Control Your Cravings

The first 12 weeks of any new training program are termed the ‘resistance phase’, your mind and body are struggling to be 100% on the same team regards your newly adopted lifestyle and the changes it entails. It’s normal to have visions of fast food and confectionary floating through your head. What you might not realize though, is that many of your daily habits, like having a too-light breakfast or even perusing the internet can strengthen your hankerings and weaken your willpower.

  • “Cravings”—such a dirty word when you’re trying to lose weight or keep it off. No matter what your “I-want-it-now” food is—pizza, burgers, ice cream, cupcakes—you probably wrestle with what you want to do (eat it now!) with what you “should” do (go eat veggies).
  • Maybe you’re not hungry in the morning, but eating some calories now can keep cravings at bay later. In one study in the Nutrition Journal, overweight girls who ate a 350-calorie breakfast with at least 13 grams of protein had reduced cravings for sweet and savoury foods compared to breakfast skippers. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why, but protein may help stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurochemical involved in the brain’s reward centres that can help manage cravings. A half-cup of cottage cheese, 2 hard-boiled eggs, or a cup of cooked oatmeal with two tablespoons of peanut butter will do the trick.
  • Craving candy? Try eating a bowl of super-sweet sliced strawberries. What about chips? Crunch on salted, in-shell pistachios. Substituting what you’re jonesing for with a similar-tasting healthy equivalent should be enough to satisfy you.
  • You can’t get your hand out of the bag of cheesy chips. If you don’t understand why, you can’t do anything about it, keep a cravings journal. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just jot down a few notes on your phone. When some craving hits, log your emotions: you’re tired, anxious, stressed, bored. Eventually, you’ll pick out common patterns, and you can deal with the causes head on, rather than trying to eat as a solution.
  • You can satisfy your yearning while still eating healthy by pairing a larger portion of healthy foods with a small amount of what you think you want. It works because it makes meals more fun and tasty, but still gives your body the nutrition it needs to function at its best, suggests a Vanderbilt University study. The researchers call it a “vice-virtue bundle.” Order the salad with grilled salmon with a side of fries or get a piece of grilled chicken and veggies with a small bowl of mac and cheese. Fill up on the good stuff, and eat a quarter to half a portion of the splurge.
  • It’s your friend’s birthday and there is cake. If you eat a slice, will you feel joyous or wracked with guilt? Delighting in delicious food rather than feeling shame about eating it may be key. People who said they associated chocolate cake with celebration had more control over their eating habits and had less trouble maintaining and losing weight, reported a 2014 study in the journal Appetite. One reason? Feeling guilty may make you try to ignore your thoughts, a strategy that backfires, causing you to obsess over the cake even more.
  • Straight-up willpower doesn’t always work. It leads people to feeling like failures when they give in. A winning strategy: distraction. One study found that three minutes spent playing the game Tetris reduced the strength of food cravings better than a control condition where people spent the same amount of time waiting around. A 15-minute walk can also help reduce chocolate cravings, reports a 2013 UK study. Since cravings usually don’t stick around long, you just need to stick it out momentarily.
  • The mental battle between you and the box of cookies in the pantry does not have to be fought every day. Out of sight, out of mind. If it’s 9 p.m. and you want a cookie, you’re probably not going to go out and get some, however, if they’re staring you in the face every time you open the pantry, it’s all too easy to grab one.
  • You’ve got good intentions: to eat well, you tell yourself that the doughnut is off limits or the burger is sinful or a “bad” food. But your perception matters. Dieters have more intense and harder-to-resist cravings than non-dieters or people who are just trying to maintain their weight, particularly for their off-limits foods, according to a study published in Appetite. When you deny yourself foods you love all the time, it will build up and explode, making you more likely to binge. Allowing yourself a little something every day, whether you’re looking to lose weight or not, can help take the power away from your cravings.
  • Grilled cheese. A fudge-topped sundae. Pizza. Food porn is fun to look at, but don’t be shocked when suddenly you’re struck with a desire to run to the nearest fast food restaurant or ice cream parlour. In a small preliminary study from the University of Southern California, researchers found that images of high-calorie foods spark more activity in the reward areas of the brain than photos of low-calorie fare. There are plenty of health bloggers out there who create delicious-looking-but-nutritious food, so if you can’t resist food porn, at least follow people who post pics of healthy eats.

At Tiger Athletic, we are passionate about helping you be the healthiest version of yourself, so you can lead a more fulfilling personal and professional life, in your home with your loved ones and in your profession maximising your earning ability from your passion. We use an individualise approach to assess, motivate, coach and educate our clients regards their wellness needs and goals.

Let’s chat about your health.

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