Controlling food cravings

Chocolate. Salt. Sugar. … It seems like whenever you try to eat less of it or eat cleaner…. These ‘cravings’ seem to call  your name!!  Have you ever wanted dark chocolate so much that you didn’t catch a single word during that meeting just salivating over the thought of it?

Whether it’s an overpowering desire for a hamburger and fries or the absolute need for a chocolate bar at 3pm, food cravings are a common experience.

Cravings are not quite the same as hunger…and in fact they couldn’t be more different. Hunger is controlled by the stomach, but cravings are controlled by the brain. Hunger is all about your survival mechanism, but cravings are all about your body communicating with you.

Cravings, could be a result of  a hormone imbalance or maybe they are not functioning properly. Take the hormone cortisol for example,  if you’re training really hard, working all day, have a stressful home life AND decide to grab some fast food or something that is quick and convenient (not healthy)  you’re setting up the “perfect storm for cravings” which will lead to more issues with losing fat, enhancing your performance, and energy levels… which is what most people set out for when they start on their fitness journey.

Researchers at UC Berkley  did a study  and found that junk foods were much more desirable because high level brain regions were blunted from just one night of poor sleep.

Did you know that when you”diet’ you add stress to your body?  Your body will actually release more cortisol when dieting.  Also, when you cut calories too much, for too long, your hormones will be affected.

Then the CRAVINGS kick in – and you are craving, craving and craving!!!! This is messing with your emotions – then this leads to having a poor relationship with food – then  the diet ends, or your willpower finally caves, you binge on that hamburger or chocolate…

Here are some tips to keep those cravings under control- BEFORE they get out of control.

  1. Drink water- Around 60% of your body weight is water. Your body literally uses water for everything. Your cells, organs and tissues all need water to function properly. It also aids in food digestion, nutrient transportation, waste removal, joint protection, body temperature regulation and so much more.

  2. Get sufficient sleep!!Sleep deprivation  also causes your body’s hormonal system to be all out of whack. Managing stress in your daily life and having a normal cortisol curve is crucial to be able to sleep. When you don’t get quality sleep, you don’t get the increase in leptin. When you don’t get the increase in leptin, your brain signals hunger (cravings) when in reality, you don’t need the food. You need better quality sleep to regulate your hormones more effectively.
  3. Eat real food, protein, carbs and fat… not the packaged processed stuff.   If you  were to sit down with a bag of potato chips, or a box of sugary breakfast cereal – you could get through the entire bag/box without a problem.    It’s simple: foods that are high in protein, micronutrients and fiber are more satiating. They keep you fuller, longer. Plus, they make you feel good and won’t put you on the “blood sugar roller coaster” that highly processed foods often will.
  4. Eat mindfully. If you are more  mindful when you eat, you will be able to distinguish  your cravings versus true hunger. Think about it: when you’re distracted with your favorite show, you could probably eat a whole thing of ice cream. Sit in a quiet place or with family and be MINDFUL of what you are eating.

Give these strategies a try, and I promise, it will get easier to control those cravings. Being  more consistent will also set and establish great habits!!!

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Im Cheryl- Im very passionate about Exercise + Nutrition + Health = Wellness!!! Anything and all things that fall under the umbrella of fitness. I have a degree in Exercise Science, and have been living it, studying and having fun with it!!!

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