As we begin to move through the winter season and after months of loading up on heavy, hardy and dense foods we may have developed some cravings that are beginning to manifest in areas like our waist, abdomen, hips and thighs. I wanted to take this time to share with you 9 secrets that will help you conquer your cravings, naturally.
Now if you are thinking that the above sounds a little like you or that you don’t have any cravings you just like to eat good wholesome food then I am here to tell you that if you do something that is not good for you long enough, you will begin to crave it. This is just the way our brain is set up and this is a result of having to survive in extreme situations during the history of man.
You probably think that admitting to the fact that you have cravings is a sign of weakness. What is actually happening is that your craving may be a sign that your brain’s rewards system has been hijacked. A brain’s rewards system is a complex network of brain systems and neurotransmitters that are critical to human survival. It drives us to seek out the things we need to stay alive and carry on the human race. Important chemicals involved with self control of cravings are Dopamine, Serotonin, GABA and Endorphins. Dopamine is a feel good chemical, Serotonin is the happy, anti-worry, flexibility chemical, GABA is the jumper starter to calm or relax the brain and the Endorphins act on the body in many ways controlling everything from breathing to judgment and emotions. Now listen to this secret, when these chemicals in the brain are balanced you can be focused, goal-oriented and have control over your cravings.
Now that you have a little better understanding of the system behind cravings, let’s get into the 9 strategies to assist you with controlling your cravings.
1. Keep Your Blood Sugar Balanced – Eat a nutritious breakfast every day, add a dash of cinnamon to your food or in warm water, have smaller meals throughout the day and stay away from simple sugars and refined carbohydrates. Go for the freshest food possible.
2. Stop The Use of Artificial Sweeteners – If you use these in your diet get rid of them now! This includes the use of diet sodas or soft drinks. Use a natural no-calorie sweetener instead like Stevia.
3. Manage Your Stress – Anything stressful can trigger certain hormones that activate your cravings. Chronic stress is the number 1 cause of disease. Find ways to manage your stress such as stress management classes. Deep breathing, Yoga and Meditation are wonderful for assisting with stress.
4. Outsmart Sneaky Triggers – To control your cravings, you have to control your triggers. Know the people, places and thing that fuel your cravings and plan ahead for your vulnerable times. For example carry a healthy snack with you that way if you get tempted to give in to a craving, you have something to snack on instead that is healthy.
5. Find Out About Your Constitution or Body Type – Knowing your body type is the key to your road map for proper eating for you. With this information you will know what is good for you and what you should avoid that will enhance your cravings even more. An Ayurveda Health Practitioner can assist you with finding out what your body type or constitution is.
6. Practice Willpower To Retrain Your Brain – Will power is like a muscle. You have to use it or lose it. Self-control is very important if you want to accomplish anything in life. No matter what the reason is for your lack of willpower, you can strengthen it but you need to practice doing this. Make it a habit to say no to the thing that are not good for you and over time, you will find it easier to do.
7. Get Moving – When you feel a craving coming on, get up and move. If you can take a fifteen minute brisk walk. If you can not take a walk then jogging in place or doing jumping jacks for 30 seconds will help to get your heart pumping and take your mind off of the craving. Try it, it really works.
8. Get Adequate Sleep – This is one of the main pillars of life in Ayurveda and is very important in how we feel and how we handle various situations that come into our lives. Important fact for you to know is that the lace of sleep increases food cravings. The less sleep you get the more cravings you have. Lack of sleep not only plays a role in cravings and weight but it also reduces overall brain function and increases irritability. If you want to curb cravings, get thinner, smarter, happier and have more energy aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
9. Take Herbs or Herbal Supplements To Control Cravings – Herbs have been used for thousands of years to treat the body. It is the most natural, wholesome source of medicine that exists here on earth. Herbs that have been used to curb cravings are Saffron, St. John’s Wort, Green Tea Leaf and Valerian Root to name a few.
By incorporating the 9 secrets to conquering your cravings into your life, I know that overtime you will begin to experience the magic that comes from having control in a natural and holistic way. Your mind will thank you by allowing you to stay focused and energized and your body will thank you by not packing on those extra pounds around the middle. Come Spring time you will be ready to spring forth with vibrancy and energy with peace of mind and control.
Rochele M. Lawson, RN, AHP, CMS