Even when most of us like to avoid admitting that we have them, we all get cravings from time to time. Managing cravings is an enormous part of a healthy lifestyle that every personal trainer needs to address with his or her clients. If your personal trainer is not giving you helpful techniques for managing certain cravings, I suggest seeing a nutritionist or holistic practitioner. Though each person is unique and requires a personalized approach, the following can help give you a general idea of how to manage cravings and keep the body on healthy road to success.
If you are like me and find yourself craving sugar there are several techniques that help manage your blood sugar. Because sugar is in EVERYTHING, our bodies get used to having a certain amount in our system. It is important to correct this and limit the amount of sugar. If none of these benefit you, I highly suggest you getting a blood panel to check your thyroid.
- Gymnema Sylvestre – I discuss taking this supplement in my post about the Whole 30 and how taking this herb helped my sugar cravings. Give it a try, you can find it with the herbal supplements at your nearest nutrition market.
- Get your sugar from raw, organic fruits and vegetables (yes some veggies do have sugar ie. carrots).
- Try limiting sugar in baked goods by using fruit and by switching your white sugar for raw honey and coconut sugar and use it sparingly.
- Don’t skip meals and always eat breakfast! I often get the excuse, “I don’t have time” or “I don’t like eating breakfast”, to these I always say “drink your calories!” It’s super quick and easy to make a protein smoothie at home with fresh fruits, veggies and nut butter and gulp that down instead of chewing something. But you have to continue to stimulate your metabolism by eating or drinking your calories every 3-4 hours.
- Drink water. Lots of times when you crave sugar, you just need to drink water. Be sure to get enough pure water in your system daily.
The majority of Americans overdo it on the alcohol and I find that lots of clients who want to cleanse their system have the hardest time letting go of their alcohol. The Center for Disease Control says that about 38 million Americans drink too much and only 1 in 6 adults talk to a health professional about it. People are considered at risk when they drink more than 14 drinks per week for men, or 7 per week for women. So when you make the choice to cut back, your body is going to have trouble with the change. So here are some ways to minimize the impact:
- Avoid things that trigger you to drink. For many of us it is stress, so try introducing exercise, yoga, meditation or sport into your life to take our the stress with instead of relying on alcohol.
- Realize that alcohol turns into sugar in the body so don’t replace it with sugar. If you feel the desire come on, drink some herbal tea or alkaline water and concentrate on feeling calm.
- Avoid situations where you feel the pressure to drink. Avoid bars and clubs and find healthier ways to socialize.
Salt is everywhere in the conventional and processed food market, so there is no wonder why some individuals crave salt. So when you start to change your lifestyle and eat less processed, you will inevitably be eating less salt. Here are some ways to balance your salt intake and make sure you still get adequate amounts of salt in your daily diet:
- On the days you workout and sweat a lot, you will lose salt along with water, so it is important to replenish that with good salts. Celtic and Himalayan are the best types of salt to incorporate into your life.
- Season the food you cook. When you start to eat more whole, natural foods and cook your own meals, you will notice that you don’t get all the salt in the typical American diet. Too little salt can be a problem and I notice that it leads to headaches and lack of energy. So long as you season with above mentioned types of salt, you will be good to go.
For those who crave fatty foods, it is important to switch up the type of foods eaten and replace animal fats with plant-based ones. Unfortunately there is a huge stigma on fatty foods being bad for you, but this is just not entirely the case.
- Replace most of your butters and margarines with coconut oil and olive oil. Coconut oil is super healing, and I’ve heard of nutritionists giving it to Alzheimer’s patients and it curing them, so something that powerful cannot be terrible. In addition, I never see clients with health issues who have coconut oil in their systems. Butter and other high fat dairy items can have high levels of dioxins which are not good for us.
- Don’t be afraid of the amount of oil you use. Oils from plants and nuts keep you fuller for longer! Therefore, you will be less likely to crave more fats when you eat enough of the good fats.
This was my biggest problem for years and it took a while to really get it right. I remember being younger and dying to have a Pop Tart. Now the thought of it is so unappealing to me. It’s all about changing the way the brain works. If you are super active throughout the day then you need good carbs in the mix.
- Eat enough good fats (see above) and proteins to keep the body full. If you workout a lot, you need to replenish your sugar levels too, so fruits and veggies are key and do contain carbohydrates that your body needs.
- Eat every 3-4 hours and get nutrition to your body within 40 minutes following a workout. This is key to get the body to understand it does not need a giant pizza or sandwich with all that bread. The nutrition is in the plants and sustainable animal proteins.
You can battle your cravings and win effectively by following these tips. Many of them overlap so use everything you can to take the energy away from what you can’t or shouldn’t eat, and see all the amazing possibilities with what you CAN or SHOULD eat!