Cravings — we all get them. If you asked me what foods I typically
crave, I can always reel off a number of items without hesitation: chewy
oatmeal raisin cookies, cheesy loaded nachos, dark chocolate with sea
salt, a malty ale . . . just to name a few. While trying to eat better
and lose weight, these cravings often became my downfall, until I
discovered where they came from and how to control them by simply
cleaning up my diet.
There was a time in my life when I ate way too much sugar. In fact,
some days I'd "save" my calories just so I could binge on sweets later.
So much, in fact, that I experienced crazy mood swings and terrible
breakouts because of all of the sugar I was consuming. Clearly this
wasn't the best way to shed pounds. I knew something needed to change,
so I decided to take control of my cravings once and for all.
How the Pros Curb Food Cravings
My cravings were typically the strongest after eating a meal (for
something sweet) or in the late afternoon before dinner (for something
savory), so I tried to think back to times in my life when I didn't have
these urges and suddenly things clicked! I didn't experience them when I
ate a well-rounded and satisfying meal. You're probably thinking:
"Well, duh," but hear me out.
I realized I was actually craving calories — quality, nutritious,
"real" calories that provided plenty of satisfaction. Consuming more
calories might sound counter intuitive since I was trying to lose weight,
but I found that if I filled up on nutritious foods such as whole
grains, fresh fruits and veggies, lean protein, and healthy fats, I
didn't get cravings later on. Also, if I got too hungry between meals
and my blood sugar dropped too low, I usually craved something carb-y
and sweet like a bagel or muffin. I learned if I kept my blood sugar
steady by eating regular meals (and snacks) that included protein and
good fats, I was able to ward off cravings.
Eat (Yes, Eat!) to Lose Weight
In the weeks and months that followed, I continued to experiment
with my meals. It wasn't the easiest journey — there were plenty of
times that I gave into my cravings — but eventually I got the hang of
it. Now, one of my favorite meals for lunch or dinner is a big salad
with all kinds of fiber-rich raw and roasted veggies, two hard boiled
eggs, avocado, and a drizzle of truffle oil. The combination of
ingredients is equally delicious as it is nutritious and satisfying. I
almost never crave something sweet after this meal.
I still experience cravings, but when a craving for something sweet
strikes, I don't immediately run to the nearest cookie or brownie. I've
found healthy alternatives for my cravings, including fruit smoothies,
flavored Greek yogurt with granola, and sweet potato wedges (which I
cook ahead of time and keep in my refrigerator for when cravings
strike). Sometimes, even just eating a second serving of veggies or
salad from lunch or dinner prevents me from reaching for dessert. Each
day gets a little easier, and my progress has come a long way. Remaining
in control of my cravings (and giving in to them in moderation) is what keeps me on the path to a healthier lifestyle!