I think every client at one point has asked me this question: “Ginny, how do I curb the intense craving I have for _______ (insert your food drug of choice: sweet, salty or fried)?” It is such a good question, one I am continually trying to figure out myself. I’ve heard and given so many answers: “substitute fruit for chocolate” or “go for a walk outside with your family.” All great ideas. All great intentions. You may have tried them. I know I have. But sometimes that craving for something sweet, salty, or fried still lingers. Why?
Honestly, I do not think it is a simple answer. I think it has layers:
The food industry’s ways and science behind getting us to buy their food(s) (read more about this in an extensive article called, The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food, here). We crave because we are told or programmed to crave.
Failing to eating consistently (every 3 – 4 hours throughout the day). A ravenous person is not a rational person.
The emotions you feel about the craving. How does eating this bag of chips or sleeve of Girl Scout cookies make you feel? Does it make you feel comforted or happy? Asking those questions could take you to why you crave Thin Mints so intensely.
The addicting ingredients like refined sugar (aka: a bag of M&Ms), salt (aka: a bag of chips), trans-fat (aka: French fries), and chemicals (aka: processed foods like Oreos to Wheat Thins) that make you continually crave these foods.
The absence of eating enough of the foods your body TRULY craves. Foods from God’s good earth are meant to feed our body. Those are the kinds of food that truly satisfy. They give us energy, longevity, and sustainability.
So how do you truly curb intense cravings? Again, there is no simple answer, but I believe you can start by doing the following:
1. Avoid buying processed foods. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and stay away from the middle aisles. Buy foods that come from the earth (or eat from the earth). Skip putting foods with a long list of ingredients or ingredients you cannot pronounce in your grocery bag. The battle is won at the grocery store!
2. Eat every 3 – 4 hours. Make sure your snacks have 100 – 150 calories, protein, and fiber. Protein and fiber will not only satisfy your immediate hunger, but keep you satisfied (and your hand out of the bag of chips) for several hours until time for your next meal or snack.
3. Journal your emotions. Write down the emotion you feel when a craving (salty or sweet) presents itself. Once you identify that emotion, you can develop a strategy besides food that meets that emotional need. You could discover that going for a 10 - 15 minute walk in the afternoon will improve your sinking spell even better than a chocolate chip cookie!
4. Clear your kitchen of processed foods. Throw away the boxes, cans, and bags of food that can live in your kitchen cabinet for several months. No reason to have those there as a temptation. Stock your fridge with fruit, vegetables, eggs, hummus, and lean meat, and the the pantry with nuts, nut butters, and natural protein bars for grab-n-go snacks.
5. Eat an organic, plant based diet sprinkled with a little meat. Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, millet, buckwheat, sweet potatoes), nuts, beans, lentils, and lean meats (fish, turkey, chicken).