That’s how I feel about cravings…like they’re little minions (and not the cute ones from Despicable Me) sent from the diet-sabotaging gods to infiltrate your fortress of health. Ok, maybe a wee-bit dramatic. But, seriously, aren’t cravings annoying? You’ve made the decision to eat healthier, and you’re doing great; then, BAM! 10:30pm, sitting on the couch, unwinding after a long day, and your mind goes to whatever yummy snack you know is sitting in the freezer, fridge, or pantry. You ignore it. Even have that internal battle with the minions, “No, go away! I said NO! I’m not gonna do it!” Yup, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Ok, so what to do about it? Duh! Kick the minions out, one by one. HA! Well, something like that. Here’s the good news, it’s all mental (well, most of the time; that is, when you’re not REALLY hungry). Usually, it’s just a habit. You can control your mind, and you can break habits. There it is. You’re welcome. Now go fight off the minions! Ok, ok…I’m kidding.
First, you have to deconstruct your cravings. Meaning, become familiar with your body, your triggers, and why it is that you crave things; find patterns where there are some. I’ve learned that when I get home from work at around 11pm, I want to eat something; and after a meal I want something sweet. Both of those are habits. I know I’m not really hungry, I’ve just become accustomed to eating when I get home from work and having dessert. Of course, you have to be able to eliminate undereating, and vitamin/mineral deficiencies as the sources of these cravings. When you don’t eat enough throughout the day, specifically an adequate combination of protein, fat, fiber, and carbs, you are going to have cravings; same goes for any vitamin/mineral deficiencies you may have (craving salt/salty snacks, for example, can, in some instances, be related to an iron deficiency). If you’re able to rule those out, it’s time to put minion-fighting ninjas in place (you know, a plan). Here are some easy tips:
1. Drink water (often we confuse thirst with hunger)
2. Read a book, call a friend, or watch a movie (distract yourself long enough to know if you’re really hungry…many times you’ll notice the craving passes)
3. Take a shot of apple cider vinegar, raw/organic honey, and sunflower oil (1 oz. of each and mix): apple cider vinegar helps balance your body’s pH, supports healthy digestion, and can help curb cravings for sugary and high fat foods; sunflower oil is high in fat (but the good kind! and not eating enough fat can make you have cravings), a great source of vitamin E, antioxidants and provides natural energy; in addition to being anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, honey also regulates your blood sugar
4. Have healthy snacks on hand ALL THE TIME: my favorite snack, as you already know, is half of an avocado sprinkled with sea salt. Think easy, healthy things you can always have on hand: nuts, seeds, raw fruit and veggies, baby carrots and hummus.
5. Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast! Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day (when I skip breakfast, it doesn’t matter what I eat throughout the day, I’m always hungry at night)
6. Eat smaller meals, frequently (ideally, you should be eating every 3-4 hours and I don’t mean eat a super-sized Big Mac meal every 3-4 hours. Small, healthy, balanced meals)
7. Meals should have a combination of fiber, carbs, healthy fat, and lean protein (for example, a grilled chicken salad with olive oil: chicken – lean protein, veggies – carbs and fiber, olive oil – healthy fat)
8. Write. Many times taking out some blank sheets of paper and writing (yes pen and paper, not Iphone notes) and working through your emotions, or whatever is going on in your head at the time is all you really need. Venting on paper is always a great tool. Maybe you’ll realize you didn’t need that snack after all.
Peace out cravings-minions… you’re not welcome here.
Fight on ninja health warrior!