My sweet tooth is out of control.
Most people think that because I’m a dietitian, I eat perfectly all the time and never get those guilty cravings. Well, my cover is blown. In fact, my sweet tooth was so bad, I decided to take part in a 30 day cleanse in hopes of ridding myself of that post dinner sweet treat craving.
Finally, day 30 has come and gone and I’m happy to announce that my body no longer yearns as badly for sugary foods. I also learned a few tricks that help get me passed those pesky cravings.
1. Healthify your craving!
To quench cravings, try making a healthy version of something more decadent.
Your first job is to determine if you’re having a craving for texture or for flavor.
If it’s texture, then opt for something similar. Desires for crunchy potato chips are often cured with some whole grain crackers spread with your favorite nut butter or some raw veggies with hummus. Soft texture options include chia seed pudding or a warm bowl of quinoa or oatmeal porridge.
Are you craving a flavor? My vice used to be ice cream, which was loaded with added sugars. Instead, I switched to a healthier chocolate banana ice cream made all naturally in my NutriBullet by adding a frozen banana, 1 tablespoon of raw cacao powder, a spoonful of unsweetened coconut flakes, and some unsweetened vanilla almond milk about half way to the MAX line. The flavor was still there, but not the other unhealthy additives. Delish!
No matter what, avoid trigger foods - foods that cause you to spiral into a tailspin of unhealthy eating. Often the foods we crave are the ones that cause sensitive reactions in our bodies.
2. Cut out sugar, including high-glycemic fruits.
Sometimes, subbing one thing for another just won’t cut it. In this case, cutting it out cold turkey (not necessarily forever!) helps do the trick.
If you have a sweet tooth like I do, I recommend cutting out all added sugars and artificial sweeteners and even cutting out all fruits for a week. Some may wish to leave in berries since these are shown not to spike blood sugar and insulin levels like other fruits might.
But how? The only way, I'm afraid, is to get rid of all the sugar in your house. Out of sight, out of mind. Tell everyone you know about your plans to cut out sugar, so if you happen to be out with someone one night, they know you aren't eating sugar and are less likely to tempt you. If it's not there, you can't eat it!
3. Drink infused water.
We often mistake thirst for hunger so be sure to drink plenty of water (measured in pounds, drink half your body weight in ounces). This promotes digestion, helps fill you up and prevents cravings.
“Infused” simply means water that has been steeped with fresh fruits, veggies or herbs. My favorites include cucumber, berries, lemon, orange, or mint.
In addition, avoid caffeine or alcohol as these increase stress and lower inhibitions, both of which promote cravings and make you more prone to giving in.
4. Tune in to emotional vs. physiological hunger.
If Cheetos are on your mind, your fingers probably won't turn orange anytime soon, since emotional hunger rarely relates to physiological hunger. Wait at least 10 minutes after a craving strikes, drink some water and see if you’re still hungry. More than likely, you’re bored, lonely, stressed, angry, sad, or are swayed by social influences.
How might you know if your hunger is emotional or physiological?
True physical hunger comes on gradually, can be satisfied by any type of food option, goes away when you're full and does not end in any “guilty” feeling or regret. So, if that’s not the case, then seek other ways to feed your feelings.
When emotional hunger hits me, I tend to head out for a walk, clean or organize my desk or some room at home, go shopping (avoid the grocery store or any place that sells food), fix a nice warm cup of tea, or take a relaxing bubble bath. What might you try to battle emotional eating?
5. Increase your fiber and protein
Fiber is my best friend! Not only does it help keep me regular, it keeps my cravings at bay.
Another superstar nutrient is protein. When fiber and protein are consumed, sugars are absorbed into the blood stream at a much slower rate. When our blood sugar levels remain stable, cravings are less likely to occur. Try adding some old-fashioned rolled oats, flax seeds, chia seeds, nuts or nut butters, hemp seeds, or your favorite protein powder to your next NutriBlast.
If I could add a number six to the list it would be to brush and floss your teeth. That fresh minty taste and a nice clean mouth usually blunt my appetite (I'm also lazy and don't want to have to brush my teeth again!)