11 Ways to Get Control of Cravings and Eliminate Food Addiction

11 Ways to Get Control of Cravings and Eliminate Food Addiction

Do you find yourself craving sugary and starchy foods constantly? Most people believe this is normal and just something we have to live with day-to-day…but this is not normal! You don’t have to live with thoughts of food controlling you.

The main goal is decreasing exposure to these food and situations, stress and lack of sleep. Using these 11 strategies will help you decrease cravings and allow you to get control over your feelings to eat.

1. Make the decision to take control.

You first have to decide if you want to gradually decrease the bad sugars/carbohydrates or if you want to quit them cold turkey. If you cut them out quickly, just expect a very rough first week to allow your body to adjust to its new diet. You may not feel well and have headaches. After a month, your taste buds and memory of those foods will change and you will experience fewer cravings.

2. Stop riding the “sugar roller coaster.”

Stop riding the “sugar roller coaster.” When you eat or drink items with a lot of carbohydrates or sugar, your blood sugar rises and then falls fast. When your sugar falls, you will feel hungry and begin searching for your next unhealthy carbohydrate or sugar loaded fix. Get off of this rollercoaster by improving the quality of what you are eating to prevent fast sugar drops and cravings. Start eating high-protein meals and snacks to regulate your sugar level, reduce hunger and feel full longer.

3. Avoid sugary beverages.

Whether its soda, iced tea, lattes, sports drinks or many others culprits, sugary drinks are a sure way to get hooked on carbohydrates and sugar – leading to weight gain. Drinking empty sugary calories increases hunger, cravings for other sugar/carbohydrate laced items, snacking and doesn’t fill you up. Regular consumption of sugary beverages is linked to diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Diet drinks may seem like a healthier choice but studies are starting to show the opposite. Diet soda can actually increase overall sugar and carbohydrate cravings because artificial sweeteners are 600 times sweeter than table sugar. More research is needed on diet drinks.

4. Substitute.

If you’re craving something, choose a healthier alternative instead. If you’re craving candy, try a few bites of a protein bar. Grab a yogurt, fruit, dried fruit, gum, nuts or sugar-free tea that won’t leave you feeling guilty or further increase your cravings for carbohydrates and sugar.

5. Distract.

If you’re feeling the munchies, want to stress eat or eat out of boredom, make a list of other activities you can do instead. Potential ideas include going for a walk, brushing your teeth, drinking water, playing with a pet, calling a friend, cleaning, organizing, finding a project, going to another room away from the kitchen, surfing the internet, exercising or finding something to do with your hands. Just get busy and preoccupy your mind.

6. Question yourself!

If you find yourself looking in the pantry or fridge, ask yourself, “Am I actually hungry?” or “why am I here?” Get to the root of your habit and/or emotions because you may actually be bored, stressed, anxious or simply needing to move. If you’re not actually hungry, pinpoint your actual need and find another solution or activity that will alleviate this need, instead of food. If you’re bored, find a hobby, read a book or take a nap. If you’re stressed, take a warm bath, watch a funny program or go for a walk. Do what works for you and makes you happy.

7. Organize.

You will reach for what is at eye level, when you’re hungry. Organize your fridge and pantry so what you see first are healthy options. Ideally, don’t have junk in the house at all. If you do, hide it where you won’t continuously see it. Remember the old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind!”

8. Eat mindfully.

The average American eats very fast and often while in the middle of another task. This combination leads to eating bigger portions because you’re not listening to your body’s cues. Multitasking while eating leads to eating more since the mind is focused on the other task meaning that bag of chips may be gone before you realize it. When you begin to eat more mindfully and slower, you begin to sense food more through taste and smell making you appreciate each bite. Only focusing on eating, helps you realize when you feel/sense being full.

9. Dodge trigger foods.

We all have trigger foods – the “Once you pop you can’t stop” type of items. You feel out of control the minute you go near them. Not having any of your trigger foods at home and work is essential because it can take just one weak and hungry moment to relapse to your addiction. If those triggers have to be at work or home (for others), try moving them to a less noticeable place where you won’t be tempted.

10. Control your environment.

Many triggers in our day-to-day environment increase our cravings for bad foods. Think about your environment at work and at home. How you can control some of these triggers? For example, if a co-worker always has a bowl of candy out, walk a different way so you don’t pass it. If a co-worker brings doughnuts every Thursday morning, eat a high-protein filling breakfast so it will be easier to avoid the temptation. At home, TV is one of the most powerful sources of temptation because you’re bombarded with unhealthy, food related commercials. DVR shows, mute the TV or distract yourself by talking or getting on the internet during commercial breaks.

11. Sleep.

Improved quality of sleep helps regulate the hormone Cortisol. When you don’t get enough sleep, your Cortisol levels become abnormal and increase hunger. Work on improving your sleep environment by not allowing electronics in the bedroom, reading or taking a bath before bedtime.


