I think every client at one point has asked me this question: “Ginny, how do I curb the intense craving I have for _______ (insert your food drug of choice: sweet, salty or fried)?”
It is such a good question, and one I am continually trying to figure out myself. I’ve heard and given so many answers: “substitute fruit for chocolate” or “go for a walk outside with your family.” All great ideas. All great intentions. You may have tried them. I know I have. But sometimes that craving for something sweet, salty, or fried still lingers. Why?
Honestly, I do not think it is a simple answer. I think it has layers:
The food industry’s ways and science behind getting us to buy their food(s) (read more about this in an extensive article called, The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food, here). We crave because we are told or programmed to crave.
Failing to eating consistently (every 3 – 4 hours throughout the day). A ravenous person is not a rational person.
The emotions you feel about the craving. How does eating this bag of chips or sleeve of Girl Scout cookies make you feel? Does it make you feel comforted or happy? Asking those questions could take you to why you crave Thin Mints so intensely.
The addicting ingredients like refined sugar (aka: a bag of M&Ms), salt (aka: a bag of chips), trans-fat (aka: French fries), and chemicals (aka: processed foods like Oreos or Wheat Thins) that make you continually crave these foods.
The absence of eating enough of the foods your body TRULY craves. Foods from the earth are meant to feed our body. Those are the kinds of food that truly satisfy. They give us energy, longevity, and sustainability.
So how do you truly curb intense cravings? Again, there is no simple answer, but I believe you can start by doing the following:
1. Avoid buying processed foods. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and stay away from the middle aisles. Buy foods that come from the earth, or eat from the earth. Skip putting foods with a long list of ingredients or ingredients you cannot pronounce in your grocery bag. The battle is won at the grocery store!
2. Eat every 3 – 4 hours. Make sure your snacks have 100 – 150 calories, protein, and fiber. Protein and fiber will not only satisfy your immediate hunger, but keep you satisfied (and your hand out of the bag of chips) for several hours until time for your next meal or snack.
3. Journal your emotions. Write down the emotion you feel when a craving (salty or sweet) presents itself. Once you identify that emotion, you can develop a strategy besides food that meets that emotional need. This is part of the holistic approach of taking care of yourself. The cravings may be more than just physical; they could be emotional or mental. You may discover as you take note of your emotions and thoughts that going for a 10 -15 minute walk in the afternoon will improve your sinking spell even better than a chocolate chip cookie!
4. Clear your kitchen of processed foods. Throw away the boxes, cans, and bags of food that can live in your kitchen cabinet for several months. No reason to have those there as a temptation. Stock your fridge with fruit, vegetables, eggs, hummus, and lean meat, and the pantry with nuts, nut butters, and natural protein bars for grab-n-go snacks.
5. Eat an organic, plant based diet sprinkled with a little meat. Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, millet, buckwheat, sweet potatoes), nuts, beans, lentils, and lean meats (fish, turkey, chicken).
If you have tried these approaches to curb your cravings, but find yourself still struggling, we would love to help you at CentreSpringMD. We offer integrative testing that can help you discover the root cause of your cravings. Plus, we offer counsel, guidance, and accountability to help you conquer those cravings and develop healthful lifestyle habits that energize you and allow you to feel and be your best self!
|Ginny Streib is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Health and Wellness Coach who joined CentreSpring MD + Peds in late 2016 to further her passion for leading people to experience the fullness of life and live out their mission.|
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a visit with Ginny Streib.