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Q&A Thursday! ...Cravings deconstructed!

"I really want to lose some weight. My biggest downfall is sweet cravings, especially in the afternoon and evening, for chocolate or ice cream. Any tips on what I could eat instead to curb my sugar cravings as I have no will power!"

This was the message from a follower of Including Cake that greeted me in my inbox recently. I initially replied to her with some thoughts and planned to leave it there, but the knowledge that others also struggle with these same issues, and that my thoughts may be of help in some way led me to turn this into a blog post.

I plan similar posts going forwards... so please let me know if they resonate with you or if you have any questions or concerns you'd like me to address.

There are two main strands I consider in answer to this plea.... 

  • Why are you craving and what can you do about it?

  • What could you eat instead?

Notice I said 'could', not 'should'. My role in this relationship is to help provide you with options and resources to experiment with in your life. These are not prescriptive solutions as every person is unique, there is no judgement in terms of how you might choose to integrate these ideas into your life.

Why are you craving and what can you do about it?

Your body could craving a physical change: Have you ever wanted chocolate between around 4pm? Yep, me too! This craving is often a signal that you're tired from a full day of work. Your brain and body need to either rest or move... try stretching, closing your eyes to rest for five minutes, or going for a short walk.

Keep a craving journal: Your cravings mean something. They aren’t bad, and you’re not weak for having them. Begin to look at and listen to them. So many of our cravings are actually physical manifestations of an emotional issue. Have you been ignoring your feelings, pushing through to try to ignore some sadness? 

Interrupt the craving:  A craving usually lasts only 15 minutes. Knowing that there’s an end in sight can sometimes be enough to carry you through without eating your problem food. Take a step back and choose a way to interrupt your craving pattern, such as setting a timer for 15 minutes or drinking an large glass of water. You can ride out the craving until it passes, or move into the food options below.

Brush your teeth or chew gum:  I use this tactic all the time, particularly when I am producing a big batch if Wholeplus mix and I don't want to be tempted to eat it all! A minty fresh mouth deters me from going for the sweet stuff (at least temporarily). If I chew gum- I go for this brand free from nasties!

Are you bored or self sabotaging: I've been asking myself this question a lot- I know I snack when i'm bored or even more likely, putting off getting on with something- so basically a distraction tactic! If this sounds like you- try tuning into the difference between hunger and distraction and find an alternative outlet for the distraction..

What could you eat instead?

Ice cream and refined milk chocolate are the worst culprits for cravings because they combine and sugar and fat which is known to be worse (in terms of the bodes response and addictive qualities) than either when consumed on their own. 

In terms of what to focus on instead...

If you are craving chocolate, supposedly what your body really need is magnesium. The healthy foods that offer it are raw nuts and seeds, legumes and fruits. I also find nut butters - such as cashew butter which has a slight natural sweetness is great at curbing sweet cravings and creating satiety. A dose of healthy fats does wonders- but is of course calorific if eaten too much. I use it as a tactic to effectively break the sugary snacking cycle. 

If you are an ice cream fan, try blended frozen banana. Mixed with cocoa and some nuts or whatever you fancy it tastes very authentic (as long as you like banana!)

Plain yoghurt (greek yoghurt of coconut yoghurt are best) jazzed up with cocoa and some berries often hits the sport when I want visual volume to satisfy a craving but know am not actually very hungry. We eat with out eyes so this helps me psychological.

I found this great info graphic here, which helps give an insight to our cravings form a physiological standpoint (rather than an emotional one). 

Last but not least... I often make these truffles and keep them in the fridge or freezer to grab when in times of need. They tick all my boxes :-)

I'm now inspired to go and make some more... its been too long!

How do you curb your cravings... any tips that have worked well for you?

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