Dealing with food cravings

 

You know the feeling, you’re humming along on your new diet and exercise program and the BLAM!… you’re hit with the strongest cravings for every food item that isn’t listed on your meal plan.

What do you do?

For most of us, when we are at our most vulnerable (like when we are hungry and buzzing from less than stellar nutrients and calories) – we give in to the cravings and eat anything …and pretty much everything in our vicinity.

Why does this happen? Why do we sabotage ourselves when working on being healthier and and losing weight?

Here are some simple take aways you can implement right now to diminish these cravings when they come. Because, first of all, we can never stop them entirely. Why? For one thing, our bodies are used to a certain amount of food and energy we feed it and when it realizes that the “norms” have changed, it reacts by telling us to EAT MORE FAT! This is actually a good thing if we were really starving but in reality…we are not, but our body doesn’t know this. It also reacts erratically when it comes to hormone fluctuations that occur with stress in our lives, foods that we eat and a plethora of real life happenings that occur.

Simply put; we will have cravings at one point or another. We just need to understand how to minimize the power and impact over us and work on balance so we don’t feel deprived.  Here are some ways you can lessen and overcome these cravings as they come:

  1. Make sure you are eating enough calories to sustain your body’s basic needs. This means calculating (or doing some of your own research on foods eaten and satiety) your body’s calorie needs on a daily basis and then adding in additional calories for your workouts and activity levels. You’ll then subtract no more than 300-500 calories per day to be in a “calorie deficit” and be able to lose weight. The problem with this formula is that many of us underestimate our body’s needs and think that cutting back on calories more drastically, will help us to lose weight faster. This is a bad idea. Another common practice is to eat mostly “diet” food items that give us close to nothing in terms of nutrition and our body is now in hyper-active “starvation” alarm mode. How to change this? Once you know your calorie needs to lose weight (again, don’t cut more than 500 calories a day to minimize your body’s starvation cues), choose whole foods and eliminate all diet and processed foods. This will help to “feed” your body the nutrition it requires, even when you are cutting back on calories so that your body doesn’t work against you to eat more. Choose a large assortment of vegetables (the more colorful, the more nutrients), lean protein choices, whole grain carbohydrates (these are NOT bad for you) and don’t forget to get in enough healthy fats like nuts, nut butters, avocados, and olive oil. In order to create a “happy balance” in your mind and your body, plan to eat a food that’s completely off limits at least once or twice per week. This can be a decadent dessert you would crave or a serving of your favorite fat-laden foods. The key is to eat these fun treats with dignity and a fork or spoon in front of other people, rather than shoving un-portioned amounts into your mouth with your hands. Trust me, this will be one of the most important steps you can take in helping to curb those nasty cravings.
  2. Now that you’re on track with your food choices and getting in enough calories to sustain your body’s daily needs, let’s talk about what to do when you get a craving and aren’t planning your treat yet. Imagine this; you come home from a busy and stressful day at work and you eat dinner with your family and sit down to relax on the couch while watching the latest episode of “The Walking Dead”…when all of a sudden…BLAM! You need something STAT! On a commercial break, you head into the kitchen and open the refrigerator door to stare into the abyss…what do I want? What do I want? ..you ask yourself. You close the door and open the pantry door, only to repeat the process again. You may go back to the refrigerator and stare again…hoping to find what you’re looking for. But guess what? If you ever find yourself doing this, standing in front of the open refrigerator or pantry wanting something …but not quite sure what that something is…close the door and go someplace quiet. Sit down and feel that emotion. Because, that feeling of “wanting something” and not knowing what you want in food…means you are hungry for something emotional. It could mean you need to cry. You might need a hug and a close friend or loved one to listen to something that’s bothering you. You might need to grab a pillow and beat the crap out of it. Whatever it is, it is not about food. This is huge. We use foods for so many things and we wear foods when we overdo it on the emotional things. Start a journal and write down what happened that day and what you felt and start to process your emotional ties to food. Food used in this way is no different than overdoing it on a drug or alcohol. It gives us a rush of a good feeling and takes away that emotional need – but only for a brief moment. Then it passes and we need more…or we stop and find out how to deal with that emotion. I know, this one is deep but it’s important to get ahold of.
  3. Hormones and habits. I really don’t have much more to say except they can wreak havoc on our healthy plans. We may be humming along just fine and then BLAM!…we want to eat everything covered in chocolate. Or we may prefer crunchy foods when stressed out and hormones get out of control. Another issue is the habits we’ve created in eating certain foods when we feel these hormone surges. This takes some time to break. Again, it isn’t easy to do but trust me, it’s EVERYTHING as you move forward in your weight loss and fitness goals. Journaling will help you find patterns that bring about specific cravings and you can then learn how to better deal with them before they show up. One important thing to realize too, is when you give in to your craving and binge…you need to accept what happened and move on. Don’t beat yourself up or throw in the towel. Find out what happened and why you had your break down…and deal with it better the next time around. Because there will be a next time if you don’t…and there might be a next time even if you do.

