What’s your biggest go-to craving?
Mine used to be ice cream and chocolate, or gummy candy. I would skip the REAL food to save my calories for this. Crazy times.
No wonder the cravings were persistent since I wasn’t nourishing myself.
The body needs the synergy of real food nutrition to feel satisfied.
The simplest way to eliminate cravings is to make sure you eat a nutrient dense diet.
1) Eat foods as close to the way that they are found in nature.
2) Eliminate foods that come prepackaged with a whole host of unrecognizable ‘chemicals in disguise’.
3) Use sugar sparingly and when you do eat it, choose treats made with local honey, dates, or erythritol.
4) Eat local and seasonally. Nature knows what will “do your body good” taking into consideration the local elements that surround you.
Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness slows down time for you, and puts space between craving or starving and binging and stuffed.
- Am I really hungry, or just snacky?
- Is this food delicious and satisfying or am I just putting something in my mouth out of boredom? If it’s not actually going to be amazing, then leave it.
- Can I ride out my craving for 15 or 20 minutes so I can make a healthier choice later?
- Keep healthier, yet satisfying, options available. Use well planned “preemptive cheats” that will satisfy the craving yet not throw you off the deep end. For example, I always have some dark chocolate in the house. When I want a treat, I know this will SATISFY me, but if I had peanut MnM’s around it would derail me – because it wouldn’t satisfy.
- Let yourself indulge every once in a while. Don’t deprive yourself, but be moderate. Having an abundance mindset is key here. Nothing is off limits, you have it anytime, so there is no need to eat it all in one sitting. Have a bite or two, then save the rest for later.
What about snacking?
We spent years being told to snack every 2 hours to keep our blood sugar stable. Eating every 2-3 hours, even if it’s a small ‘mini’ meal or snack (or whatever you want to call it), is NOT how you balance your blood sugar levels. Especially when the most common snacks are carbohydrate based.
If you are constantly hungry every 2-3 hours it’s because your blood sugar IS NOT stable.
The more you eat, the more you spike your blood sugar. And the more you spike your blood sugar, the more insulin you release, which means mood instability, weight gain and hormonal imbalances. Oh yeah, and cravings!
Make sure you have adequate protein, lots of high fibre vegetables or some fruit, and a portion of healthy fat with your meals. This can help to balance your insulin levels, keeping you satiated between meals, and get you used to eating every 4-6 hours.
Of course there is always an exception. We can’t always eat 3 full meals a day depending on our schedule. Or sometimes we have higher activity levels. If you are truly hungry, have a snack, but make sure it is satisfying snack that provides protein and fat, and isn’t loaded with sugar.
3 Step Plan of Attack
- Listen to your body. Really stop and listen.
- Eat only when you are actually hungry.
- Then choose foods that satiate (satiety) and satisfy (satiation)
Satiation and Satiety – What’s the Difference?
In nature we find foods that light up pleasure and reward centres in the brain because they also provide vital nutrients. Our brains have been hard wired to appreciate 3 basic tastes:
Sweet: seasonal raw fruit providing vitamins, minerals, fibre, and phytonutrients, providing a safe and quick source of energy.
Fatty: nuts and seeds or rich meats (like organ meats). These provide a dense, nutrient rich source of energy.
Salty: seafood, eggs, meats, some vegetables. These provide electrolytes like sodium to maintain fluid balance.
Since our brain responds strongly to these flavours, food scientists and producers are “catering” to that. They have modified whole foods into “food-like products” and are providing cheap, mass produced, overstimulating, long shelf life alternatives that mess with our brain:
Sweet: high-fructose corn syrup, refined sugar, artificial sweeteners
Fatty: margarine, fried foods
Salty: refined salt, chips, pretzels
These processed foods light up the same pleasure and reward centers in the brain but without the nutrition that always accompanies the same flavours found in nature. These foods just stimulate our taste buds and signal our body to keep eating, leading to more calories with less nutrition.
This leads me to satiation and satiety.
- Regulated by the brain
- Based on perception – satisfaction, enjoyment, “mmmmm, delicious!”
- Based on sensation – taste, smell, texture, feeling of fullness
- Quicker response time – occurs during a meal, ends desire to eat
- Estimate, based on perception, not a measurement of nutrients
- Regulated by the digestive tract, in the intestines
- Based on actual nutrition in the food – calories and nutrients absorbed
- Hormones signal to brain that body is nourished – decreases desire for food
- Slower response time as digestion must take place – occurs at end or after a meal
- Easy to overeat due to slower response time, if relying only on these signals
As you can see it’s important that we choose foods that provide both satiation and satiety.
- take time to eat
- require chewing
- contain complete protein (most satiating of all foods)
- contain naturally occurring fat
- are visually appealing
- taste and smell good
- are rich in nutrients
- are high in fibre
- have higher volume (soups, salads)
On the other hand, when we eat highly processed, overstimulating “fake” foods, we tend to eat them much more quickly, they don’t provide nutrition, there are no signals to tell us to stop, so we continue to want more, even past the point of fullness.
So next time you’re hungry, remember your body wants whole nourishing food, not just calories.