Saturday, 4 June 2016

Post 7: Eliminating Cravings in 3 Simple Steps (plus how often should you be hungry?)

Hi all,

Today we are going to be talking about that devil in a new dress: cravings. I'm going to be sharing with you three simple steps to give you power over cravings, and stop playing the blame game: the vicious circle of giving in, feeling bad, then giving up.

By making these three quick changes, you’re bound to succeed.

You want to get rid of cravings quickly and simply. Cravings represent powerful desires to eat something delicious and often when you don’t really want to (in the long run, of course…).

Unfortunately, willpower is a finite source; you might say no now, but down the line you’re going to give in.

It could be later that day or later that week, but eventually you're going to be in bed surrounded by takeaways (the bad kind) thinking “what am I doing with my life?”.  

Hearing this might make you want to give up, but the trick lies in managing your cravings and subsequently creating an outlet for them (more on that in another post). Therefore, eliminating or at least minimising your cravings is essential for your long term goals. By following this advice, you’re going to be saving yourself so much time in the future and give yourself instant gratification as you conquer your cravings. On top of that, I’ve made sure that you can use these tips right this second, and don’t require arcane rituals and supplements.

Discipline your children... I mean cravings

Good cravings and bad cravings (sugar-fat sirens)

First, let’s split cravings into two camps: good cravings and bad cravings. Good cravings are commonly for a nutrient that our body desires and we tend to be deficient in. You’ll probably only encounter this craving once you’ve had a little of the food because your taste buds will light up. I remember once simply craving broccoli because I’d been on holiday and not eaten many vegetables!

Next we have the bad cravings, the ones which lead down a dark, dark path (and not the good, dark chocolatey path either…). These are for all the foods which we eat then look back and say “I wish I hadn’t done that”.  

Commonly these foods are pure sugar-fat sirens: dastardly combinations of trans fats and a tonne of sugar which don’t leave us satisfied at all.

Here’s the real kicker in this delicious snickers/poop sandwich: eating these foods are designed to and will succeed in making you crave them more! That’s not to mention the empty calories and the fact that you’ll disrupt your body’s optimum state of health. I call these cravings sugar-fat sirens or SFSs. Once you have a phrase for a certain object, experience, or sensation, you're more adept at identifying it. Work on avoiding the SFSs in your life. How? Read on...

Me post holiday...

Step 1: eat more by upping your meals

That’s right, you are hereby given permission to eat more! Each meal should keep you satiated for at least five to six hours at a time. If it’s not, then it’s time to eat more. If you feel hungry and start to heed those sugar-fat sirens, then it was because you didn’t prepare properly! Getting these signals indicates that something needs to change. That’s why this is step 1: by following this step you won’t find yourself in danger in the first place!

Upping your meals should be done through one of two ways. Firstly, you can add more mass to your meals through a higher payload of leafy green vegetables. This will ensure your body has a tonne of minerals and nutrients, and if you’re the mathematician type, is exceeding low in calories.

Alternatively, you can add more healthy fats to your meal such as through an organic avocado or by using grass-fed butter or extra virgin coconut oil as a condiment! (This is something I do a lot). Healthy fats are an excellent way to stop cravings, since the extra energy can be burned efficiently for improved brain activity, which is why I like this strategy the most. You can put this strategy to work nearly immediately by keeping some emergency fats in your desk drawers.

A ripe organic avocado with a little sea salt is an excellent way to add extra healthy fats in

But what if you simply cannot eat any more? This leads us on to step 2...

Step 2 (literally…): drink more water and take micro-walks

As I mentioned last week your body can often confuse thirst with hunger, and the ability to distinguish the two diminishes as you grow older. If you feel like you’re craving something that you know won’t help you in the long run, drink a small glass of water instead and see how you feel. It’s important to remember that dehydration elicits many of the same responses as hunger: light headedness, dizziness, dry eyes, and being a serial grump.

I’ve also found that staying active is key since your mind isn’t allowed to wander. You can combine these two strategies by taking a small walk to a water dispenser/ the kitchen, having the water, and re-asking yourself “am I actually hungry” in five minutes. If you really are hungry, then the sensation won’t have gone away and it’s time to satisfy yourself with a healthy snack like a handful of raw organic nuts or some 85% cocoa solids chocolate (or dip into that emergency fats draw from earlier!). If the sensation does go away, then feel free to bask in your victory.

The added benefit of step 2 is that you’ll quickly be able to distinguish between hunger and cravings before taking the step, giving you even more satisfaction! Over time, you won’t actually crave these foods anymore as your “I can’t eat that ” turns into a “I don’t eat that”.

Step 3: eliminate temptation

If step 1 was about beating cravings in the past, and step 2 is for beating cravings in the present, then step 3 is all about eliminating future cravings. If you don’t put yourself in the way of temptation, then you’re much less likely to slip up in meeting your vision of health and fitness.

Humans are notoriously awful at anticipating their future preferences; let proactive present-you take care of future-you’s problems!

Don’t buy the food at the supermarket which is going to tempt you later, and never buy foods you crave in multi-packs. The economies of scale here tend to be tiny and pale in comparison to the kick-ass version of yourself you become when you stick to your vision. One particularly insidious temptation is fruit; you really only want to be eating one portion of fruit a day (preferably not even every day), so buy individual pieces rather than whole bags, boxes or bunches. The cost difference really is marginal and you’ll start to see differences immediately.
Shops will try a bunch of sneaky tricks to get you to buy more... beware!

When at first you don’t succeed...

The last thing to remember is that, if you fall down, pick yourself up and get back on the horse. The big problem that many people have is that they throw the baby out with the bathwater and commit to undoing all of their good work rather than just getting on with it. Perhaps my favourite strategy on this topic is sharing. Don’t eat the foods you crave alone and do your best to share them out with your friends (but not if they’re trying to lose weight too, that’s just mean!). It really does help and makes you more popular to boot!

The takeaways

To summarise, here are the three simple steps to eliminating cravings:
  • Eat more healthy fats or leafy greens at your meal times
  • Drink water when you feel “hungry” and take micro-walks
  • Eliminate temptation at the source by not purchasing multiples of craved foods

Using these steps, the world’s your oyster, and the path towards your vision can start looking a lot smoother, rather than those annoying ups and downs!

Have you tried out these steps? Leave a comment and let me know how you’re getting on. If you know someone who might benefit from this post, share to them and see what they think.


Follow me on Twitter @tomcowlin and on Instagram @be.cowlean for daily updates and health tips

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