Everybody has them, everybody struggles with them: cravings! Those moments in the day where you know you’re not hungry, but where you just feel you could have something to eat. Because you want to, because your body tells you to. But why does your body tell you to? Have you ever wondered? I used to be one of these people who had cravings all the time, but by now I hardly ever have them. Here’s how I keep cravings at bay.
Doesn’t your mouth just start watering just by looking at this picture?
Of course I’m not a food expert, but I have found a way to do it. So this blog post is entirely written from my perspective and from my experience, and I hope it can help at least someone to get past their cravings. The first thing you have to find out is why do you get cravings: Are you eating enough? Are you eating enough of the right foods? Are you eating regularly enough? For me, I found that cutting out wheat and relying less on bread and quick carbs made a huge difference. What I experienced after every meal was a sugar crush and afterwards my system would crash making me feel hungry again. Sometimes I would be craving food after only having had something to eat 2 hours before! Now that wasn’t right. So after finding out my body does not handle wheat very well, I started to develop some different eating habits which also took care of those incessant cravings.
First of all you have to make sure you eat enough. You have to try and find out your ideal portion size. This will be different for all people, but truth is that if you eat more, you will need more food. Now this doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to weigh foods or do any complicated math equations to get it just right. Just adapt the size of your bowls and plates. I found that a dinner plate filled with food is too much for me. So I portion all my meals to fit a breakfast plate. The only meal in a day that I weigh is my breakfast, because otherwise I don’t know how much oatmeal I will need.
A second tip is to eat regularly. I am one of those people who, if they don’t eat at regular intervals, I get incredibly cranky. So it is in everyone’s best interest if I keep my energy levels up throughout the day. What doesn’t work for me is eating nothing in the morning, or focusing all my food in one part of the day. I simply feel best if I eat a good solid breakfast, eat a snack (fruit usually a pear) around 11.00 – 11.30 and then have lunch around 12.30 – 13.00. I will have some snacks later in the day (usually veggies) to kill that afternoon lull and since I am not home before 19.00 on a normal day, I pack an apple or some other small snack to have on the train. I have a small dinner once I am home and that is all I have on a typical work day.
Once you’ve figured out how much and how many times to eat, the next step is to make sure you eat the right things. As I pointed out, this is where the biggest change happened for me in terms of cravings. When I started eating more fiber & protein that is not wheat, I instantly felt I need less food to get me through a day. Fiber can be found in many different products, but I like starting the day with some oatmeal, just to get the juices flowing. I then eat mostly fruit & veggies for lunch and snacks during the day. I usually have soups for lunch which 9 out of 10 times contain lentils and a bunch of other veggies. And I munch away on bell pepper, carrots and the like for my mid afternoon snack. Protein wise I could do a little bit better, but I usually use almond milk for my morning porridge, make sure I have at least one form of protein as part of my lunch, as wel as dinner.
Figuring out what to eat does not only involve your protein intake and eating enough fibers. It also goes for fats. Eating more fats will make you feel fuller longer. Does that mean you have to run to your nearest burger joint to get a fry up? No. Like getting protein and fiber it’s about the type of fat you eat. You need fats to keep you going, but it depends on the type of fat whether it will help you or work against you. Trans fats are not so good for you, so anything deep fried is not a good idea. But full cheeses, milks, butter and if you’re vegan olive or coconut oil can help you. I personally also love having avocado. If there is one food that you can hide inside smoothies to make them more filling it is that.
Finally, it is important to try and rid your diet of all added sugars. If you truly want to keep cravings at bay it is important you eat as few refined carbs as you can. That includes added sugars in storebought sauces and soups, bread and pretty much any snack you can get on the go. Don’t buy it, don’t get it in your house and make everything from scratch to avoid adding hidden sugars that you never even knew about. Keep your carb intake at a minumum throughout the day and you will find cravings are less eager to haunt you throughout the day. And yes that includes that dessert spoon of honey in your morning tea.
How do you handle cravings?