7 Ways to End Cravings
How often does the thought or the ''need'' to devour a cupcake, a chocolate bar or to eat a whole pizza consume our thoughts ? Let's not kid ourselves, we all go through the same internal battle to fight this constant desire to satisfy our sweet-tooth and/or our love for salt. It doesn't matter what type of plan you are following or how long you have been involved in health and fitness. Everyone at one point or another has had that dreaded moment when temptation is staring you right in the face . But remember, it is perfectly normal to be craving whatever food it is that you want. You need to know that there are ways to overcome these temptations and stay on track. But how?
How Much is Too Much?
I am all for indulging yourself, but where is the limit? The problem lies in over-consuming, especially when sugar and salt are the main ingredients in the most tempting foods. The maximum amount of sugar consumed (natural and processed) recommended is 25g for women and 37.5g for men. One can of Pepsi (or any pop) alone contains 46g of sugar per serving. Juice is considered a healthy option but have you looked at its nutritional facts lately? Numbers don't lie! So, the next time you pick up a drink, check how much sugar it contains. I dare you to put it down and grab some water instead. Sugary foods and drinks stimulate the same areas of the brain as drug abuse. This is why sugar can cause loss of self-control and over eating.
According to Health Canada, Canadians eat an average of 3400 mg of salt daily. Which is more than double the recommended intake of 1500 mg for adults. And we wonder why our bodies breakdown and wonder why we get sick so much. (Literally sips tea...but that's none of my business, right?) I could write about Sodium intake and its effect for the next pages but that will be for another day. In the meantime, if you need more information, visit the Health Canada website here.
'Tis the Season
Competition season is fast approaching! Many other athletes and I will be competing at the Alberta Winter Open in February 2016 which is a short 15 weeks away from today's date. I thought I would share some of my effective tips I use, not only during prep but year around, as a reminder to myself and others it is possible to achieve your goals!
1. Understand your Cravings
The key to understanding cravings is to listen to your body. The first important distinction that needs to be made: Is your body telling you it needs something, or is your mind telling you it wants something? By knowing what your body is actually lacking in, you can get to the root cause of the cravings, and eventually kick them all together.
- When your blood sugar drops, your body may be trying to tell you it needs fuel to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Hence, why you may crave sugar. Whether your sugar cravings are random or constant, it is important to choose the right type of food to bring your body back to balance. Giving in to cookies, candies, or other refined sweets will only make the problem worse. Instead, choose a piece of fruit such as apples, bananas and berries when you’re craving sugar. Think about also adding high-fiber foods like beans and legumes, and complex carbs like whole grains to keep you fuller for longer.
- Cravings for chocolate often indicate that your body is deficient in magnesium. If you’re going to eat chocolate, choose organic cocoa and mix it into a healthy smoothie, or add to your Greek yogurt. I will occasionally have 2 squares of 85% Cocoa dark chocolate or eat a handful of dark chocolate covered almonds. Don't forget to eat other foods high in magnesium, such as nuts (cashews are my favorites), seeds, fish, and leafy greens.
- Wanting salty foods may indicate a high production of the stress hormone in the body. Getting on top of that stress is step one. Find an activity that releases the tension. I like to work out as my main stress reliever. Other options are meditation, doing breathing exercises, yoga, and reading.
-Cravings for cheese and/or pizza often means an insufficient level of fatty acids in the body. Foods such as raw walnuts, wild salmon, and flax oil will cut out cheese cravings altogether. Add ground flaxseeds to your cereal, salads, smoothies and snacks.
-Cravings for red meat usually is a sign of an iron deficiency. Often people crave burgers or steaks. Ladies, keep in mind that if it is that time of the month, you are more prone to iron deficiencies. Eat more iron-rich food such as: beans and legumes, prunes, figs, and other dried fruits. If you eat meat you can also choose lean, organic red meat like beef or bison as a source of iron.
2. Eat Often
I have a fast metabolism, which leads me to be hungry regularly. Luckily, my nutrition plan has me eating every 2 to 3 hours to maximize lean muscle gains and fat loss. Meal frequency not only plays a large part in controlling portion sizes and calories but also in controlling hunger and cravings. Each meal should include lean protein: chicken, turkey, salmon, lean beef, egg whites, and whey just to mention a few. It's important not to neglect your fats! When you eat good fats: Omega's 3, Udo's oil, coconut oil, and avocado, your metabolism gets a stable source of energy to use, avoiding that sharp rise and fall of blood sugar. Finally, eating complex carbs high in fiber will keep you full: oatmeal, quinoa and sweet potato are my go-to carbs. They are easy to cook which make meal prep so much easier.
3. Drink Plenty of Water
When I get bored, I often feel like I may be hungry. But, I know my mind is playing tricks on me. Drinking enough waterthroughout the day will trick a bored and hungry stomach into thinking it's full. If I get tired of water, I will add lemon slices, oranges bites and lime juice for a tasty mix. I also supplement with BCAA's which come in tones of flavour. One scoop of my BPI Sports BCAA in my Blender Bottle two times a day will make drinking water an easy task.
4. Try Some Tea
Herbal tea offers a variety of healthy flavours for curing a sweet tooth without the damaging effects of sugar and empty calories. I have a guilty pleasure of buying new tea every time I go grocery shopping. Here are my two new purchases, I'm excited to try them. Also, instead of sweetening your tea with regular sugar try using honey or cinnamon.
5. Grab Some Gum
I have carried fruit flavor gum with me during my last prep and it helped a lot, especially as the show got closer. Grabbing a piece of gum keeps off those craving for pastries, chocolate, or whatever the vice is.
I came across those packs of gum as I was checking out. The two flavors that stood out for me were Birthday Cake and Front Porch Lemonade. Project 7 partners with non profit organizations both in America and abroad housing, feeding, and teaching less fortunate children. Find all of Project 7's delicious flavors here.
6. Develop Self-Control
Instead of simply saying no to that cheat meal, tell yourself you'll eat it sometime in the future like after that show you've been working so hard for. It takes time and may be hard at first but your future you will be thankful. Visualize yourself acting with self-control. Take the time to picture yourself attaining your goals, note how you feel when you envisage success. Try it, it could be the extra motivation you need to stay on track! Hard work, consistency and discipline are key.
7. Make Sacrifices
Most of us are lucky to live in a country where the standard of life continues to increase. We can buy and get anything we want just with one click. We have an abundance of food and our food wastes alone could feed a nation. I am saying that sacrificing the Kit Kat bar you've been wanting since 10AM is sadly and only first world problem.
I am also guilty of craving a lot of chocolate (and pizza, wine, doughnuts...), don't get me wrong. I came across a Bodybuilding.com article that really made me think about my attitude and how powerful our outlook on prepping for a show or accomplishing fitness/ overall health goals can impact us. Achieving a low body fat percentage is not attained by eating moderate portions of anything we want. Making sacrifices is a must. The same goes for negative eating habits. To be successful, there can be no half measures. You must get into the proper mindset and stay completely focused on achieving your goals. If you decide to give in and cheat once, you will repeat it again and again. I know this from my previous attempt at getting stage-ready. Trust the process, trust your coach, stay on track, and you most definitely will get lean.
"CRAVE THE RESULTS SO INTENSELY THAT THE WORK IS IRRELEVANT."