Health & Wellness

Curb Your Cravings

03.14.12 Food on the brain Cotton Candy Magazine

What is a craving?  Well dictionary.com describes a craving as “a great or eager desire: a yearning.”  We all know what it’s like to yearn after the wrong types of food.  At times the adjective ”great’ doesn’t seem strong enough to describe the sometimes all consuming urge to break our diets or fill up on so-called junk food.  Since none of us will get through our lives without ever having to face this temptation, the best thing to do is to learn to curb your cravings.  Cotton Candy contributor and founder of Body Structure NYC Ginnie Hill spells out five ways to reign in your cravings.

Get more and better quality sleep.
Sleep is probably one of the most important, yet most overlooked factors, in controlling cravings and losing weight.  The amount and the quality of your sleep have a significant impact on your hormones, which often drives cravings and hunger. The two hormones responsible for this are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin stimulates appetite while leptin produces a feeling of fullness.  When your sleep quality is poor or the length of your sleep is under seven to eight hours, your body doesn’t go through all the proper cycles. As a result, levels of ghrelin increase while leptin decreases – both of which will leave you feeling hungry.  So if you want avoid that afternoon sugary snack fix, sign off of Facebook, Twitter, Tivo your favorite reality show and go to bed.

Eat a nutritive diet.

Have you ever noticed that you rarely overeat healthy, whole foods? If you’re like most people, you could eat a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream in no time then still feel unsatisfied and hungry.  Here’s the reason: whole foods have innumerable amounts of nutrients that tell your brain when to stop eating.  People often struggle with yo-yo weight cycles when they attempt to stick to low-calorie diets that depend on poor quality foods.  The additives, preservatives, and chemicals in processed food are very palatable so we keep eating them but soon get hungry because our bodies have not received the necessary nutrients.  Forget counting calories and eat a diet 90% of the time that consists of high-quality protein from grass-fed meats, free-range poultry and eggs, and wild-caught fish; include healthy carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables; consume fats from coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, and nuts.  Your body will not only know when to stop eating, but your blood sugar will be stable for several hours, and cravings will subside.

Don’t skip meals.

Most of us lead extremely busy, high-stress lives and don’t make meal planning a priority; or we think that by skipping a meal we can cut calories. This lack of planning is a surefire way to induce junk-food cravings or nighttime binge eating.  Skipping meals lowers metabolism and causes a state of extremely low blood sugar.  When this happens, your brain will find the quickest way to bring that blood sugar back up, which for many of us means grabbing easy and available options including processed carbohydrates, sugar, and caffeine.  Make sure to not go longer than four or five hours without eating a nutrient-dense meal or snack.

Include protein or some fat in every snack or meal.

Even healthy carbohydrates, such as fruit, can cause a surge in blood sugar and then create a drop a short time later, leaving you unsatisfied and craving a quick fix.  This can be easily rectified by adding some high-quality protein or fat to snacks and meals.  Some simple, healthy choices include a serving of nuts or nut butter, turkey slices, one-third of an avocado, or an ounce of organic cheese.

Consider eliminating sugar and artificial sweeteners for at least two weeks.

Typically, you should avoid an all-or-nothing approach in dieting. But this tactic is sometimes necessary when it comes to sugar.  Sugar and artificial sweeteners are highly addictive for some as they affect brain chemistry by raising beta-endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, our feel-good neurotransmitters.  A temporary elimination is all it takes for some to change taste palates.

Final Note: Your body is more like a chemistry lab than a bank account.  Balance your hormones, your brain chemistry by providing your body with the proper nutrients required.  Your cravings will go away, and you can get off the yo-yo roller coaster for good.

Cotton Candy Magazine®