What to do when cravings hit hard?
If I could change my middle name, it would be Snacks. I know many other people who love snacking, especially on the types of food that are not so good for our health and waistline. Cravings are not limited just to snack-type foods, but it is a common sensation that weighs many of us down during our efforts to shed some body fat. During these times, we rely heavily on self-discipline, and more often than not we end up giving in to our bad habits while gaining back all the weight we tried so hard to lose. So what can we really do when cravings hit hard?
Get up and move your body
Yes, getting up from your seat and literally going for a walk around the block or just to get up and doing something that involves moving your body. This can include gardening, cleaning the house, getting on a phone call while pacing around the room or better yet outside. Often, cravings hit us when we're bored and have nothing else on our minds, and moving our bodies forces our mind to focus on something else other than food and indulgence.
Even if you do end up giving in to that muffin at the end of your walk, it's the habit of moving your body when you're craving foods that count. The more you practice this habit every time a craving hits, the less and less you'd be likely to give in to it over time. In time you'll not only realize that getting some fresh air helps you feel even better than before you started, but you'll also start drinking more water by default and in return cravings will start to diminish.
Drink more water
Dehydration is one of the biggest causes of sweet and savory cravings. As a baseline to keep your body functioning regularly, 1L of water daily is recommended. However, this isn't a recommendation to help your body function optimally. What I mean is that the more dehydrated your body is, the more tired and sluggish you'll feel. The quickest fix for the body during this time is to signal you for quick and higher calorie foods to help it survive, hence your cravings for heavily salted and sugary foods.
By increasing your water intake, you won't notice a massive change right away. However, if you keep up the good work and be conscious about having more than 1L of water a day, you'll start to realize the compounding effect it'll have not only on your energy levels but on your cravings too.
A mental escape
Many people turn to food for comfort during tougher times, this can slowly become a deeply ingrained habit of picking up food to run away from reality momentarily. It's a common habit to snack at work around 3pm - 5pm when things are slow, UberEats for dinner after a long day, a couple of snacks while watching Netflix on the couch, pizza on Fridays, Greasy Saturday foods, cakes on Sundays, and wine every other night. Sounds familiar? Some people just really love food, however, that's not most of us. Think about it, has gaining a few kilos diminished your confidence? Has it diminished your performance at work? Has it held you back from your intimate relationship? If it has, it has definitely done more damage than you gaining "just a few kilos". It's taking away from your life.
Starting to remember how you were quite fit and active awhile ago, and it all felt like a slippery slide downhill once you started giving into food for comfort? It's because it is a slippery slide of compounded effects. Eating high sugar and sodium foods causes you to feel sluggish and bloated, as a result, we start sitting on the couch more with even more food on our laps. Soon after, we stop keeping up with our exercise routines because we're feeling more and more tired during the day and can't find any left by the end of work to go out and do the things that kept us active like before. The further we fall off-trail, the harder it is to get back.
Even though this isn't entirely your fault, it is definitely entirely your choice to take the steps necessary to get back on track by facing reality face on. Finding it difficult to concentrate at work from 3pm - 5pm? Get up and go for a 15-minute around the block. Tired from work that day? Pull out a yoga mat and start a 20-minute stretch. Itching for that wine at the end of the day? Make yourself a juice or healthy smoothie while you listen to an empowering podcast that'll set you in the right mindset for the next day ahead. Stop escaping your mental struggles with food, instead start doing something that will help you physically refresh so that you're ready to tackle life with a clear mind. If there's one thing I'd like you to leave with, it's to listen to more audiobooks and podcasts. They will push you to be better by being mentally stronger, so start downloading them and incorporate listening to them in your daily routine.