 

There you have it on simple solutions for your emotional eating. I struggled with this for many years and the only other thing I didn’t mention above is getting therapy when dealing with deeper emotional needs. I hope this helps you today and shoot me a message if you would like to share your story or questions with me! 🙂

Depression Hurts – Foods that can heal

Have you ever felt down in the dumps? I’m not just talking about getting sad about something in general and then being able to move along with a simple smile and mindset shift.

 

I’m talking about downright feeling depressed. Heaviness. Exhaustion. Fatigue. Sadness…these are some of the feelings that may come.

Getting help is key but there’s also much to be said about the foods we eat that have long term effects on our moods and overall well being. These are what has been helping me offset the sad moods more often and even when they hit; they are much shorter lived than in the past. What have you got to lose besides feeling unhappy more than you need to? I’ve even been able to completely get off of my medications that I needed for a time but it takes consistency to daily habits so don’t go thinking you will feel happy as a clam after one healthy day, got it? 🙂

As I’m sure you’ve done in the past (or even presently), I see many people reach for unhealthy food choices when they have a bad day. Think deep fried foods, fast foods and anything with an overload of sugar and chocolate. These are commonly thought of as “comfort” foods but they are actually making matters worse in the long run. These food choices make us feel tired and sleepy, they raise our blood sugars – only to come crashing down soon after. They leave us feeling bloated, agitated, sick to our tummies…not to mention still hungry and wanting more. Do you know??

Wouldn’t you rather have foods that are both delicious and good for you while helping to boost your moods at the same time? I know I would! (oh, wait, I actually DO!).  The first step is to realize that we should start to change the response of reaching for foods as comfort when dealing with a bad day. This only creates an emotional eating pattern; and one I fought years with. The tips I’m sharing here have helped me overcome the patterns and led to a happier mood more often than not.

Here are some food sources to start adding in today, and why:

1. Walnuts and flaxseed

I know, “walnuts”? Right? I mean you hear that peanut butter is so yummy and popular and then there are so much to be said about almonds, which are good sources of healthy fat and some protein but let’s talk a bit about why walnuts and flax is going to be a game changer. Simply put, these contain Omega 3 fats and these not only help with cognitive function (aka: knowledge, memory, reasoning, attention, language, etc) but also help to improve our moods. (happy time more often!) Why? Because Omega 3s alter our brain chemicals of dopamine and serotonin, which is linked to our moods. Low serotonin levels are linked to depression and anxiety (bing bing bing!) so it’s pretty easy to understand why this is critical.
2. Vitamin C rich fruit and vegetables 

Do you remember your mom shooting vitamin C shots into your veins when you were a kid? (oh wait, that was me and I’m slightly exxagerating but it felt like it!). We know it’s good for our immunity but did you also know it’s great for our moods too? Those who are low in vitamin C can feel fatigued and depressed because of it. Some of your best sources come from fruits and veggies such as; oranges, strawberries, kiwi, papaya, berries, dark leafy greens, broccoli and bell peppers…so eat up those colors!

