Today I am talking about food cravings, which is always a hot topic. First, I want to normalize cravings and tell you that experiencing food cravings is okay. All foods fit as part of a healthy diet, and it is important to honour your cravings and eat what you feel like eating! In no way do I want to demonize any foods. Instead, I hope to help you notice any patterns and understand your cravings better, especially if they feel constant, recurrent and overly powerful.
The first step to understanding your food cravings is to be an observer. I encourage you to ask yourself a few questions and observe the feelings the come up. Do you experience food cravings every day? Do you have to exert a lot of willpower to eat or avoid eating certain foods throughout the day? Does food take up a lot of mental space and energy? Do you notice any specific time of day, week or month that you crave certain foods? If you answered yes to any of these questions, the following tips may be helpful at connecting you with your body and your food cravings.
Before I get into these tips, I do want to acknowledge that cravings are complex. This blog post is very basic and is meant to be a starting point. There are many other reasons we may experience cravings, such as hormonal changes, nutrient-deficiencies, emotional/psychological factors and food marketing influences (like do you always crave food after watching a lot of T.V. or even strolling through the grocery store?). It is always best to work with a professional 1:1 with any true health concern, but I do believe this post offers safe and sound advice for the general public, and can be used as a first step!
The #1 reason we crave foods is because we are hungry! Try to prevent yourself from getting excessively hungry throughout the day by eating regular meals and snacks. When we are making decisions around food from a conscious place, instead of pure starvation mode, we are more likely to eat foods that we truly want, and do so with intention. Starvation mode will have you craving foods high in fat and sugar, since our biological drive is ensuring that you get quick sources of energy that can then sustain you for a long time. Again, this is normal and EVERYONE’s body goes through this response when super hungry. The best thing to do, is prevent yourself from getting too hungry!
A little bit of planning goes a long way when we are trying to prevent hunger. Bringing snacks with you throughout the day, and scheduling regular meal breaks can be super helpful and even necessary!
Deprivation and Restriction
Along with being hungry, a history of depriving or restricting foods will likely lead to you craving those foods. The more you restrict and deprive yourself, the more likely you are to crave foods. Although this topic is beyond the scope of this blog post, it is something important to keep in mind. If this is a concern for you, I encourage you to work with a nutritionist or dietitian to help find a good balance for you. Eating foods you love regularly and without restriction is all part of a healthy relationship with food, and overall a balanced diet.
A Balanced Plate
Another tip would be to look at your plate. A well balanced plate will keep you full and satiated throughout the day, minimizing cravings for other foods. Start by incorporating these key components at every meal and see how you feel!
Fiber is one of the most important nutrients for promoting optimal health, and to help keep us full and satiated. Fibre allows food to move through our system slowly, and for sugar to be released in our blood stream at a slow pace. This can prevent blood sugar spikes and thus hunger and cravings. High fibre foods are vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans/legumes and seeds.
Proteins are an essential macronutrient, and helps improve fullness, as well as regulating our blood sugar. Healthy protein choices are chicken, meat, fish, nuts, plant seeds, legumes like beans and lentils, eggs, and dairy.
Healthy fat can help you manage your cravings and promote the feeling of fullness and satiety. Many people limit their fat intake when trying to lose weight, which can decrease fullness, satiety and can in itself lead to constant cravings. Healthy fat sources include olive oil, nuts like almonds and walnuts, avocados, seeds, such as hemps seeds, flax seeds and chia seeds, and fish like salmon or mackerel.
The Salty and Sweet Back-And-Forth
From a taste perspective, extreme salt can cause a craving for a food high in sugar, and vice-versa. If you experience regular sugar cravings, one thing you can look into is your salt consumption. If you eat a diet high in salt, it can be contributing to sugar cravings. As well, if you eat foods throughout the day that are super sweet, it may lead to salt cravings. Balancing out the extremes can be helpful here!
Aerobic exercise, or cardio, is a type of exercise that pumps your heart rate up. Studies have shown that those who engage in 30 minutes of cardio in the morning have higher satiety levels throughout the day. Going for a run, a swim or dancing around your living room can help you feel good, but also help with your cravings throughout the day.
Thank you for reading this post! Eating our favourite foods is definitely encouraged around here, and one of life’s greatest pleasures. However, if you feel out of control around food and your cravings, it can be a sign something else is going on- and that is the point of the post today. I hope this post is helpful and I hope that you approach your cravings with curiosity, kindness and patience :)
Please let me know if these tips have been helpful, and if you need extra nutrition support or coaching, please do not hesitate to reach out!