1) Protein – Protein needs to be eaten at every meal in order to curb cravings. In fact, missing protein at even one meal is one the main contributors to carb binges in the evening. Protein creates a feeling of fullness that lasts much longer than carbohydrates. Protein helps to dull the insulin response and prevents blood sugar and insulin imbalances which as you know are largely responsible for triggering intense cravings and hunger. As you include more protein in your diet and turn to protein instead of carbs you should also start to notice a more stable mood and better sleep.
2) Eat Fat – Fat is satiating and eating more of it will help to reduce hunger and cravings. Fill up on nuts, seeds, butter, olive oil, coconut oil, flax seeds and avocados and even meat like chicken and fish. As I mentioned in a previous post if you are deficient in the good fats, your cravings for carbs will be insatiable. Making sure you are eating foods such as nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut oil, oily fish and so forth is essential to curbing cravings. This also assists with mood, hormone balance as well as reducing inflammation (and it’s associated pain) in the body.
3) Eat Good Carbs – As I said in my previous post, not all carbs are bad. We just need to be mindful of the quantity of carbs we are eating as well as the types. Vegetables and fruits, millet, oatmeal, buckwheat, quinoa, sweet potatoes are all healthy alternatives.
4) Probiotics – This helps because it replenishes your gut with healthy bacteria and curbs yeast overgrowth. The less bad bacteria and yeast overgrowth, the less cravings you will experience. To really kill off the bad guys, however you also need to starve them by reducing sugar and carb intake.
5) De-stress – Stress causes not only a myriad of health problems but also causes us to eat more. Learning to de-stress is crucial. It is true that we live in a high stress culture but we can also choose to manage that. Instead of sitting in front of the TV, we can go for a walk, get together with a friend, play a sport, meditate, do yoga or engage in a hobby. Perhaps we also need to simplify our lives. When I got my health wake-up call I never thought I could cut this activity out or not do that role—until I had no choice. Seeking spiritual connection is also very helpful and restorative for many people. Remember you don’t have to be religious to be spiritual.
6) Create New Habits – Saying you want to reduce your carb intake is one thing, but if you continue with the same habits this will be next to impossible. Have a plan in place for when the carb cravings occur and start create healthy habits to eliminate carb cravings. Make sure you have healthy alternatives on hand at all times (keep nuts, seeds, apples in your purse or bag). Ensure that you are getting enough sleep, exercising and that you are reducing your stress levels. Since we now know how addictive carbs are don’t set yourself up for failure. It will take patience and set-backs as well as re-starting. See The Practice-Not-Perfection-Diet to learn about compassionate eating. After years of training your brain that potato chips are synonymous with stress relief or that they equate comfort while sitting in front of the TV it will take time to create new neural pathways.
7) Don’t Stock It – The best way to cut back on carbs is not to buy them. So don’t go to the grocery store hungry. Don’t keep them in your house, but do keep an alternative or you will most certainly end up feeling deprived. Learn to cook a healthy recipe that can act as a substitute that you can keep on hand. Restock with healthy carbs like quinoa, brown rice and oatmeal and eat those in moderation.
8) Sleep!!! – In my last post I explained how sleep deprivation is one of the many causes of craving carbs. One of the best things you can do to curb carb cravings is to make sure that you are getting enough sleep.
9) Drink Lots of Water – It’s fairly common knowledge now that we often misinterpret our body’s thirsty signal for hunger. So before you assume that you are actually hungry ask yourself if you have had enough water to drink today. Coffee and other caffeinated drinks don’t count since they are diuretics and cause your body to expel even more water. Soft drinks and other drinks loaded with salt and sugar don’t count since they only further dehydrate you.
10) Use Cinnamon – Cinnamon is loaded with the mineral chromium, an essential mineral that our body uses to balance our blood sugar levels. The more you can balance your blood sugar levels the less cravings you should experience. Try adding it to your water, tea, coffee, fruit as well as desserts.
A general rule of thumb for your meals is explained below. However, be aware that you don’t have to eat grains/complex carbs at every meal or even at all to be healthy. For people with digestive issues combining protein with grains or starchy vegetables at the same meal can create considerable problems.
Protein = Palm
A serving of meat, poultry or fish should be about the size of your palm. Whether you’re on a Paleo diet or not, meat should be a side on your dish-not the main event. Meat should take up no more than 1/3 of your plate.
Fats = Thumb
A serving of fats should be about the size of your thumb.
Veggies =2 Handfuls
For veggies, grab all you can hold, but be mindful. Eat for energy-not till your stuffed. If you’re following a Paleoish diet, than 2/3 of your plate should be vegetables, the other 1/3 should be meat.
Grains = Fist
Grains are not evil depending on how they are prepared, but if you eat grains make it a small side. Gluten-free grains about half the size of your fist is ideal. Unlike vegetables and meat, you do not need to eat grains at every meal.