Ever had that feeling? You just can’t get a certain food out of your mind, and you want some now. Or you just have to have something sweet-or salty-or creamy-or crunchy. The appetite can seem almost insatiable appetites at times. When bored, when hormones shift, when afternoon fatigue or late nights hit, the urge to eat may be overwhelming.
The definition of crave is “to long for, want greatly, desire eagerly”. I rarely hear people describe a craving for steamed vegetables. Craving is most often associated with sugar and “snacks” that are usually processed or salty.
Oddly, a small amount of the desired food may not satisfy, but instead turn on a binge. The next thing you know all the chocolate, half the ice-cream, or half the bag of chips is gone and you don’t know how exactly that happened. Bingeing becomes almost an unconscious act. Even if you think before hand that you will only eat a little, because you will gain weight, or get bloated or feel lousy afterwards, you just can’t stop.
Here are ten tips you can use to help avoid the remorse, extra pounds and health hazards of food cravings:
1) Identify the kind of food that you crave and find a healthier, lower-calorie, substitute. Is it crunchy-salty like chips? Try celery with a little salted organic nut butter. Sweet and creamy? Try fresh dates spread with some nut-butter. Ice-cream? Look for zero calorie coconut cream ice-cream sweetened with stevia. Crunchy crackers? Look for crackers made with almond flour from Blue Diamond Almonds.
2) Get more sleep. Over-eating and cravings can be turned on by insufficient sleep, especially if you are sleep-deprived long term. http://www.naturalnews.com/046754_sleep_quality_junk_food_cravings_obesity.html
3) Identify the time of day you have cravings. Many people eat the minute they walk in the door after work because they arrive tired and hungry. Eating a healthy mini-meal late in the afternoon, or on the way home, can make a difference. Try saving part of your lunch for the end of the day. Plan ahead to have a quick dinner to prepare and have healthy snacks ready if you need to eat while cooking. Try a protein shake with cocoa powder and low-glycemic sweetener like stevia or xylitol for an after dinner dessert.
4) Drink 2 glasses of water when a craving hits you. Don’t gulp the water, but drink slowly. Sometimes a need for food is actually a sign you are thirsty.
5) Add more greens to your diet. Buy bags of organic pre-washed greens like baby spinach, baby kale or other tender greens and sprinkle them on fish or chicken or meat for extra vegetables. The potassium may help your sugar cravings.
6) Take extra minerals as a supplement. Your body may seem to be asking for food, but may really need some nutrients like minerals, which are the building blocks of the cells. Extra magnesium may help chocolate cravings. Calcium, iron, iodine, and other essential minerals are missing from our food supply, and may require supplementation.
7) Eat more protein and fat. Eat protein and fat at every meal. Eat a fatty snack instead of a sugary snack. Nuts can be addictive, especially if they are roasted and you may over-eat them. Butter, eggs, avocado, smoked salmon, Greek yogurt are fats that can help you to feel satisfied so that you can resist temptation if not avoid it all together. Dividing your meals in half and eating the second half two hours later may help. If you are still hungry, eat more fat and vegetables.
8) Get moving when cravings hit. Get outside, walk around the block, run up and down stairs, jump on a rebounder, go for a short jog. Getting your circulation going will get more nutrients to your cells, and deep breathing will get more oxygen into your blood. This may turn off the cravings. And getting out of the house may help-as long as you don’t head for a food store.
9) Take a whiff of an essential oil. Peppermint, orange, or grapefruit oil may stimulate your senses, and calm cravings. Chewing gum sweetened with xylitol may help. Xylitol protects against tooth decay and won’t spike your blood sugar. Flavors include peppermint, cinnamon, spearmint and even licorice.
10) Have a back up plan. Call a friend, walk the dog, write in your journal, find other ways to help yourself feel happy, loved and balanced. If reaching for food is self-medication for emotional states, create other outlets. Maybe it is better to throw a few plates than piling them with food and over-eating junk! And if you find yourself frequently needing comfort foods in response to life situations, it might be time to move on to something better.