0 Comments 27
Jan

How to Manage Food Cravings

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We all love our food, but how can we stop these powerful cravings in the afternoon or evening that seem to sabotage our days healthy eating!

A craving is often the body telling us it needs more nutrients to function optimally. Or it can be a psychological (which quickly becomes physiological) habit, based on emotional needs and beliefs.

Our cravings are usually for high fat, salt and sugar foods that aren’t good for us and only perpetuate the food craving cycle. Unfortunately for us it’s not common to crave carrots and celery sticks!

While this is the case, we don’t want to deprive ourselves of all ‘extra’ foods.  It’s better to enjoy that piece of cake every now and then and savour the taste than to continuously choose a healthier alternative that may not satisfy the craving.

Got a craving? Check in with your body and get in touch with its signals

food cravings algorithm

 

Cravings can sometimes be driven by hormones and emotions, so here are some more helpful tips during those tempting moments.

Are you getting food cravings at the same time each day?

This could be due to unstable blood sugar levels. Not sure how to fix this? Eating regular meals and snacks including low GI carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats and fibre can help to reduce those cravings.

Be prepared for your usual craving time with healthy snacks that satisfy your needs – maybe you need something crunchy, salty or sweet – find a healthy option that actually satisfies the craving so you’re not left looking to vending machine or servo offerings.

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Always craving food when watching TV?

Sometimes a particular activity can trigger cravings. Have a go at watching TV one evening without eating and see how you feel afterwards. Sit with any discomfort that may arise. Notice any benefits.

You may need to stop doing the activity that brings on the food cravings for a while.  Sometimes it can take weeks to break a habit.

Eating due to emotions and stress?

This is so common! Eating is a way to avoid feeling things we find uncomfortable. Of course it doesn’t deal with the feelings or issues and only adds to the problem when we then feel heavy from overeating.

Take 3 minutes to tune in to your body and feel whatever you’re feeling – just let it be! Then tune into your breath to help you relax. This gives you space to contemplate how to handle your feelings, maybe food isn’t the best answer?

Have a list of alternatives that work for you- meditate, go for a walk, have a shower, put on music to dance to, call a friend etc…

Eating when you’re not hungry places stress on the body as it has to deal with food it doesn’t need.

Still having problems?

There could be a physiological reason. Visit your GP for further investigation.

Are you on a medication that could be having an effect?

You could get a stool test to rule out parasites and worms.

You could get a blood test to check your Magnesium, Zinc, Chromium, Vitamin B12, Folate, Iron and vitamin D level.

You could try increasing your fibre intake through non-starchy vegetables, legumes, whole fruit, nuts and seeds.

You could try blood sugar balancing herbs and spices such as cinnamon, ginger, fenugreek, basil and bitter melon (a vegetable) or green tea.

Be aware of your justifications e.g. ‘it was on special’, ‘it was for the visitors’ and be honest with yourself – notice how different foods make your body feel.

Remember there’s nothing wrong with a little indulgence here and there – eat like the French and get maximum pleasure by really savouring your sometimes foods!

And if you need some more personalised support, get in touch!

Try this slice when you’re after something sweet – it’s a good cravings buster because it’s full of magnesium, protein and fibre.

Choc Peanut Slice

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(recipe makes 14 slices)

Ingredients
Base:
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups pitted dates
1 cup desiccated coconut
Filling:
2 cups raw peanuts
2 tbsp cacao powder
3 tbsp natural honey
2 cups desiccated coconut
1 tbsp water (if necessary)

Method
1. Soak dates for 5-10 minutes in hot water until nice and soft (not needed for medjool dates).
2. Combine all base ingredients in a food processor until the mixture sticks together well.
3. Spoon into a lined baking tin (mines 15cm x15cm) and press down to form a base.
4. Place into the fridge to set while making the top.
5. Mix all filling ingredients in a food processor until a paste forms and the mixture sticks together well (only add water if the mixture is too dry).
7. Spoon onto the base and press down to your desired thickness.
8. Place in the fridge to set.

Note: Store in the fridge to keep firm for up to two weeks. 

Happy eating guys!

Please let us know if any of these strategies have helped you

By Shani Drake and Joey De Backer

Written by

Joey

Joey is an Accredited Practising Dietitian committed to holistic nutrition counselling. Her mission is to inspire, educate and assist people from all walks of life to achieve health and wellbeing through healthy eating habits and a positive relationship with food; to empower people to take control over their health by supporting self-efficacy; and to support a sustainable food supply by promoting consumption of local, seasonal and fresh foods and minimising waste.

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