Food cravings can be common when you first start out on your weight loss journey so don’t be alarmed, these stop if you stick at it!
The first thing is to look at why you might be having junk food cravings in the first place.
- Are you dehydrated?
- Are you stressed?
- Are you not following your healthy meal plan closely enough?
- Are you undereating?
- Are you getting enough sleep?
- Or, have you just cut out foods you really love that could still be enjoyed on the odd occasion as a treat?
Often cravings occur because your body isn’t receiving the nutrients it needs. So the good news is that once you follow a healthy, balanced meal plan your body will be well-nourished, so your food cravings tend to reduce significantly.
Another reason you might experience food cravings could be due to your gut health.
We have an enormous host of bacteria in our gut, both good and bad which are essential for optimal gut health and what happens in our gut is directly related to our brain. The bad bacteria in our gut LOVE sugar and that is what they feed off. So if your bacteria balance of good/bad becomes swayed then this could be contributing to sugar cravings.
To improve your gut health and reduce the chance of sugar cravings.
Try including some fermented foods and probiotics into your diet and also make a conscious effort to reduce stress levels which can affect our gut bacteria.
Hormones can be another reason we might be experiencing food cravings.
Hormone imbalances can trigger emotional instability for a lot of people (feelings of stress, anxiousness, depression, sadness) and when this occurs our body naturally craves foods that we think are comforting hello sugar, salt and carbs!
The best way to get your hormones in check is to follow our 28 healthy eating plan as closely as you can and seek advice from a medical practitioner to check if you have any specific hormone issues.
Also contributing to food cravings is mindless eating.
Far too often we eat without paying attention while we watch TV, read our emails, scroll on Instagram or drive to work! If you are not aware of what is going into your body, then it becomes hard for your mind to register that you have actually eaten, meaning it isn’t long before you are craving for more.
One of the most important aspects of healthy nutrition is to eat mindfully, eliminate distractions and pay attention to the nourishing nutrients going into your body.
With that in mind, here are a few tips to stop junk food cravings.
How to reduce cravings for sweet foods
- Try to avoid any processed sugary foods and instead go for wholefood options.
- A herbal tea with 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil can help to provide satiation and balance your blood sugar levels.
- Liquorice tea is naturally quite sweet so this can also be a good herbal tea option too.
- If you really feel like a snack then opt for a homemade bliss ball, a piece of dark chocolate or some berries for natural sweetness.
How to reduce cravings for salty foods
Salt levels are influenced by our water intake so the first step is to ensure you are hydrated using water and herbal teas.
If you are still craving salty foods then opt for
- An avocado with a pinch of salt
- homemade miso soup,
- sashimi with salty tamari, or
- slightly salted popcorn
How to reduce cravings for carbs
On our 28 weight loss program, it is important to note that we do not recommend cutting out carbohydrates altogether – in part this is because our fitness plan keeps you so active but, also, because we don’t believe all carbs are bad. Our approach is to change the kinds of carbs we eat, to only consume unprocessed, complex or wholegrain carbohydrates.
When you are craving carbohydrates there are two things you can do to reduce the cravings:
- Eat some healthy fats, or
- Eat some good carbs!
Healthy fats can help reduce carb cravings as they help satiate you and will satisfy your taste buds.
Healthy fat options include:
- oily fish,
- herbal tea with 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
Eat ‘good’ carbs to help resist eating ‘bad’ carbs
We often crave foods when we cut them out of our diet (particularly carbohydrates as they provide the main energy source for our brains). So if you’ve got a craving you can’t stop thinking about, go eat some carbs, but just go for good carb options like:
- wholegrain bread/wrap/pasta/noodles,
- sweet potato, or
- fruits (like a banana).
If you can keep portions to approximately a handful serving size then this should be enough to satisfy your carb craving but not throw your daily macronutrient balance out of whack.
Remember – in the first couple of weeks of trying to lose weight if you find yourself experiencing cravings, just accept that this is totally normal! If it’s still going on several weeks later, this is still fairly normal, just try to address the reason behind your cravings first. Often, once you’ve identified the ‘why’, those cravings can disappear. And if they don’t, just ride the wave and do the best you can. As Sam says: progress not perfection!
Each time you find a healthier solution to giving in to your cravings the stronger the healthy habits you will be building!
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