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What causes cravings and how to fight them?

Posted on December 16 2019

As much as you want to stay on track, you are going to have cravings. Not going to lie, these are hard to overcome. I really wish a good workout could out run a bad diet, however, this is not possible (trust me I have tried it more than one time :(). However, over the last few months I have come up with a few things that have helped fight through cravings and may even help you!

Numero Uno

Are you having a craving or temptation? The two things are hugely different and once you understand this, you can fight whatever you are having better.

Cravings are body’s sign to cry out for a particular nutrient/ vitamin/mineral that is missing out in your diet. My most popular example is chocolates! Coco beans are loaded with magnesium and when your daily diet lacks in magnesium, you will crave (cry out for) chocolates. Women during menstrual cycles may relate to this. Green leafy veggies such as spinach and even some dry fruits are loaded with magnesium. Having these will help you curb your cravings for chocolates. Chocolates also boost your serotonin levels (feel good hormone)in the body, thus craving for them are higher when you feel depressed/ sad/ anything negative. Try natural mood boosters like watching a funny movie, weight lifting (ok thats only for crazy people like me;)), playing with a puppy etc.

In short when you are craving for a particular food item, look up what is that food high in, you maybe low on some micronutrients. A wholefood, high- carb, plant based diet however will leave you with very little cravings (ask me! I just ate sweet potato-black bean burger and minestrone soup for lunch!  This leaves me with absolutely nothing more to crave for;)) Your veggies and fruits are loaded with micro nutrients so you get enough of everything and don’t crave much. Fill up on them to avoid junk binging. Fruits are also natures very own candy and have good amount of natural sugar leaving you craving less for desserts (sometime a sign of blood glucose level going low).

What are temptations then- well, you saw someone eating pizza from your favourite joint and you want one right then. Best way to check if you are having a craving or temptation is to practise delayed gratification. Tell yourself you will eat/ give- in to whatever you feel like eating but after 4 hours. A temptation will generally die within a few hours but cravings may stay with you for weeks. Hormonal imbalance also leads to cravings, a  sign that the body is working very hard to bringer hormones back to its normal levels. You may want to get yourself checked for thyroid, PCOS etc.

Number 2

If you workout or are into any kind of fitness, you are probably eating 5-7times per day (yes thats normal, I’m like a cow). I get HANGRY when I don’t have food around me every few hours. Key to kill temptations is not to skip your in- between snacks. You are less likely to eat junk if you eat your in- betweens. Either prepare and keep your in- between’s handy in advance, or pick from readily available stuff like fruits, coconut water, nuts, raises and prunes, dairy free mylk’s (google it) etc. I have noticed a trend of always eating wrong when enough right food is not around me. Plan your in- between’s as soon as you wake up and have them ready to go. Try to eat at least two snacks per day in between your main breaky, lunch and dinner.

This way you will also eat less for your main’s. Like I always say, “Binge eat on enough right stuff to avoid binge eating on the wrong stuff”. A one spoon ice cream here and one bite of a cookie there will add up to a lot at the end of the day because your body did not get enough in between snacks. A hangry tummy means drop in the blood glucose level- meaning your hands will pick the first thing with high sugar in it to get your glucose back to normal- thus junk!

Number 3

If you are on a transformation or following any kind of a fairly strict diet, make absolutely sure to include one or two cheats per week! When I am back from vacations and see a little belly popping out (again NORMAL!), I get over conscious and plan to go weeks without cheats. Every single time I have done this, it was an epic fail. After day 9, I binge cheat.

Instead adding one or even two cheat meals a day will keep you on track longer and have some social life to look forward to through the week. Make a cheat meal list a week in advance and remind yourself that you will let your body cheat if you stay on track rest of the week. This way you can keep temptations at bay but still enjoy food you love.

On an average I eat about 35 meals a week (5 per day times 7 days), even if I eat clean 90% and allow 10% cheat, that means I can still cheat 3.5 meals per week (wait is my math right? I hope so!). 90%- 10% is an excellent ratio to maintain for losing weight. As long as you eat the remaining 32 meals right, you will still stay on track! Actually better since you will not be tempted to eat stuff out of your plan.

Number 4

Most of your cravings also happen when you are dehydrated. Drink a pitcher of margarita and see how you feel (ok no don’t really do that ). But hydrate! Doesn’t have to be water, add in herbal teas, smoothies, shakes, plant based milk’s etc. I generally start my day with a fruit and chia smoothie, have a protein and dates shake post workout, a green monster smoothie pre dinner or lunch, herbal tea in the evening, adzuki bean and dry fruit smoothie sometime after evening cardio or class if I am conducting one etc. So you notice even though I may not drink water in water form all the time, I am taking in liquids all through the day- and a LOT of it!

I am mostly never empty stomach since water gives a very satiating feeling and keep the bloating away! Alcohol enhances the taste of salt and fat hence making you tempted towards that pizza or fries. Ever got drunk and craved for a salad? No doesn’t happen. I wish though, that would be a great diet tip ;DDD

Number 5

See if your cravings have a pattern. If need be, write down what you crave when. Do you crave more towards month end’s? Could be if you are into marketing and sales and have huge month end targets, stress makes you crave food for comfort. Do most of your cravings rise during weekends? Social activities makes me more tempted to binge eat personally. Are the PMS dates the worse?- Hormonal fluctuations. Prepare accordingly. I personally use my cheat meals over weekends (ok like a few cookies during the week don’t count ;( ) so I can give in to my temptations but still stay on track. Use your patterns to your advantage and not against you.

Listen closely to body signals and be prepared accordingly. Meal preps around these patterns will also help. Most friday’ s I prepare food for the next 3-4 days and put it all in the fridge. Since I do not like wasting food, I eat what I have prepared and cheat no more than 1-2 times out of my 10 weekend meals.

And last, please do not stop living over the obsession of food! A little bit of belly fat is a sign of a happy you. It is a reminder of all the late night pizza and movie nights with your man/ woman, it is all the post legs day cheat Chinese food and momo’s that you most enjoy, it is popcorn fight during the movies, it is the treat you gave yourself for when you were too happy- or too sad, it is knowing that street food will make you sick the next day but still having it because it tastes so freeking good, it is the driving 20 miles to your favourite dessert joint just because you felt so, it is the attempt your man makes to cook you food and it tastes awful but you have to eat it or he will feel bad, it is all the stamps in your passport and walking endlessly to find the “best” vegan ice cream of that place, it is your happy times, it is your love, it is OKEY!  

Those extra 5 pounds do not define you. Do not make falling for temptations a habit,but do not give up on small pleasures for a flat belly- been there, not worth it  ;). Plus healthy flat belly is a long process, stick to the plan and eventually you will get there sooner than you realise. Enjoy this process, this journey!


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