3. Swiss Chard

Ewwww!! Right? Wrong! Let’s talk about why this makes the list…this is a dark leafy green that is high in magnesium. Magnesium is an essential nutrient for the biochemical reactions (the transformation of one molecule into another molecule within a cell) in the brain that help to give your energy levels a nice boost. If your life is filled with stress, then you need magnesium rich foods. Swiss chard is on the list…so go get some! 🙂

4. Bananas

One banana, two banana, three banana, four (not sure why this popped into my brain but it had to be said..) Bananas are filled with potassium, we know, right? But did you also know it’s another magnesium rich food and super healthy to add to your daily diet? They also contain tryptophan (an important amino acid that converts into a mood lifting hormone serotonin. #winning) and are great as a quick pre-workout snack, when mixed with a tablespoon of natural almond butter. YUM!

5. Raw cacao

So you know how chocolate helps raise our moods, right? (and is most likely the best “excuse” we come up with when we get the craving!) The reason it helps boost our moods is because it contains “cacao” (which is NOT cocoa, misspelled!). Cacao contains, anandamide, and this helps to give you a feeling of euphoria. (who needs another reason!) It also contains phenylethylamine which boosts our moods too..2 for 1! The problem with chocolatey options are that they are usually high in sugars too, and the crash and burn feeling that follows can create more problems in the long run. Modification is always key. So instead of going for a chocolate bar or processed snack, get cacao in the purest, raw from and add to your food that way. You can create some fun protein balls, fudge brownies and even put it into your oatmeal to make life more chocolatey and happy too!

6. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are not only high in omega 3 fats (we already went over the benefits of these) but they also contain high levels of vitamin C too (we went over this too)…now you can get both benefits with one option! I love making a chia seed pudding. Just add chia seeds to some unsweetened almond milk (or coconut milk if you prefer), add some fruit of your choice and refrigerate until the seeds swell and absorb the liquid. OMG! It’s so good and so good for you!

7. Shakeology 

If you follow my blog then you know I never skip a day of getting in my daily dose of Shakeology.

Shakeology is packed with supernutrients. Now we know you are probably like, “say whaaaaat, what’s a supernutrient?” Well, you’re not alone. Here’s some info that helps all the above information get taken care of in one spot…and then some!

Supernutrients are powerful nutritional components within superfoods that provide vital health benefits. Basically, they are the parts of superfoods that actually cause the foods to be “super.” For example, a bilberry is a superfood. One of the components of bilberries (which are an ingredient of Shakeology) that make them “super” is anthocyanins, which help support eye health. Therefore, anthocyanins are one of bilberry’s supernutrients. Got it? Great! Shakeology has a smorgasbord of supernutrients in its ingredients, which is why you really do get your daily dose of dense nutrition with each delicious glass.

Supernutrient: AMINO ACIDS

What it does: Are the building blocks of proteins which help build and maintain muscle health

Which ingredients in Shakeology have this: Whey, Pea, Chia, Quinoa, Amaranth, Flax, Sacha Inchi; Vegan Protein blend also includes Oat and Rice Proteins


Supernutrient: PUNICALAGIN

What it does: May help benefit the heart and the health of blood vessels

Which ingredients in Shakeology have this: Pomegranate


Supernutrient: FLAVONOIDS

What it does: Protects the body form oxidative stress

Which ingredients in Shakeology have this:  Spinach and Kale


Supernutrient: SAPONINS

What it does: May help promote nutrient absorption

Which ingredients in Shakeology have this: Astragalus, Ashwagandha, Schisandra, Ginkgo, Tulsi [Holy Basil]


Supernutrient: TANNINS

What it does: May help support cardiovascular health

Which ingredients in Shakeology have this: Blueberries, Bilberries, Yacon, Pomegranate

These are only SOME of the supernutrients in Shakeology that you consume every time you blend up a yummy shake. Not only is Shakeology a treat to your taste buds, but it is also a great way to treat your body to the nutrition it deserves. Are you heading to the kitchen right now to make a shake? Good choice! 😉

So, there you have it. How to offset your sad moods, how to uplift those happy moods and how to keep them going long term. If you think about it, we ARE what we eat (and drink), so make sure you are adding in the best nutrition possible and eliminating unnecessary calories and fatty foods that do nothing good for us except feel bloated, fat and lethargic. (think: cookies, donuts, fast foods, high calorie drinks and commercialized smoothies)

Need some help? Join our nutrition based challenge that can help you both look and feel your best with some great support.