Food cravings are the #1 killer of diets all across the planet. They’re insidious, nasty buggers that come out of nowhere and destroy even the best of dietary intentions.
Here you are, trucking merrily along with your new lifestyle of healthy eating, and all of a sudden – whammo! – you’re eating a donut out of a vending machine. Not even a good donut…
And cravings are contagious, too. Your friend at work goes out, driven by her cravings, and brings her affliction (a caramel latte and a double chocolate muffin) back to the office for you to see and smell and savor, and all of your discipline and conviction just… disappears.
Are cravings ruining your Paleo diet? Or any way of eating besides the “eat-anything-you-want-in-any-amount-whenever-you-want diet” for that matter? Let’s try to fix that.
Solutions to Your Food Cravings
1. Don’t fight it. Feed it.
I know that sounds weird, but let me explain. The number one mistake people make when they change their eating habits is they eat too little. They either eat too little food in general, or they eat too few carbs. Actually, a lot of people skimp on the fat, too, which can really cause cravings. Eating too little food isn’t sustainable for most people, and at some point your body will take over your brain and make you do stupid things.
So eat enough food, including some delicious Paleo carbs and fat sources, and you’ll be much less likely to need an exorcism to remove the craving demons later. I mean, what would you rather have: a sustainable diet where you lose weight in a healthy manner over time or a crash diet where you might lose a little weight at first, but then your excessive discipline backfires after a week?
So. Eat enough food and always have Paleo goodies on hand (muffins made with almond flour, etc.) to get you through those tough moments.
2. Eat A Piece of Fruit
I imagine this scenario happening quite a bit in the Paleo newcomer’s world:
“I’m really craving something sweet. God, I want something sweet. I could eat this peach, but I’m not supposed to eat too much fruit on this new Paleo diet… Hmm. What to do, what to do… Oh f@ck it! I’m just gonna eat this giant chocolate donut!”
Has that happened to you?
The problem here is that you’re not just setting yourself back in that moment by eating something that’ll mess with your blood sugar and maybe make you feel pretty crappy later. You’re also starting the cycle of grain and sugar lust all over again for the next several days. So if you’re going to have something sweet and you don’t have any Paleo treat on hand, eat a piece of fruit. Or have a few squares of dark chocolate. Just anything that doesn’t have the grains, excessive sugar, and other stuff that you know will set off those addictive brain chemicals.
3. Use Non-Food Distractions
Sometimes the cravings are just mental. They’re only in your head, and they’re just a product of your old habits. At 3pm you’re supposed to have a caramel latte. At 10am you’re supposed to have some cookies. At lunch you’re supposed to have twizzlers for lunch-dessert, and on and on. So now you’re head is kind of like, “Where ma twizzlers at, yo?” But you don’t need them.
So try these things instead, especially if the above tips don’t help you..
- Take 5 deep, slow breaths. Take that time to choose what you really want to do next.
- Exercise, even if it’s just a 3-minute vigorous session of squats in your office or living room. Or go for a short walk. Get yourself out of the situation and brain space you’re in by changing locations for a while.
- Drink some water. Sometimes cravings are just veiled thirst.
- Contact someone who will talk you down from the ledge, so to speak. Someone you trust and someone who knows your health goals and who can help remind you why you would not want to cave to your cravings.
I know cravings are a painful thing, and it’s really hard to just grin and bear them. Try out all of my time-tested, client-approved tips above and see if any of them work for you.
The one thing I want you to take away from this, if nothing else, is to make sure you have Paleo treats accessible to you if you’re a cravings-afflicted person. Especially in the beginning of going Paleo. You’re going to need a crutch and that’s totally fine! Eat the muffins, the cookies, the whatevers – just make them Paleo.
Make large batches of them and keep them in your freezer so you can take them to work with you. You’re not superhuman and being away from those old foods is going to take some getting used to!