Food cravings are something we all suffer with when trying to lose weight. I've been there and so have a lot of my clients. There is nothing worse than sitting in your house with your mouth watering for something savoury, but you can't have it because you think it will ruin your progress. But will it actually ruin your progress? Let's talk about it.
The most common problem with cravings is food restriction. When people start to diet they tend to stop consuming either: junk food, fast food, alcohol, sugar and all that other delicious food that's been demonized by society. If you've ever dieted in the past and decided to give up a certain food group because you were told it was 'bad', you more than likely craved that food because you enjoy eating them. And once you start eating them again you just gave up dieting. Sound familiar?
So what are we suppose to do here? Well, this may sound a bit controversial, but, EAT THEM. I don't mean run off and consume these foods as the majority of your diet, that's silly. I'm talking about incorporating them into one or two meals a week that won't break the calorie bank. 80% of your diet should be nutritious. The other 20% can be whatever you want. If you know that you can consume these foods you won't crave them as much.
A client of mine had a huge win this week. When we had our initial consultation she mentioned that when she diets she tends to crave fast food really badly. I told her, "There is no such thing as bad food, not even a bad meal, only a bad diet." I further mentioned that shes been crippled by misinformation and that we need to overcome this problem. Now that she understands that she can eat these foods she no longer craves them. It's a "you always want what you can't have" type scenario.
There's another scenario I want to mention. Even if people know they can have junk foods they still crave them and once those foods are in their hand they won't stop until it's gone. "I can't just have one cookie, I have to eat the whole pack". In this case, don't have the cookies in the house. That's that night time post dinner "munchies" we all tend to have. After your dinner, maybe have a few berries to snack on as they are very low calorie, or, brush your teeth. Nobody wants to eat food after they have brushed their teeth, especially at night.
I think the key nutritional strategy to minimize food cravings is to consume foods that are satiating (fullness after a meal). If you're feeling hungry after a meal you're more than likley going to snack. Consuming protein in every meal (no less than 25g per meal) will minimize hunger as it's a very satiating macronutrient. Also, fiber is very satiating. Fiber is found mostly in whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. The more variety you have of these types of foods, the less hungry you'll feel, and the less cravings you'll have.
Let's wrap this up!
1. Do not restrict yourself from the foods you normally enjoy that society has deemed as bad. It's 100% okay to consume these foods in moderation. And we're not talking about carbohydrates. You can eat them daily as part of a healthy diet. I'm talking more about fast food and sweets etc.
2. If you find yourself binge eating on cookies, crisps/chips or ice-cream etc. Do not have them in the house. The less savoury snacks with high calories you have in the house the more control over your binge eating you'll have.
3. Consume protein and fiber in your meals to minimize hunger. The less hungry you feel the less likely you'll want to snack late at night. And brush your teeth straight after your dinner
I'm a personal trainer and nutrition coach based out of, San Francisco, CA. I do online coaching, in-house personal training and I help people improve their deitarty habits with a very specific nutrition approach. If you feel like you need to improve your health and fitness lifestyle, please, feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a call to discuss your goals further.