Ten tips to stop your constant cravings
by Simone do Carmo
in Blogs

I believe that cravings are cues sent by our body to tell us that it is out of balance, and probably one of the main reasons why people have problems maintaining or losing weight.

Here are my ten tips to stop your constant cravings:

1) Remove all processed foods and refined sugars from your diet. Your taste buds will gradually adjust and you’ll no longer feel tempted to eat these types of foods. Give yourself at least 21 days to adjust; you’ll notice a big difference.

2) Include a good amount of protein, fibre and healthy fats in your meals for satiety. Eat lots of vegetables (and some fruit) – they give you more nutritional bang for your buck; i.e. you can eat more food for fewer calories, and the greater volume in your tummy makes you feel full. Fill your plate with leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, cucumber, radishes, berries and grapefruit. By doing this, you’ll also be providing your body with the micronutrients it may be lacking and that could be the reason for your constant cravings.

3) Include fermented foods in your diet such as sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, miso or a good-quality yoghurt. They keep your gut bacteria diverse and healthy. Our gut bacteria play a major role in serotonin (‘happy hormone’) production, which in turn influences our mood. Plus, there is some evidence to suggest that our gut bacteria may modulate our appetite hormones; i.e. play a role in controlling our appetite.

4) Drink a full glass or two of water. The lack of water in our body often manifests itself as hunger, so it may well be that you’re dehydrated. If you’re craving something fizzy, choose sparkling water. Add slices of lemon, cucumber or strawberries for some natural flavour if you find plain water boring.

5) Avoid blood sugar dips and spikes. Use cinnamon frequently as it mimics insulin and increases its sensitivity; make sure you get enough fibre and healthy fats as these slow down the time it takes for the food to empty from the stomach, thus delaying the blood sugar response. Also eat foods rich in chromium and magnesium as these are important minerals for insulin’s ability to keep blood sugar levels under control. Examples of foods rich in these minerals include dark leafy greens, broccoli, avocados, tomatoes, bananas, beans, whole grains, dark chocolate, shellfish and Brazil nuts. Also, add some apple cider vinegar to salad dressings or mix a teaspoon or two in a glass of water. It helps you digest your food and has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity.

6) Remove all trigger foods from your home. Mine has always been crunchy granola. If there’s a pack in the house, it will be gone in a day! ‘Treat’ foods should be placed somewhere so you are not constantly reminded of them. Out of sight, out of mind.

7) Get enough sleep and exercise! Research has shown that sleep deprivation amplifies the activity of our brain-reward centre and messes with our appetite hormones, increasing our desire for energy-dense and processed foods. Also, if you sense a craving, the best thing you can do is get up and go for a 10-minute walk or do a workout. It will take your mind off the craving.

8) Use a good-quality unsweetened cocoa or 90 per cent dark chocolate. Commercial chocolate is probably the most common craving due to its perfect combination of sugar and fat. If you crave chocolate quite often, try adding a teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa to a glass of good-quality dairy or plant-based milk, or slowly eat a square or two of 90 per cent dark chocolate. You’ll find that you won’t feel like eating more, and it’s actually good for you. Research has shown that unsweetened cocoa and dark chocolate are great sources of antioxidants, they improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, protect against cardiovascular disease and improve cognitive function. I sometimes use unsweetened cocoa in my morning oats with some good-quality nut butter. It’s delicious!

9) Be mindful and make sure you chew your food properly during meals. Being mindful helps you become aware of your food choices instead of acting impulsively. While you eat, try to savour every flavour and don’t rush your meal. Also avoid any distractions (TV or your smartphone). You’ll probably eat less, it will help you digest and extract all the nourishing nutrients that your body needs, and you’re less likely to experience any hunger after an hour or two.

10) Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach. Supermarkets are probably the worst place to be when you’re experiencing cravings as you’ll end up with a shopping trolley laden with the unhealthiest foods. Make sure you’ve eaten before you go.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be on the right track to stopping your constant cravings!