If we are craving something, that usually means that our needs are not being met, nutritionally, mentally, emotionally or otherwise. A craving is like an itch that is just begging to be scratched, and often occupies a large space in our attention until we buckle.
Despite our best intentions to want to look, feel, move, sleep and LIVE healthier, the itch still persists. When we scratch that itch, it feels good at first but then the short lived gratification quickly fades.
We are now left feeling guilty, with a poor sense of control having just undermined our best intentions. This can make us feel like we are going nowhere fast, a prisoner to the side of ourselves that seeks to undo us.
Existing in a world saturated with cues to consume is testing. This environment doesn’t exactly make things easy, but hell, most things that are worth doing aren’t.
What do you get when you call the shots over your cravings?
Your free will is restored. You have the ability to make decisions that aren’t influenced by a need for short term reward. This allows you to set your sights on long-term gratification, such as kicking a persistent health problem, or getting in the best shape of your life. This goes beyond just food. This extends to healthy spending and saving too.
- Maybe your jam is to get fit for an athletic event you have been setting your sights on.
- Your digestion might be overworked from insatiable food cravings, and irritable bowels are reducing your quality of life.
- Maybe you crave foods to self medicate stress and depression in an attempt to quell these feelings.
- You are exhausted and frequently reach for pick me ups in order to make it through each day.
Whatever your pickle, you CAN restore your power. You do this by putting your higher self in the driving seat. This allows you the freedom to make unadulterated decisions that will lead to your own personal success.
Nutritionally, a craving is a message that we are not receiving sufficient nourishment. This happens when we aren’t eating enough of the good stuff that grows from the earth.
We are continuously at work rebuilding ourselves cell by cell 24/7. The organs and systems of our body demand nutrients to sustain us. Consider, for example your immune system as a workforce and the currency they get paid in is nutrients. Your immune cells don’t work for free, not up in here.
So, when we are deficient in adequate nutrients, naturally your body will be sending messages that you need to nourish yourself. This is where the message gets lost in translation. Mostly we just eat. But what we really need are foods densely packed in nutrients. Nutrients are the currency of our body and its systems.
So get a hold of some organic, locally grown VEGETABLES! Greens are a golden ticket to liberating yourself from food cravings – they are straight dank.
Take Out The Trash
We can be prompted to eat even when we know we aren’t hungry. If you eat ‘healthily’ but still find yourself craving foods, then you might benefit from keeping an eye on your blood sugar.
There are many foods, mostly modern, which hack your blood sugar response. The finger is firmly pointed at sugar – the rapid insulin spike in response to sugar also causes a rapid low.
Since our body seeks to maintain homeostasis to prevent hypoglycaemia, we are cued to eat to restore this balance. Where we often go wrong, though, is we reach for the first sugary thing to induce another spike to get us though another demanding day. Before you know it, you’re riding a roller coaster ride that really isn’t that fun.
Sugar aside, our friend caffeine also takes us for a ride. An essential tool for our productivity, caffeine can instigate a domino effect of sugar cravings throughout your day from the get go.
To level the release of stress hormones from coffee which elicit a spike in blood sugar, consider adding some fats to your morning joe. This is known as bulletproof coffee and can include grass fed butter, Ghee or coconut oil – whatever your flava.
Refined carbs have become so far removed from their original state as ‘Whole grains’. How you can even call bread a whole grain is absurd. The grain is literally cracked to produce flour. Refined carbs provoke one hell of an insulin response. The fibre and phytonutrients in whole grains allow us to process them without undermining our biochemistry, and therefore our appetites. The lack of these components in vast amounts of foods we cross on a day to day basis is what can double cross us.
Watch our for flour products, especially white flour. This includes, cakes, biscuits, bread, pasta, cookies, muffins……
Also look out for cereals that aren’t granola or oats. These have often had the goodness refined out of them.
Processed foods include MSG, artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup. Aside from being carcinogenic (cancer causing) they can also hack your hunger.
Aspartame and HFCS undermine your blood sugar by causing disruptions to your gut microbiome . These are bacteria in our guts which process our food and influence its utilisation. MSG causes disruptions to our hunger hormone signalling. These include Leptin, which influences our energy intake and GLP-1 which plays a role in insulin release and satiety. MSG may impair the secretion of this hormone affecting our hunger.
