I’m jumping right in today. Because I’ve been getting the cravings question a lot – how should I handle them, how can I stop them, how can I manage them….etc.
I want to share three tools I use to tackle my own nutrition, and…..how I have sort of diminished cravings for the most part, and help my clients. I’m also rolling out these tips with my gym crew AND Confidently Consistent crew.
And when I say diminished cravings myself, I want to call attention to that. MOST cravings. I am going to talk about one thing that jacks up my cravings big time below.
You are busy, so am I. Let’s get right to it. Here we goooooo……..
Keep a food journal sometimes. Yup, I do keep a written food journal sometimes. Like, a super fancy pen and paper (right, it’s usually the back of an envelope and whatever pen my kid hasn’t stolen) with my meal times, and a brief account of what was included at meal times. I probably food journal a few times per year, for a week or so at a time.
My mindset around the food journaling is the big huge tool though. Not actually accounting everything stupid calorie or macro or nutrient that goes in. The mindset is the win during food journaling. Here’s why…..writing down what I eat creates this big awareness umbrella. It makes me REALLY aware everything that I write down. It also makes me REALLY aware of what my eating habits actually are versus what I think they are.
How does this relate to managing cravings, you ask? I can scan very quickly through my food journal and look for clues. Are my meals complete meals, or are they half hearted things tossed together? Am I eating enough at each meal, or too much? Much of my craving stuff stems from those two things. That’s for me personally, and it could be different for anyone. Balanced meals and eating enough but not too much, but not too little, well….those are two big ticket items for me. Missing nutrients from veggies and fruit also cause the cravings monster to show up. So knowing what I’ve been taking in on the regular for a week or two gives me INFORMATION to make changes. I can boost the quality of my meals with bumping the protein or produce. I can boost the quantity of items in meals if I need to. Also important for me personally….am I SATISFIED from my meals? Technically, a calorie counter could tell me I should feel satisfied eating chicken breast, and broccoli, and maybe rice with no butter on it. BUT, is AMANDA satisfied from eating that? I can tell you without a doubt that I won’t feel satisfied from that bland meal. Now, I COULD eat that meal with some minor tweaks and feel satisfied….but, figuring out the satisfaction factor for ME personally helps me greatly diminish cravings.
Also – this one is kind of in my control but not really right now. SLEEP. Low sleep (right now from a slightly unpredictable baby sleeping schedule) means the cravings monster WILL rear her ugly head when I am least prepared. Low sleep, and lots of days in a row of low sleep will have me craving quick instant stuff A LOT. Mostly sugar. Or sugar and fat. Like, donuts. Or gummy worms. Or things like that. Knowing that makes handling cravings easier than just walking around life wondering why I feel so powerless around food. Recognizing that I’m low on sleep helps me manage those cravings better simply by being AWARE that the lack of sleep is driving the craving.
Think critically, not dramatically. Anyone else go up in arms when Medusa (the cravings beast) hits and makes them overthink and get more dramatic than a four year old not getting her way? Yeah, drama can really amp up cravings, and if it doesn’t amp THEM up, it can amp ME up. Getting all emotional about what I am eating or telling myself I have no control over eating is NOT helpful.
Instead, what about taking a step back and thinking critically. For much of this, I can even revert back to my food journal…..sorta what I was talking about above. Is my sleep driving the cravings? Is the fact that I’ve eaten like a bird for three meals a day for the last three days driving the cravings? What about when I had the day from hell where nothing went right and all I wanted to do was eat ice cream after everyone went to bed at night, and not just ice cream but ALL the ice cream…..in the country. That sort of thing. Taking a step back and thinking about what CAUSED the cravings is way healthier (in my opinion) than getting all panicky and dramatic about “not being able to control them” and “I can never get my act together nutritionally……I suck.” Right?
Strategically plan some treats. I don’t call this cheating. I don’t like the thought behind cheat meals. I decide what I eat, and I also decide that no food is bad or ever off limits (unless I’m allergic, and I’m not allergic, lol). BUT, actually planning some treats into my week is SUPER helpful for managing cravings. If I know that it’s Monday, and on Wednesday I’m going out to eat with friends and probably going to have a beer or something, well….I’m maybe more inclined to look forward to that beer (or two), and not have beer tonight. Or, maybe I’m excited about whatever we are having for dinner in the evening, and it would go REALLY well with a glass of roscato (kinda digging this lately)…..well then, I probably don’t need to have a peanut butter egg at 10AM. That sort of thing. Looking forward to something to enjoy, and maybe making a trade off (and sometimes maybe not) somewhere else, or planning to NOT stick a treat somewhere. It’s more the concept – do I need to indulge three times a day or three times per week. And, week by week…it depends on a whole bunch of things.
These are three tools that I use in the cravings department that are fairly simple, but get me lots of mileage. They aren’t super high tech, I don’t need them to be. They aren’t super complicated, and I don’t need them to be. They are just little things I use in my tool box that I pull out when the time is right.
OK, I showed you mine, now you show me yours (ha!!!). What tools do you use to handle cravings?
PS – not one of these tools was “chew gum” was it? But if chewing gum helps YOU, then by all means…chew the gum!
PPS – I have a super effing awesome Confidently Consistent Nutrition course beginning MONDAY. All about four core nutrition habits to help you friggin’ rock your food choices this summer and navigate alllll.the.parties. You can find out the deets here ==> http://toughmuddette.com/confidently-consistent-nutrition-summer-2017-e-course/