Cravings aren’t fun, I know. They can dominate your thoughts, take over your day and make you restless. Getting the better of your sugar or carb cravings, starts with a bit of analysis and a number of thought provoking questions. Here are some simple questions to ask yourself when you find you would literally bend over backwards for that warm chocolate chip cookie.
1. Have you eaten in the last 4-5 hours?If you haven’t eaten in a few hours, chances are the cravings could be linked to low blood sugar. Fill up on a meal or get hold of a protein rich snack. Nuts, cheese, carrots and hummus are all good choices.
2. Are you thirsty?Dehydration can often cause cravings. Get a large glass of water down and wait 20 minutes to see if your body was in fact craving hydration.
3. Are you tired?Lacking in the sleep department is a quick-fire way to bring about sugar and carbohydrate cravings. Ensuring you get enough sleep should be your number one health priority if you’re seriously trying to overcome your cravings and don’t want to be on the back foot before you even get out of bed. When I was dominated by sugar, a lack of sleep would nearly almost certainly have me craving hot chocolate at 10:00 am for that extra energy boost.
4. Are you bored?If you aren’t tired or hungry, are you simply craving distraction? If you work at home or in an office, we often want a break from the computer. Visiting the cafeteria can often feel like the default response. First, rank your true hunger from 1-10 and then try doing something else for 20 minutes. Give someone a phone call, catch up on some social media sites or go for a walk outside.
5. Is it lifestyle imbalance?Ask yourself if your emotions are driving your cravings? Has it been a bad day? Do you want something to make you feel good, a quick fix of happy hormones? If you’ve got used to relying on food as a quick emotional ‘pick me up’ then you may need to look at how you enhance more fundamental elements of your lifestyle to fill the void. Is there a new hobby you could take up? Is your relationship working? Do you need to make a change to your career or work?
6. Could it be hormonal?Hormones can have very strong influences on cravings for some individuals. If you suspect this might be the case, start keeping a diary to track any patterns so you can improve your understanding and start to anticipate your strongest cravings. When you know they’re due, prepare substitutions and distractions in advance.
7. Do you really want ‘something’?
If your craving is still there with a vengeance, and a walk round the block isn’t doing it for you, you may just need to substitute. A cup of chai tea with extra cinnamon, some sweet cashew nuts or indulgent full fat natural yogurt are all things that got me through some of my most stubborn cravings. Find your own favorite substitutions, use them consistently and eventually you’ll start craving your healthier alternatives.
Laura Thomas is a holistic health coach who specializes in sugar addiction, helping individuals get control over their sugary habits so they can live in peace without the burden of daily cravings. A former sugar addict herself, Laura understands the emotional and social difficulties of re-wiring your sugar habits. Sign up to Happy Sugar Habits for a free low sugar snack guide and six months worth of weekly sugar-busting tips.