The first time you say NO is always going to be the hardest. This is where you will have to grit your teeth, and break the perpetual cycle. This is where you will have to exert the most willpower, which when trained can become stronger.
Willpower does not fully determine our habits, decisions and therefore out behaviour. Whether or not we are optimally nourished, or biocemically balanced can override willpower sometimes.
However, we can chose to use our will to get what we want, and it all starts wit that first decision. Once we build up a series of good decisions, this forms a positive feedback loop, it perpetuates better decision making.
Once you have proven to yourself that you CAN forego that kit Kat, or snickers at 3PM each day, your belief system changes . ‘I don’t need that snack, Im still here, Im still okay, In fact I feel better than ever’.
Much like an ol fashioned locomotive leaving the station, once that baby is a movin, she aint stoppin.
Carry your momentum through each day. Build positive experiences and you will find that your willpower muscle naturally doesn’t have to strain so hard.
Identify The Triggers
What makes you crave foods and when? Is it something that makes you feel uncomfortable? Is it someone? Do you sit at a desk all day? Do you get your dose of endorphins from exercise, from play, from friends?
Start to tap into when your cravings arise and what they are triggered by. If you aren’t moving enough and are sedentary throughout the day then your need for reward will be sought after from a candy bar.
Movement is naturally rewarding. Dopamine and other delicious chemical cocktails exercise supplies fill us with felling of reward and fulfilment. We get this so we don’t need to seek it from elsewhere.
Does your work stress you out? Stress can instigate sugar cravings like they are going out of fashion.
Once you are aware of what stresses you out, you can come prepared. Maybe with a relaxing herbal tea, a brisk walk, or a short meditation session. That is if you have access to that kind of escape at work.
Change The Habit
Habits are either your best friend or your worst enemy, the trick is to identify and understand the way they influence your actions. A habit is much like energy – you cant destroy them, only change them.
A habit can only be changed. So, in order to ditch old habits, you must swap them for new ones. Once you know how to leverage this power, you can start to slowly look at and address what you want to start phasing out, and what to send packing.
Lets say you habitually consume 3 coffee’s a day throughout the morning. Instead of going cold turkey straight up, start by swapping that 3rd coffee for a healthy snack, such as a vegetable juice, a cup of tea, or an oat bar par example.
One you have become accustomed to this transition you can start to taper off. Its the same case for a candy bar in the afternoon. Start by drinking a juice, or whatever you want to substitute BEFORE you eat the candy bar. Then see if you still want it.
Still do? Don’t sweat, just keep repeating this until you can forego the urge to hit up the candy bar. Use your willpower muscle here – flex it like you mean it.
Option 3 – instead of eating a candy bar, you could just go for a 5 minute walk to get some fresh air. In actual fact, that might be what you are really craving if you are inside all day. The candy bar is just a way to take the edge off sitting or being inside for long periods.
However you want to do it, just switch it out, nail it down and move onto you next habit.
Choose The Less Destructive Option
Faced with a situation where the odds stack against you? Such as a dinner party. A wedding? There is likely to be some sort of indulgence. This is unavoidable at times, so we have to do our best to work with whats in front of us.
A good feast at these types of things can stretch beyond your humble starter and main – deserts, cheeses, and the drinks that accompany them. If there is an option to go for fruit instead of cake for desert, then take it.
If you could do without the cheese board after 3 courses so be it, – have a glass of water, or go out for some air. We don’t have to let these instances be our undoing. We don’t have to relinquish our control because all of a sudden, we are not in control of our decisions.
Its someone else’s fault that they are serving a 5 course meal, so i’ll just roll with it, right? You always have the power to make your own decisions – work with the situation, and flex that willpower muscle where you can.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
If you do scratch the itch, its not the end of the world. We all stray from the path sometimes. What separates us though, is whether you let yourself become defeated by an insignificant blip, or get straight back up and carry on.
This is the key difference between success and failure. Successful people still slip up. BUT they dust themselves off, forget about it and get straight back out there.