With human beings wired to eat at times of stress, conquering our cravings can be hard, especially right now! Below you will find five of my science based, experience backed tips for banishing your cravings for good.
Protein is our most important macronutrient, and the one we cannot live without. It is also our most satiating macronutrient (meaning it helps prevent hunger and cravings), and our body will actually continue to send hunger signals to our brains until our protein needs are met.
With most Americans not consuming enough protein for optimum health I recommend a minimum of 120g a day, ideally split between 3-4 meals.
Eating more veggies can confer a whole host of health benefits and are especially helpful when trying to conquer your cravings. When we eat fibre rich foods (vegetables are my number one recommended source of fibre) they expand in the stomach, which activates the stretch receptors in the intestinal lining. These stretch receptors send chemical signals to the brain, telling us we are full and satiated.
I love for my clients to eat 7-8 servings of veggies a day.
Low magnesium levels can sometimes be to blame for food cravings, and magnesium deficiencies are common in the U.S. population. Magnesium is used in over 300 metabolic processes so is essential to optimum health, and can often be low at times of stress. I recommend both an oral and topical magnesium supplement such as UberMg Px and Topical Mag from the Poliquin Store.
Whilst I am a huge advocate for the role mindset plays in healthy eating there are sometimes that quite literally, we cannot ‘think’ ourselves out of a craving. When faced with any kind of stressor our amygdala (the part of our brain responsible for our survival) activates our ‘fight or flight’ mode. This then tells our hypothalamus to either prepare our body to run, or battle for survival. This is an evolutionary mechanism, and whilst was useful in Paleolithic times when we were being chased down by a sabre-tooth tiger is not particularly helpful when the stressor may be a less than life-threatening event.
As part of the ‘fight or flight’ response the body is flooded with chemicals that raise our blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones. This is why we cannot think our way out of a stress craving, but instead need to move our way out of it by going for a run, working out, or even punching a pillow or two! This will help the body metabolize these fight or flight chemicals, leaving us feeling calmer after we have taken action.
Sometimes, the only way to conquer the craving is to give in to it – but only in a way that will bless and nourish our bodies. Start with a healthy protein, fat and fibre option such as veggie sticks with hummus and hemp seeds, or an apple and almond butter. Wait for 20-25 minutes (this is typically how long it takes for chemical signals to reach our brain to tell us that we have eaten) before eating again. If this just doesn’t hit the spot reach for a healthier alternative to satisfy your craving, such as sugar free organic dark chocolate (I love Lilys Sweets) or grain free, avocado oil chips (Tim loves Siete Foods).