One thing I’ve noticed over the last several years of my food & health is the decrease in my food cravings.
Please note I said, “decrease in my food cravings”, NOT the disappearance of my food cravings.
The first step in becoming healthy is to understand that you may always crave a certain food & that’s not necessarily bad. To crave a certain dish at Thanksgiving that you’ve eaten your whole life is more about an emotional comfort than a physical one. To want to eat that same dessert every time you return to your favorite vacation spot, is about the memories made there, not about a random desire for a high fat, high-carb, hyperpalatable food.
Here we are talking about cravings in every day life. Like Thursday afternoon, when the stress of the week & your lack of sleep the past 3 nights, is causing an overwhelming, intense longing for a Little Debbie snack cake.
Here are 3 of the most important things you can do consistently to decrease your food cravings:
The very first thing I realized about my cravings is that they decreased drastically when I had gotten enough sleep. Science backs this up by telling us about 2 little hormones that are only released when we sleep. Meet your friends Leptin & Ghrelin.
Ghrelin tells your brain that it is hungry. If you don’t make enough of it during the night, then your brain can’t decipher hunger signals well.
Leptin tells your stomach it is full. Same as above, if you don’t make enough during sleep, then your stomach doesn’t understand fullness & satisfaction cues of your body.
As you can imagine, the constant war between Leptin & Ghrelin sensors that are lacking because of poor sleep, means you are reaching for more chips & chocolate.
Though there are many other hormones that are released during sleep, these 2 hormones alone are worth doing whatever it takes to get enough sleep.
EAT REAL FOOD
When we eat real food, the neuropathways in our brain begin to relearn what we want.
Junk food is addictive & always leaves you unsatisfied. But when your body learns that it will thrive on chemical free, unprocessed, whole food, it will begin to subside its desire for cookies, pizza & chips.
Cravings are not generally for chicken breast & spinach, but if you can choose to eat those more often, even when you have a craving, your brain will learn new habits.
Your choices now, directly affect your cravings later. The more you choose to fill the majority of your nutrition with protein, veggies, fruit & healthy fats, the less you will have time or room for the junk.
MAKE SURE YOU EAT ENOUGH REAL FOOD
If you truly need to lose weight & have a goal weight in mind for health sake, then it’s a common thought pattern to think you need to cut calories. While this might be true in some cases, in a lot of cases, you just need to eat the right calories.
If you eat 1,700 calories in one day & that is comprised of your favorite coffee drink for breakfast, a quick drive through lunch & Chinese take out for dinner, your body simply can’t process those calories the same as it could a day of whole food eating for the same amount of calories.
For instance, if you ate 1,700 calories of whole foods in one day, it might look like this: for breakfast, 2 eggs, 1 cup of blackberries, 2 ounces of avocado & 3 slices of turkey bacon. For lunch, 6 ounces of chicken breast, 3 ounces of sweet potatoes, 1 cup of Brussels sprouts & a kale salad. For dinner, a tenderloin steak, 3 ounces of butternut squash & 1 ½ cups of asparagus. And you would still have enough calories left over for a protein shake & some pecans for a snack.
That is a lot of food! AND your body knows what to do with all of those things you just fed it. Your body has no problem turning all the protein, carbs & fat you just ate into the perfect amount of energy to help you function well all day long. If you fed it the same amount of calories from the first example of food above, your body rushes to process the spikes in your blood sugar levels & stores much of those calories as fat.
Everyone has different calorie needs so it’s really important to work with a qualified Nutrition Coach to help you figure out what you need.