It’s the biggest obstacle standing in the way of vibrant health -- food cravings. Everyone has them. I'm sure you know your weakness but do you know why and more importantly how to overcome them?
Cravings are slippery little suckers they sneak up on us the moment we feel vulnerable. How many times have you been on a roll taking care of yourself only to fold at the first sight of a donut?
Maybe you were up all night with your kids, or working on a tight deadline and that donut seemed like the perfect pick me up. You don't remember eating it because it happened so fast. But you certainly remember how you felt afterwards; awful and disappointed.
Here's another issue you may have faced, how often do you find yourself thinking about food; breakfast, lunch, dinner, every snack, every sip right before bed, when you first wake up, every moment in between. It's an obsession.
Now imagine how good it would feel to heal that obsession and get your valuable brain space back. Picture what your life could be like if you had control over your cravings and even if you did eat something crappy how great it would feel to shake it off and get right back on track.
When it comes to cravings we tend to think of it as an epic battle that requires willpower and when cravings win we feel inadequate and beat ourselves up. Well, I've got some good news for you; you're not weak, you're human!
Willpower won't and can't win every time, because willpower is mental but cravings are both mental and physical. Certain foods create a physical addiction and the standard American diet is loaded with stuff that tricks our brain into feeling good.
Before we delve into how to overcome these cravings let’s explore what we are most likely to crave. These are the foods that trigger reactions in the brain when we eat them.
- Sugar & starchy foods (think white bread, white pasta, cakes)
These foods increase the endorphins that make us feel happy and relaxed making us want more. That's exactly what happens with drug addiction. In fact a recent study shows that sugar can actually have a more intense feeling of reward than cocaine. It's that powerful.
But what’s with cheese? Now I can't count the number of my clients who have a hard time giving up cheese. I had a hard time too. There's a really good reason for that, casein (the main protein in milk) causes the production of opiates called Kesomorphins and guess what, Kesomorphins make you feel absolutely fantastic. Hello brie-addiction, right?
Unfortunately the more we eat foods that fan our cravings, the more the cycle of addiction continues.
Solution #1: Eat More Plants
Here's the good news because I always have good news. Eating our veggies and other plant based foods helps to rewire our brains, heal our addictions and crave real foods instead.
So rather than focusing on what you can’t eat, focus on finding tasty, nourishing foods you love and use them to create mouth-watering meals. That way without even knowing it you begin to crowd out the damaging foods.
Start by checking out some of these recipes. You might just be surprised at how delicious these recipes are because let's face it if it tastes like cardboard you're probably not going to want to eat it.
Here’s some of my personal favourites;
Solution #2: Prep & Planning
When you plan and prep your food for the week, you plan and prep your success for the week. And the more success you string together, the closer you’ll get to your health goals. Otherwise your goals are nothing more than a wish.
A word of warning: if this type of eating is new to you then you will be getting more fibre than ever before. This fibre will go through your tummy like a tumble weed gathering up everything and shoving it along, possibly causing you to feel bloated, but stick with it, it will pass.
Solution #3: De-Stress
When we dial down our stress and make a consistent effort to eat better, stay hydrated and get more rest, we automatically dial down our cravings. Take a few minutes out of your day to practice yoga or mediate. When you do this you will be so much more effective in your efforts to eat better and feel so much better in yourself.
Solution #4: Essential Oils
Don’t underestimate the power of these little bottles when it comes to managing and curbing those cravings especially if motivation and interest is low. Regardless of whether your cravings stem from boredom, depression or addiction we can condition ourselves to change behaviour using essential oils. When I’m struggling with cravings my ‘go to’ essential oil is Peppermint. In fact a study has even shown that participants who smelled peppermint daily showed decreased appetites, decreased hunger cravings and even consumed fewer calories.
Other essential oils for cravings are Jasmine, Grapefruit and Black Pepper. Put don’t just use any old essential oil. You’ll get the most bang for your buck with Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils. You can find out more about which oils I use here.
Now before we finish up I want to be realistic too because I really want you to succeed. When you change your habits it's natural to have setbacks, you're altering behaviour and biology that's been deeply ingrained in your system for years so I want you to keep that in mind, regardless of the setbacks in your life, you've always got a comeback in you.