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How to reduce food cravings

Have you ever gotten the overwhelming feeling that you needed a chocolate glazed doughnut? You want it so bad you would drive to the doughnut shop just to get one? Many of us experience what are known as food cravings, mainly for sugary, “simple” carbohydrates and salty foods. Food cravings sabotage weight loss and can make us feel helpless around food. Fortunately, by maintaining steady blood sugar levels and eating balanced meals you can lessen or completely eliminate your cravings.

Within 20 minutes of waking up in the morning, I recommend that my clients eat a balanced breakfast. Careful, a balanced breakfast is not a bowl of sugary cereal. Processed foods such as breakfast cereals, muffins and bagels give you a short burst of energy and leave you with an intense “crash.” These moments throughout the day when our blood sugar levels rise and drop, leave us feeling hungry for even more processed and sugary foods. A balanced breakfast meal must include a lean protein, healthy fat and complex starch. For instance, a slice of whole grain toast, scrambled eggs and avocado will keep you full for a few hours and will lessening cravings for sweets.

Be sure to eat regularly spaced meals, every 3 to 4 hours, to ensure our bodies are consistently fueled. When our bodies go long periods of time without food, we may experience hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) in which a person may feel tired, irritable and most commonly- hungry! When we are hungry, we almost always make unhealthy food choices and overeat (or have to unnecessarily rely on willpower). Many of my clients, especially those working in an office, complain of afternoon sugar cravings. This is when I stop and ask them to look back at what they ate for lunch. For instance, when clients eat fast food and processed foods, they are consuming high amounts of calories with very little nutrition value. Processed meals lack fiber, whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins- the key ingredients to lessen food cravings. Be sure to incorporate foods such as tuna, chicken, beans, whole grains products, brown rice, olive oil and lots of vegetables into your meals. Keep healthy snacks on hand at all times, such as protein bars, Greek yogurt with almonds or string cheese and fruit. You will be less likely to cave in to unhealthy treats when you are stocked with these snacks.

Last but not least, during times of stress we are much more likely to have cravings! Beware, stress eating does not solve our problems or relieve our anxieties, it only makes them worse. Be sure to maintain a healthy lifestyle by taking daily walks, decreasing alcohol consumption and getting good sleep. Stop struggling with cravings, stop losing control around food and make small changes today! I guarantee a chocolate glazed doughnut will not be as tempting when you are eating right.

April Murray, RD

OC Nutrition Coaching

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