How to STOP Sugar and Food Cravings
Can you relate to this?
You eat healthy... smoothies, salads, lean protein etc. but still everyday you have an intense craving!
You give into that craving and start to binge out on your favourite cheat food.
Chocolate, chips, sweets.. whatever it may be.
Feeling guilty and telling yourself.. GIRL COME ON this is the last time.
We've all been there... we are all tempted with snacks, sugary treats, desserts and sometimes you just can't say no.
Throw away that feeling of food guilt because honestly getting frustrated about eating your favourite cheat food is NOT WORTH IT.. since cravings are a completely natural sensation.
Reasons Why We Crave and Binge Eat:
Bio-Chemical reasons why we Crave/Binge Eat:
Cravings are different for everyone but they usually consist sweet and savoury (fatty) foods.
They both provide a comfort and satiated feeling, which makes them a go to cheat food.
A hormone called DOPAMINE is released from the hypothalamus throughout the body when we eat sugar or fat.
Dopamine is a happy hormone which lifts you up and makes you happy!
Which is probably the main reason why you feel satisfied and comforted after eating your favourite sugary / fatty foods.
Now here's where the cycle happens..
Having low levels of dopamine can lead to MORE binge eating and cravings due to the need to feel happy and satisfied again.
The key is to find how to naturally increase your levels of dopamine (your happiness) without needing food to fulfill that feeling.
How to naturally Increase Levels of Dopamine without Sugar or Binging Out:
- Create a healthy habit (in replace of your binge eating).
- Call a friend or family member and ask how there day was.
- Exercise, go for a walk, stretch or do yoga! Get active to keep your mind busy.
- Do something you love to do (draw, have a bath, read a book etc.)
Do something that will lead you to feel satisfied and happy.. not wanting to run to the pantry for a box of cookies or bag of chips!!
Sugar is one of the most addictive substances on the planet. Be mindful that it can cause serious health issues down the road when high amounts are consumed for too long.
Psychological Reasons why we Crave/Binge Eat (Mindset):
It's scientifically proven that binge eating can be controlled by your mind and its emotions. Binge eating can be a way of dealing with negative emotions that turns into an over indulgence in food.
Maybe you binge eat / have food cravings when your stressed, anxious bored or depressed. Usually at a time when you are looking to fill a void - with food.
Cravings and Feelings go Hand in Hand:
If you're craving something sweet like chocolate you could be craving something sweeter in life (like love) Or if have a craving for something salty or fatty you could have an urge for something exciting in life (like a trip or something to look forward to)
Personally I find this very relatable. I'm quite guilty of craving food when I'm bored or anxious.
Like attracts Like.
If you think positively - you won't feel the need to fill that void you may be missing with food.
Tips on How to Reduce Cravings and Binge Eating:
1. Eat Regular Meals and Avoid Skipping Meals
To avoid experiencing food cravings and binge eating espeically at night before bed, it's important to avoid skipping meals.
Eating regular meals consists of minimum 3 meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner + snacks are always a good idea to keep blood sugar levels stable).
Skipping a meal is pretty self explanatory:
- puts you at risk for low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- leaves you craving more food
- causes late night snacking + over eating
- provides less nutrients
- bring on potential digestive disturbances
Eating regular meals throughout the day will help you to feel less hungry at night and keep your calories normalized.
2. Remove Foods that Trigger You
SUGAR, CHIPS, COOKIES, CANDY.. YOU NAME IT
The unhealthy food that turns your crank.. just don't buy it. Realistically if it's not there, you can't eat it. Remove the foods that trigger you to eat before bed, when your bored watching tv by yourself... etc.
The best thing you could do would be to stock your kitchen with healthy nutritious foods for when you are wanting something healthy to eat on hand.
3. Balance Your Macro Nutrients
Many of us find that we are eating right like smoothies, lean protein, salads and all.. but sometimes we still crave foods we are trying to avoid. I have found by having a proper amount of macro nutrients at each meal, even a little bit of sugar (in this case carbs) can help reduce stop cravings and binge eating.
The macro nutrients are Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates. If your body is deficient in certain nutrients, or if they're missing from your meals - your body will crave them!
One important thing to take into consideration is that carbs are a form of sugar.
Example A: white sugar has zero nutrients in it, when it's consumed you'll most likely crave nutrients like protein and something savoury (fat) afterwards to balance and replenish there stores.
Beef has vitamins and minerals, a high amount of protein and fat but no carbs (sugar). When you eat a piece of steak for dinner do you find you crave sugar afterwards aka. dessert after dinner?
This is due to the high protein and fat content and missing sugar in the steak.
Make sense right? Your body is smart!
This picture is explaining the examples above.
Technically, the foods you eat on a regular basis should be what your body is craving on a regular basis!
When you fuel yourself with vitamins and minerals, protein, fat and carbs with each meal to supply your body with what it needs, you should no longer crave tempting foods or binge out.
4. Create a New Nightly Habit
To prevent late night snacking steep yourself a hot cup of herbal tea and have a piece of fresh fruit like an apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter or a protein/granola bar.
This is my favourite go to before bed snack to keep my hunger at bay for the night.
I also like to have a hot bath with Epsom salts with essential oil and do some meditation or yoga to prep my body to fully get in a relaxed state.
Watch some youtube videos, look for new music, read, go for a walk.. there are so many things you can do.
It's all about trying new things and DOING YOU to get your mind occupied from snacking!
TAKE AWAY MESSAGE:
At the end of the day it's completely natural to crave foods.
If you are still struggling with cravings and binge eating I would highly suggest to eat more natural foods, limit the amount of processed foods and maybe doing more research about how to enter a positive way of thinking like talked about in the physiological (mindset) reasons why we crave and binge eat.