutrition and weight loss services for individuals living outside of Minnesota

Are you looking for strategies to conquer food cravings? If you find yourself giving into your food cravings too often, it’s time that you put together a plan to get past them. Listening to what your body is craving is an important part of intuitive eating but it’s also important that your brain kicks in to say when you are listening too often and hurting either you fitness goals, weight loss goals or health goals.

Constantly giving into cravings is going to have you taking in a much higher calorie intake than you should because typically a “craving” is for a less than ideal food choice. And giving into a craving too often is typically going to increase your intake of unhealthy fats, sugar and sodium.

Fortunately, cravings really don’t have to get the best of you as long as you have a few simple techniques to outsmart them.strategies to conquer food cravings

Eat Regularly

The very first tip to remember if you want to avoid your food cravings is to make sure you’re eating regularly throughout the day. Those who eat on a constant basis are going to have more stable blood sugar levels, and this is paramount to reducing blood sugar fluctuations that cause cravings to hit.

Here is one of my weight loss counseling tips I’ll share with you: Give your body 3 hours to process food you ate and to let your blood sugar and insulin peak and come back down, but don’t go more than 5 hours (6 in some cases) without eating while you’re awake (sleeping is different). Cravings will always be higher when hunger is increasing, so do everything that you can to avoid this. The key is to not eat past your point of gentle fullness at each meal or snack.

Don’t Cut Out Nutrients

The second way to combat cravings before they start is to take a good look at your eating patterns and food choices and make sure you aren’t cutting out any essential nutrients.

The best patterns will include proteins, carbs, and healthy fats throughout the day as all are required to fuel a properly functioning body-and not front-loaded or back-loaded.

Diets that are ultra-low in fat or ultra-low in carbs tend to backfire in the long run, so consider a more moderate approach. Eating will be less negative, your food selection will have more variety and you’ll feel more satisfied as well.

Drink Water, Water and More Water

Water might be the nutrition topic I harp on the most (besides vegetables and intuitive eating) but it is the fourth macronutrient everyone forgets about. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will not only keep your mouth busy, but it keeps your belly full longer, hydration can minimize sugar and sodium cravings and you’d be surprised that 8 ounces of water with lemon drank within 10 minutes can make a craving disappear.

Plan Mental Food Break Meals

Plan a “free” meal into the mix. Cheat meal, free meal, mental food break meal, or whatever you call it potentially jump start your metabolism after a few weeks of eating very clean and can also put your mind at ease.

If you put a food on a ‘never eat’ list, that is the food that you are going to primarily fixate on and that in itself can bring about cravings. By making time for a planned and portioned free meal, you’ll relax a mental obsession and have something to look forward to and work for. This can be a tricky one for some people because they feel they can’t close the door once it is opened. Try having one night a week that is your planned and allowed “dessert night.” Mentally prepare yourself for several weeks before actually beginning the dessert night. This will give you to time to categorize the night and not let your mental permission go outside of that evening. Your taste buds will be happy, your craving will be satisfied but you won’t give yourself any space to push past that one allowed meal.

Train Your Brain and Flex Your Control Muscles

Did you know there is evidence-based research showing that your brain can be trained to not give into tempting foods? A study using a PET scan monitored areas of the brain that fired when individuals decided not to eat a piece of cake. Over time, they found that it took less and less brain activity to say no to that piece of cake.

So, the next time you feel attacked by a food craving, stay focused, stay strong, think about the positive health benefits of not giving into that craving and you’ll start training your brain for the next time.

Do a Safe and Purposeful Natural Detox or Temporary Elimination Diet (Please don’t misinterpret me on this one!)

Many of y’all patiently endured a personal mental process I went through last winter. I decided it was time to explore the purpose and science behind natural detoxification processes.

I will never condone putting chemicals or unnatural materials into your body to cleanse, detox or whatever, but you can read how I came to terms with the need to support your liver’s natural detoxification pathways HERE.

One part of supporting natural detoxification is a to temporarily limit intake of pro-inflammatory foods and potential toxins. A secondary benefit of doing this is that cravings nearly always subside after 7-10 days. If you take away the sugar, salt and fat trifecta, your body will not desire more of it.

You can do this easily by eliminating those foods from your diet for 7-14 days and the cravings will lessen but take a look at the Detox with the Doc event we’re doing in September. What better way to clear out your system and lessen cravings than with a medically-backed program and with a group of like-minded individuals for support? See our Local Events Page.