by JJ Virgin, celebrity nutritionist, fitness expert, and three-time NY Times bestselling author
Cravings can derail even the best of intentions. You know the scenario. You’ve had a super stressful workday, you’re carpooling your kids from school to soccer practice, and your significant other has become a monster over a disagreement you had this morning. You want to drown your sorrows in food, and not wild salmon and Brussels sprouts either, if you catch my drift.
Cravings are nasty monsters. They strike when you’re least prepared. I don’t need to tell you they create food intolerances, overeating, weight loss resistance, and generally feeling pretty awful. While they will strike, I’ve found these five strategies can gracefully tame the beast.
1. Reduce stress levels.
We turn to food for comfort when we’re stressed or upset, and usually high-sugar impact ones. Ironically, sugar actually stresses your body further, shooting it full of short-term energy, sending your hormones into a spin cycle, and spiking and then plummeting your blood sugar. To crush cravings, manage your stress levels with yoga, meditation, deep breathing, or whatever helps you unwind and relax.
2. Make lateral shifts.
Rather than tell yourself no, opt for lateral shifts, or just-as-delicious but healthier alternatives for your favorite foods. A little dark chocolate with almond butter will knock out any dessert craving. Be creative and any favorite food can become a lateral-shift opportunity.
3. Get 7 – 9 hours of sleep.
Beyond just making you a caffeinated morning-after mess, inadequate slumber knocks numerous hormones out of whack, paving the road for hunger, cravings, and overeating. You want to prepare for quality, uninterrupted sleep. About an hour before bed, turn off electronics and develop an unwinding bedtime ritual like a hot bath, chamomile tea, and a good (but not great) novel.
4. Don’t eliminate sugar all at once.
Completely eliminating sugar at once guarantees you’ll go into withdrawal, like you would with any addiction. Instead, you want to taper and transition, nice and easy, from high-to medium-to low-sugar impact foods. In my Sugar Impact Diet, I provide three cycles to help you effortlessly and permanently transition off sugar without going cold turkey and all its misery.
5. Stabilize your blood sugar with protein.
One of the fastest ways to calm your sugar cravings is by eating protein, which feels you up, keeps you satisfied, and decrease cravings, too. Smart protein sources include grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, free-range poultry, and if you’re not intolerant, barnyard eggs. Vegans and vegetarians should focus on legumes, nuts and seeds, and slow low carbs like quinoa for optimal protein.
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