Food Glorious Food!
Cravings are no joke. And with summertime activities in full swing, the perfect compliment to summer is fun junk food. We crave those summer goodies. It sure is a challenge to turn down barbecues, poolside drinks, ice cream runs, and vacation food trucks. My family escapes the Florida heat by cooking together and watching television cooking shows. Do you ever wonder why you crave junk food? Not only do we celebrate with food, we are bombarded with advertisements as we scroll through social media. Food is everywhere! I am in favor of occasional splurges; however, there could be other factors playing into your intense cravings.
Why Won’t My Cravings Stop?
The first step to step to reducing cravings is to identify the possible root cause, because it could be more than just lack of will power. Physical factors range from poor nutrition, hormones, lack of sleep, stress, and so many more. One I find quite interesting is how food stimulates the brain.
According to Harvard Health, animal and human studies have shown that foods that stimulate the reward regions of the brain influence our food choices and eating behaviors. When we eat certain foods, the neurons in the reward region become very active, creating highly positive feelings of pleasure so that we want to keep seeking these foods regularly. Human studies have also found associations with artificially sweetened foods and beverages (i.e., diet soda), as their intensely sweet flavor may produce the same rewarding effects as sugar.
This momentary fix is the release of dopamine into your brain which cranks up the cravings. Let’s get you on your way toward your weight and health goals.
7 Tips to Stop those Cravings:
- Drink plenty of water. When you drink water, your stomach feels full, and your cravings diminish. “Experts recommend that males consume15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of water daily and females 11.5 cups (2.7 liters). But environmental factors such as temperature and other health conditions may affect your water needs. Also, drinking water about a half hour before meals can also reduce the number of calories you end up consuming. This might happen because it’s easy for the body to mistake thirst for hunger.” (Healthline, source: Pub Med Central)
- Avoid long stretches without eating. It is key to not go without food more than 5 hours during the day. When you are really hungry you grab whatever is quick and easy. Choose balanced meals packed with fiber and include protein, fat, and healthy carbs in every meal and snack. Healthy food keeps you satisfied, full of energy, and cravings at bay. I have lots of ideas in store below.
- Turn on your metabolic programing. Think of this as your craving switch. Research suggests that the less frequent you eat certain foods, the less likely your are to crave them. According to Dr. William Sears, metabolic programming is a term used for changing your gut-brain’s perception about what is normal for you. Strictly eating whole-foods for two to three months can alter change toward healthy food instead of junk food. Makes sense, doesn’t it? You can jumpstart your metabolic programming with a whole-food diet consisting of lean protein from fish especially salmon, lots of vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds. Nutrition experts recommend at least 9-13 servings of plants daily. Our mamas were right about drilling us to eat our veggies, but who can eat that much produce? One excellent way is to bridge this gap by supplementing with fruit and vegetable plant powders by Juice Plus+. This variety of 30 different plants fuels your body with powerful antioxidants so your body can thrive. Brilliant. No wonder it has been recognized as the #1 researched nutritional product in the world.
- Get the junk food out of your reach. It may be a perfect time to clean the food pantry. Have you ever had a pantry makeover? I would love to walk you through one so you can uncover the deceptive food labeling and ingredients to avoid. Stock up on healthy alternatives. The poor, ultra processed snacks are high in sodium, high fructose corn syrup, fat, sugar, chemical preservatives, and more junk! They actually can trigger the brain reward pathways to crave and eat more of it.
Say goodbye to cravings!
CRAVE IT/CRUSH IT LIST!
- Chips & pretzels: Instead choose lightly salted almonds, walnuts, 100% whole grain crackers. Hummus with carrots, red peppers, or celery, Popcorn with coconut or olive oil.
- Cookies & cake: Instead try a baked apple with cinnamon and walnuts, fruit smoothie, cottage cheese with pineapple, greek yogurt with berries.
- Candy & chocolate: Instead grab some strawberries, cherries, grapes, dried fruit and nut mix, 1 oz. of 70% cocoa dark chocolate, peanut butter and chocolate power balls. Juice Plus+ vanilla or chocolate shakes.
- Pizza: Instead choose as whole wheat tortilla or cauliflower pizza crust with tomato sauce, low-fat mozzarella, sautéed onions, mushrooms, red peppers, olives, roasted garlic broccoli, spinach—any veggie and lots of them.
- Fast Food Cheeseburger: Instead make your own with ground turkey, black beans, or 90% lean ground sirloin. Try it wrapped in lettuce or on a 100% whole wheat bun with lettuce, tomato, and onion.
5. Exercise & laughter
A 15-minute brisk walk and laughing boosts the impulse to avoid a binge because of the chemical messenger dopamine. It is referred to the “feel-good” hormone that is released in your brain during these activities. It plays a role as a reward center hooking you up with motivation and a good mood. You most likely will forget what you were even craving. So when the willpower is weak, go ahead and watch a funny movie or video!
6. Practice mindfulness
Different negative emotions may happen every day. In order to positively enhance your state of mind, you must be intentional. Taking time in the morning to read a devotional, pray/meditate, and practice gratitude can set your day up for success. Schedule short breaks throughout your day to relax. I don’t know about you, but when I am bombarded with stressful moments, I crave chocolate. We need to check-in with our emotions so we don’t cave. One way is through the “HALT” method. Ask yourself am I really hungry? On the contrary, you might actually just be angry, lonely, or tired. Quickly identify what is going on and then distract the behavior by doing breathing exercises while listening to a few favorite songs, a meditation, or podcast. If you can distract yourself from eating for about 5-7 minutes, the craving has a good chance to subside.
7. Change up your routine.
Food cravings are sometimes learned behaviors that are associated with your environment or an event or such as craving chips or candy while watching evening television. Perhaps you have a co-worker who brings in doughnuts every Monday morning. Ugh—everyone is eating donuts! Maybe you could change it up a bit by starting a walking group at lunchtime or bringing in healthy homemade muffins as an alternative. This could serve as a subtle hint for the donut devil to stop poisoning everyone in the office.
Are You Open to Learning More?
I am here to guide you on this journey of transforming your unhealthy food cravings I have more tips to share plus exercise plans, mindful practices, and sweet recipes like the chocolate power balls I mentioned above that you will just love. Let’s jumpstart your health and crush those cravings together!