You know how sometimes you start to get really strong cravings? Like you don’t know what you’ll do if you don’t go get ice cream right this second? Yeah girl, me too! And while there are some outside factors that can impact cravings like hormones and medical conditions such as PCOS or diabetes, several of the factors that impact our cravings are actually things we can control!
A few weeks ago, I covered this topic in my coaching program and the gals in the program had great things to say, so I thought, hmmmmm. I want to share the love on my blog, too! So let’s do it!
Reasons Why You May Experience Cravings
First let’s talk about reasons why we may experience cravings and then I’ll tell you what to do so you can minimize those cravings as much as possible.
Not eating enough food throughout the day
So many people will skip breakfast or get so busy at work that they don’t stop to take a snack break. Your body is like a machine that needs to be fueled regularly to function and when you don’t put enough food, especially the right food, in the tank it will start to crash and send signals to feed it. And guess what the quickest source of energy is? Sugar. This is why you may crave chips, candy, or a pumpkin spice latte.
Over time we can develop associations between certain foods and positive experiences. For example, maybe every time you get your hair done, you drive by the best dessert shop in town so you stop in to get a treat. Over time, you start to associate a hair appointment with eating dessert and you’ll stop to get something whether or not you truly want it.
This one is similar to not eating enough of the right things. Your body may crave chocolate because it needs more magnesium.
Sleep deprivation and stress
During these times, your body usually craves comfort foods which typically are high in calories and fat and sugar which triggers pleasure in your brain. Sleep deprivation can also disrupt your body’s hunger and satiety cues causing you to overeat.
So what can you do to help prevent cravings?
Listen up, sister! If you’re someone who struggles with cravings, give these tips a shot!
Eat balanced meals
This may sound generic or maybe you’ve heard it so much but you genuinely don’t know what a balanced meal is. A balanced meal is one that has carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, color, fiber, and food you actually like. When you eat balanced meals, it helps stabilize blood sugar and prevent cravings. A great example of this would be a grilled chicken breast with roasted sweet potatoes drizzled with olive oil, and a side salad with 2 Dove dark chocolate squares. Keep in mind if you’re eating things you don’t enjoy, you’ll likely still be craving something else to satisfy.
Eat more fiber
Fiber works to fill you up and keep you full for a while. I did a 7 day fruit and vegetable (high fiber foods!) challenge a year or two ago and the majority of people who participated reported being shocked at how full and satisfied they felt and how much less they craved processed foods. There’s power in the fiber, y’all! You’ll find fiber in fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains like brown rice, oats, and whole wheat products.
Drink more water
Did you know sometimes when you feel hungry you may actually just be thirsty? Our bodies can confuse the two signals and most people don’t drink enough water on a daily basis. It’s helpful to drink water consistently through the day rather than chugging 50 ounces in the evening to catch up.
Don’t skip meals
Skipping meals is not ideal for so many reasons but we’re talking about cravings today so let me explain why this is bad for your cravings. Remember earlier when I mentioned that your body is a machine that needs to be fueled? When you’re hungry, you’ll crave foods you wouldn’t crave if you were fueled. It’s as simple as that.
Did you know exercise helps regulate your hormones? It also boosts your mood which can keep you from feeling from cravings. Don’t miss out on the exercise, friends!
Get at least 7 hours of sleep each night and practice stress reduction exercises
Sleep quality and stress levels affect literally everything but especially our foods choices. And what do we crave when we’re tired and stressed out? Coffee (dehydrating), processed carbs (not much nutritional value), and sweets (probably more added sugar than we should have in a day).
And lastly, if you’re doing all of those things to help reduce cravings but you still have them from time to time, my biggest suggestion is to go ahead and….
Enjoy what you’re craving but eat a reasonable amount
Choose the smallest serving size or think about what you can add to it to make it a little more balanced. For example, if you’re craving oreo cookies, maybe you have one or two but rather than eating them plain, you crush them up and add them into a cup of vanilla Greek yogurt. Now you got to enjoy what you wanted, you limited the portion size, and you got about 12-15 grams of protein as well as calcium!
I hope you’ve found these ideas helpful and that you’re able to crush those cravings!