You have full intentions of eating healthy all day. You have your yogurt, fruit and nuts for breakfast, a big healthy salad for lunch and some grilled chicken and veggies for dinner.
You’ve done a fantastic job!
And now you can’t stop yourself from having your favorite snack while relaxing in front of the TV. You eat one snack that leads to another and another. Next thing you know it’s a junk food free for all.
Aaaaah, this happens all the time, and you can’t seem to stop!
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone.
Whether it’s the 4 pm pick me up snack, the graze all-day snacking, or the after-dinner one, a lot of people have this frustrating challenge.
Ready to tell the “it’s time to snack” voice in your head to shhhhhhh?
A lot of the time, snacking at the same time every day is well….habit.
So even though you’re full, the little voice in your head says, “Hey, don’t you know it’s snack time?” “Where’s my chips, it’s okay to have them, don’t worry, we won’t have them tomorrow. Today is the last day”
Grrrr, annoying voice.
First of all, don’t be upset with yourself for having this voice or for it telling you things that aren’t true. We all have one. We just need to manage it – With LOVE.
The first thing to do is to notice the voice. Once you become aware it’s there, then you can choose to do something about it.
Annoying voice, “Hey, don’t you know it’s snack time?”
You “Oh, you’re back again today. Okay, I hear what you’re saying, I understand that we normally have chips now, but not today. Don’t worry; you’re safe and full”.
Now is when it can get really loud and persistent. “But I want the chips….how about now? It’s been 5 minutes….can I have them now?”
This is when you laugh. Yup, laugh at your thoughts about the chips you NEED. You actually don’t NEED them; you’re just used to having them. So, tell yourself that.
Talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend. Would you get upset with her? Yell at her? Or just give her loving encouragement?
I’m going to guess you’d give her loving encouragement, so do the same for yourself and that chip needing voice.
Now grant it not all cravings are going to just go away with just talking to the ‘chip needing voice.’ It takes time, and it helps, but you need to incorporate a few other things, so you’re not always taxing your willpower.
Willpower actually has nothing to do with avoiding cravings, and to give into them as I mentioned, isn’t a character flaw.
Have you noticed that you only crave certain foods?
I’m going to guess you’ve ever had a craving for steamed cauliflower or fish.
We all know alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine affect your brain, but certain foods do too. Their chemical makeup is reacting in your body, just like an addictive drug would.
If you’re freaking out right now, I completely understand. But have you ever heard the saying knowledge is power? Well, you’re now going to have the power to stop your cravings.
The foods we normally crave are:
Sugar, Sugar-Fat Mixes and Starchy Foods
The sugar you eat triggers the release of natural opiates in your brain (yup, your body produces these). They’re natural painkillers, similar to the endorphins you get after intense cardiovascular exercise. That’s why you’re happy AFTER you exercise.
Your naturally made opiates signal the release of dopamine (yup, you make that too), a brain chemical responsible for the feeling of pleasure.
So, we like sugar, sugar-fat mixes and starchy foods like cake, cookies and fried foods because your body, doing its normal thing, says yum yes, please and releases the feeling of pleasure.
If you decide to eat the same sugary-fat snack a few days in a row, well now your brain remembers the food, because ‘yum yes please’, and sets off that daily alarm to nag you until you eat that food again. That way, more dopamine can be released, exactly like a drug addiction.
Chocolate is a quadruple threat. Nooooo, not by beloved chocolate!
It contains opiates, caffeine, and stimulants called theobromine and phenylethylamine, all of which are addictive.
Hold on I thought chocolate was good for you?
Well, the unprocessed organic cocoa has the health benefits. So having some of 70% or higher dark chocolate on occasion is okay. But if you find that you crave chocolate, then no, you need to ditch it. At least until you’re only able to have some of the good stuff (70%) once and a while.
Do you have trouble staying away from cheese?
Well, there are opiates in cheese too. They’re called casomorphins and they come from you digesting the milk protein. They can also trigger dopamine in your brain, making you feel happy. Which makes your brain think “Yum, yes please let’s have this all the time”.
Now that we know what the culprits are, here are
5 Ways to Quiet Your Cravings
(or your inner ‘it’s time to snack’ voice)
1. Eat Enough Throughout the Day, so your body isn’t looking for a quick energy fix.
You have your yogurt, fruit and nuts for breakfast with full intentions of having your healthy salad for lunch.
But you get busy and work through lunch; you think, “it’s okay. I’ll wait until dinner”.
Well, 4 pm comes around and now your REALLY hungry.
Your inner snack voice goes to “it’s time to eat, and your rabbit food salad isn’t going to cut it.” Now it’s time for ALL of the crave foods, pizza, fries, cheese, fast food here I come. At this point, your body wants no NEEDS it’s energy fix. I’m sure some variation of this has happened to you.
Eating regularly throughout the day for your unique body is going to stop this particular problem in its tracks.
2. Drink at Least 2 Liters of Water a Day
I know it may seem like a lot, but our bodies are made up of approximately 70% water, so we need to replenish what we lose through sweating and elimination. That way we can function at our best and all of our body’s systems get the water they need work.
That’s why your body can send a signal for hunger (hello inner snack voice) when it’s actually thirsty.
3. If You’re Having an Intense Craving, Do a Habit Interrupt
If it’s your habit to have a ‘not so healthy’ snack while watching TV, confuse your inner snack voice by changing the habit.
- Get up and brush your teeth (the minty flavor can help).
- Go for a 10-minute walk
- Go and do ANYTHING different than you usually do.
This usually confuses the inner snack voice, and it will quiet down.
4. Replace Sweets/Candy with Fruit Instead
Sometimes all you want after a meal is something sweet. You may gravitate towards junk food out of habit. Try one or two strawberries, a few raspberries or any kind of berry. That usually satisfies the sweet tooth craving, and it’s a much healthier option.
Don’t have a house full of snacks that you’re always looking at.
When you’re trying to ditch your cravings, one of the hardest things is always seeing the junk food you crave. You open the pantry to get a spice for your dinner, and there are the chips, chocolate, heck ALL the snack food, right in front of you.
Set yourself up for success by getting these out of the house. At least until your inner snack voice has learned to shhhhhhhh.
Don’t Always Deny Yourself
Having daily cravings isn’t a good thing. YOU want to decide what to eat and when. You want to be in control, not that inner snack voice.
But denying yourself completely could have the opposite effect and make you fixate on what you have told yourself you can’t have.
You shouldn’t deny yourself the pleasure of your birthday cake, girls’ night out snacks, or some chocolate once and a while.
Once your cravings are gone, and you’re able to decide what and when you have snacks. Give yourself permission to treat yourself.