Starting your clean eating journey doesn’t always come easy, there are inevitable struggles our clients run into, such as cravings. Do you ever get an irresistible urge to eat an entire bag of chips, even though you're not hungry? You must know, you're not alone. As humans, most of us experience cravings at some point and they can be hard to ignore—but not impossible.
While it's normal to have cravings from time to time, some people experience them more frequently or intensely than others. If your cravings are affecting your quality of life or causing you to make unhealthy food choices, there are steps you can take to get them under control. The first step is to understand what cravings are and what causes them. Once you know what's behind your cravings, you can start to take steps to prevent them.
Cravings are strong desires for specific foods. Cravings are different from normal hunger because they're usually specific to a certain food or group of foods, and they're often not caused by physical hunger. For example, you might have a craving for chocolate or chips even if you've just eaten a meal and are not physically hungry.
We often blame cravings on a sweet tooth, bad habits, or lack of self-control. However, cravings typically evolve from factors like brain messages, behaviors that become habits over time, and having easy access to food. When we eat foods we crave, we release hormones like insulin, cortisol, dopamine, leptin, and ghrelin, which help create positive feelings of pleasure so that we want to keep seeking these foods regularly.
Cravings can be caused by a variety of factors, including hunger, emotions, and diet.
Hunger is one of the most common triggers for cravings. When your stomach is empty, your body releases hormones that signal to your brain that stimulate hunger. These signals can be strong, and they can make you crave specific foods. For the most part, this is your body doing what it's designed for by telling you to fuel up when you're running on empty.
Emotions are another common trigger for cravings. Stress, anxiety, boredom, and loneliness can all lead to cravings. When you're feeling down, you might crave comfort foods that will trigger the release of dopamine in your brain and make you feel better for a little while.
Dietary factors can also play a role in cravings. If you're not eating enough of certain nutrients, you might crave foods that are high in those nutrients. For example, if you're not getting enough iron, you might crave red meat.
Now that you know what causes cravings, you can start fighting them head-on with these tips below. You can also take a look at our YouTube short for more examples of how to prevent cravings.
The best way to prevent cravings is to eat a balanced diet that includes all the nutrients your body needs. Eating regular healthy meals and clean snacks will help keep your hunger hormones in check. Stop focusing on things like sugar-free, gluten-free and dairy-free. For instance, some dairy-free dressings are made with Canola Oil. Canola oil, for some, can cause headaches, bloating and increased hunger. It’s time to start focusing more on the physical ingredients and choose the right options to make you feel good.
Avoid restrictive diets that eliminate entire food groups or have low calorie allowances. Make sure you're filling up on clean foods with simple ingredients like fruits, vegetables, and Culina yogurt for a boost to your gut health.
Sometimes when you're thirsty, our bodies confuse intense thirst for hunger. This can lead to cravings for unhealthy snacks when all your body really wants is a tall glass of water.
Make sure you're drinking plenty of water throughout the day instead of all at once, and drink a glass of water before you eat a meal. This will help your body avoid mistaking thirst for hunger.
Manage Your Stress Levels
Stress is a common trigger for cravings, so it's important to find ways to manage your stress levels.
There are tons of stress-relief techniques you can try, like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing. Exercise is also a great way to relieve stress and can distract you when you feel cravings coming on. Find an activity that works for you and make it a priority in your life.
One of the best tools when it comes to fighting cravings is always having a collection of healthy snacks on hand. If you're at home and start to feel a craving coming on, you can reach for a healthy snack instead of junk food that will leave you feeling tired and bloated.
Take a few minutes to look through your pantry and see if there are any unhealthy snacks that you can find clean food alternatives on, such as swapping out a brand of chips with dozens of ingredients you aren’t sure of for a bag that has a few simple and clean ingredients.
Here are some ideas for clean snacks to keep stocked during a time of need:
Cravings are a normal part of life, but that doesn't mean you have to give in to them. If you're ready to beat your cravings for good, it's time to Wake Up and Read the Labels™! At Wake Up, we understand first-hand that diets and restrictions do not work. You don’t have to run or meal prep to turn your health around. We show you how to feel your best and fight the cravings without giving up the foods you love.
Your body will thank you for choosing to eat clean. Check out our Instagram for more tips on how to eat clean and feel better.
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