Have you been struggling to overcome cravings? At times we all get cravings, whether they’re because of emotions, our sleep patterns, our stress levels, or something else. There are short-term and long-term ways to fight them without waving the white flag and driving to the convenience store to load up on junk food late at night (or any time, really). Try implementing these tips below to help reduce the cravings you feel and you’ll begin to be satisfied by healthier choices.
In my book The Beauty Detox Power I talk extensively about cravings. I wanted to share with you a little more about cravings. I cover specific types of cravings and how to handle them extensively in my new book in much more detail. There are are actually different reasons for different types of cravings. I know from personal experience and working with my clients that cravings are something we all struggle with.
In the meantime, here are a few tips to get you started for now…
1. Clean up Your Diet
The more junk you eat, the more junk you crave. When you adopt a healthier diet one step at a time, you begin to crave junk food less and less over time. Their flavors may even become too much for you—sweets are suddenly too sweet, salty snacks too salty.
This isn’t a quick fix, of course, but if you commit to one day or week at a time of making healthy choices and swearing off those cravings, you’ll realize you’re craving salads, fruit, and avocados instead of burgers, fries, and decadent desserts. Even telling yourself you’re not going to have any junk for a week can make a huge difference in what you crave.
If you’re just starting out on the Beauty Detox journey, you may have a hard time believing this, but trust me, it’s true! Join the Facebook community and read some of the posts if you don’t believe me. This is also something that I’ve experienced personally. I’m no longer obsessed with getting my hands on those Rold Gold pretzels (nearly daily) anymore!
2.Understand Why You’re Having the Cravings
What you crave could be a peek into your emotional state. It used to be a common belief that when you craved something, it had to do with some sort of nutrient you were lacking. This theory has been largely disproven now (for example, if we were low in magnesium and that is what we were needing, people would crave nuts to a similar extent as chocolate, which we know is not the case!), but cravings do tie in to how you’re feeling at any given time. For example:
- If you crave crunchy foods, something may be gnawing at you, making you angry or tense.
- If you crave creamy foods, fatty foods, or chocolate, you could be feeling unloved, depressed, lonely, insecure, guilty, fearful, or anxious.
- If you crave carbs, you’re likely dealing with some sort of emotional pain or anxiety and you want (“need”) them to calm you down.
Sometimes you’ll be able to identify and address the issue on your own, either just by thinking about it or by journaling, but sometimes you may need to verbalize your thoughts with a friend or therapist in order to work things out. If you’re having recurring cravings, there may be something eating you. Don’t hesitate to get help if you need it.
3. Stress Less
Easier said than done, right? Try to take walks, do yoga, schedule an outing with a friend (a hike, perhaps, or just meet up to enjoy a good meal or some tea), write your thoughts down, re-organize your closet…do whatever calms you down and gets you off the crazy hamster wheel for a little while. Little breaks from the stress make the stressful times more tolerable.
Studies show that when you’re stressed, you’re much more likely to crave sweet, fatty foods and energy-dense choices, especially if you’re already a stress eater. The occasional bout of stress eating wouldn’t really be a problem if everybody reached for celery sticks, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.
4. Give in, but Just a Little
You don’t have to tell yourself no every time you have a craving. Sometimes the best way to shut a craving up is to give in a tiny bit. Scratch that itch and then move on, but do it with healthier ingredients. You can work with it. If you’re craving chocolate, have a square of dark chocolate—but stop at one square. If you want something creamy, whip up some non-dairy ice cream or Raw Cacao Truffles.
A craving for something crunchy could be taken care of with gluten-free crackers or chips (or even kale chips for a truly healthy option). If you’re craving cheese, have a little bit of a vegan alternative or even raw goat cheese (if you personally eat it). Of course, you don’t always have to “cheat.” If you frequently feel tense and maybe even a little annoyed by co-workers who aren’t pulling their weight when you’re approaching project deadlines, have some almonds or raw vegetables nearby on those days to relieve some of that stress via crunchy foods.
You get the crunch without falling off the wagon at all. If you want something meaty but you don’t eat meat, have some tempeh or a mixture of nuts and spices, like the filling in my Raw Gorilla Tacos. All the women out there know about those PMS cravings! Make sure you have some cacao powder and other ingredients to whip up some superfood treats and healthy desserts for yourself and take care of that desperate need for chocolate.
Healthy substitutions are better than processed or refined foods no matter what. Go with what you thing will take care of the craving without veering into totally unhealthy territory and derailing your progress toward a healthier lifestyle.
5. Add Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Diet
Apple cider vinegar is one of your best friends when you’re fighting sugar cravings, especially if you’re battling candida. Candida can cause you to have intense sugar cravings, but apple cider vinegar helps minimize the presence of candida in the body.
Add apple cider vinegar to your salad dressings or drink a tablespoon or two in a glass of water with a little raw honey, stevia or coconut nectar and maybe some ginger (steep the ginger in hot water for about two minutes as if you’re making Detox Tea. Just make sure you’re using organic raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (Bragg makes one).
6. Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand
If you always get a craving for sweets in the afternoon, have something on hand in your desk to munch on that will take the place of whatever you would have caved and gotten from the vending machine or the coffee shop.
This isn’t the same as giving in because you’ll have prepared healthy choices that may not even target the typical cravings. Sure, if you normally crave sweets, you can grab some fruit and if you normally crave crunchy things, you may choose nuts. When you stop cravings before they start, you’re able to get by without caving and having chocolate or “healthy” chips (even those tend to have more oil than you should consume on a regular basis).
7. Have Some Herbal Tea
Late night cravings can be the worst, especially when you know you’re not really hungry and just want something to snack on! Have some herbal tea and see if that quiets the craving.
Having several flavors on hand might make things exciting. You can also try my Vegan Vanilla Latte recipe if you just feel like having something comforting while you watch a little television or enjoy a good book at the end of the day.
8. Distract Yourself
Sometimes cravings pop up as a result of boredom, and most cravings will go away in about 20 minutes if you think about something else for that long. Tell yourself you’ll wait it out for 20 to 30 minutes and then do something else—go for a jog, do some yoga, vacuum the floor, or anything else that gets you up and moving. There’s a good chance that by the time your 20-30 minutes are up, you’ll have forgotten all about whatever food you were craving.
If it’s time for a meal and you’re craving something you shouldn’t have, tell yourself you’ll eat your veggie-heavy lunch or dinner and then you’ll consider caving in to the craving. This works to quell the craving in two ways: you’re distracted by your meal for roughly 20 minutes (at least), and you’ll be full by the end of it.
9. Make Sleep a Priority
Sleeping in on a daily basis may be your dream, but it’s probably hard to make that a reality. Go to bed earlier if you’ve been skimping on sleep, making sleep as much a priority as a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Ghrelin increases when you’re sleep deprived, and ghrelin is what controls your appetite. More ghrelin means you’re hungrier, and in this case, it makes you hungry for high-calorie carbs.
10. Prevent and Prepare
Do everything you can to prevent cravings for the processed and packaged foods, like getting more sleep, diving into emotional issues that are bugging you, and alleviating your stress as much as possible. Inevitably, a craving you don’t want to give into will strike, so don’t forget to be prepared for emergencies, too.
Keep a little bar of dark chocolate on hand, have a list of ways to distract yourself, or plan ahead with just the right kind of snack (like raw veggies or a handful of raw nuts for tension-ridden times). No matter what, remember that you’re in control, and you can fight or work with those cravings without setting yourself back in your plan for a healthier, more beautiful life.