The Low-Fat Fiasco and Why It’s Bad for your Waistline

The Low-Fat Fiasco and Why It’s Bad for your Waistline

When you hear “low-fat,” you often associate the phrase with being healthy. Well, that’s probably not the case. It is finally starting to hit mainstream knowledge that the low-fat lifestyle didn’t work. Call it an experiment with nutrition guidelines that failed miserably.

The message was supposed to be about eating more fruits, vegetables and low-fat meats (all of which are healthy)…..but that isn’t what happened. During this time, the food industry caught on to “low-fat” and replaced fat with highly refined carbohydrates and sugars. Our bodies process these differently and they change our metabolism. It causes our brain to think it is starving and depleted of vital fats, which leads to constant cravings and hunger.

Think about it….when we eat carbohydrates (starches, sugars, breads and pasta), we can just eat and eat them – never really feel full and a few hours later we are hungry again. This is the metabolic cycle that has changed our waistlines during the last 40 years and has resulted in a nation that does not have a single state with less than 20 percent of its citizens being obese. Since low-fat living was first recommended, obesity has increased an astounding 50 percent and diabetes has risen by an astonishing 66 percent! Americans are sicker and carrying more weight around their waistlines than any other time in history.

Studies now show there is not a strong link between dietary fats  (red meat, eggs and whole fat dairy) and heart disease. But studies have shown a VERY strong link between added sugar in the diet and cardiovascular mortality=death. Such a strong link was found that guidelines to limit added sugar in the diet were recommended right after the study came out!

Bottom line – eating fat doesn’t make you fat, eating too many refined sugars and carbohydrates does. Those calories add up and more importantly cause a change in our metabolism….and not for the better. And low-fat doesn’t always mean bad but it does mean choosing healthy “low-fat” items such as proteins, fruits, vegetables and using healthy vital dietary fats such as olive oil.

The difficulty now is people have been told for 40 years that fat is bad. Changing people’s minds and perceptions is the hard part. There are now two generations, including doctors, with the belief that a low-fat diet is good for you. Like any change, it is going to take some time for this to change but slowly it is starting to happen.

Twelve Healthy Protein Packed Snacks

Twelve Healthy Protein Packed Snacks

Protein is much more filling than carbohydrates and is a vital component of any healthy lifestyle.  Reach for a protein snack and you will ward off hunger for longer.

Here are 12 protein packed snacks to always have on your grocery list:

1. Cheese Sticks 

Most cheese sticks have low carbohydrates and also provide a small serving of dairy.

2. Eggs

Hard boiled, fried or baked. One make-ahead snack idea for the whole family is “egg cups” or “mini egg frittata.” Simply combine eggs, veggies and cheese. Pour the mixture into muffin pan or cups and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

3. Edamame  

Enjoy one cup of unshelled edamame or 1/3 cup shelled and you’ll receive a good punch of protein with low carbohydrates. You can even buy edamame frozen or dry roasted.

4. Deli Roll

Take a cheese stick (or two slices of cheese) and wrap with two slices of deli meat. For an added twist, microwave for nine seconds.

5. Nuts and Seeds

Some suggestions of types of nuts and seeds for you to try include almonds, walnuts, pecans, flax seeds and pumpkin seeds. Try different kinds to see which ones you like. Just remember the normal serving size is 15 – 20 nuts and ¼ cup of seeds.

6. Peanut Butter

Yes, peanut butter! Buy natural peanut butter with three ingredients or less and no added sugar. Savor a tablespoon or two on celery or apple slices. Another idea is to make a protein shake by combining protein powder and peanut butter.

7. Beef or Ostrich Jerky

The best kinds of this chewy snack are at health food stores. Look for packages with no added sugar and lower sodium.

8. Surviving Holiday Dinners & Office Pitch-Ins

Protein bars and shakes can be a lifesaver because they’re easy, convenient and filling – but BEWARE! Not all protein bars and shakes are created equal and many are FILLED with sugar!  Aim for no more than 20 grams of total carbohydrates and at least 10 grams of protein

9. Plain Greek Yogurt

Enjoy plain Greek yogurt and add in splenda or truvia, fresh fruit, nuts, cinnamon or nutmeg.

10. Cottage Cheese

A simple ½ cup of cottage cheese with fresh fruit, sugar-free flavoring or cinnamon makes a perfect snack.

11. Turkey Pepperoni Chips

Take the pepperonis chips and place on a baking pan at 350 degrees. Enjoy them as a crispy and delicious no carb snack!

12. Quesadilla or Pizza Roll

Take a low carb tortilla, place fresh or canned tomato or salsa, cheese, meats or veggies and bake or microwave until the cheese melts. Roll up and enjoy!