Whether you are trying to lose body fat, gain muscle mass, or just generally lead a healthier life, there is one main aspect of your life that can and will completely destroy all of your past progress and future possibilities if you allow it. That is your diet. What you eat, when you eat, and where you eat all effect your success in the gym. Diet accounts for 80% of your overall fitness and if you are allowing cravings to influence yours, you are doing your body a huge disservice. Keep reading to learn how to instantly stop cravings once and for all.
Why We Get Cravings
There are a variety of reasons that we may experience cravings. Your body could be deficient in a certain nutrient and attempting to replenish its stocks. You may be craving a food based on an emotional response, for instance you may most frequently eat chocolate when you are sad which could cause you to crave chocolate when you are feeling somber. The type of food that your body craves could even create a chemical reaction that triggers the pleasure sensors in your brain to create a feeling of happiness, relaxation, or excitement, causing you to crave that chemical rush.
If you are experiencing a nutrient deficiency your body probably isn’t going to crave a specific food that is high in that specific nutrient. It may however, begin to send out craving signals for food in general. Food cravings is different from hunger. Hunger happens when your body legitimately needs more food to keep functioning properly. Cravings occur due to a want rather than a need. Still your body may want more of a nutrient to increase efficiency while it doesn’t necessarily require more of that nutrient to survive or even thrive.
Of the three reasons for why you get cravings, your emotions are likely the culprit the majority of the time. Smells, sights, sounds, and even tastes all trigger memories and if you frequently turn to food when you are excited, heartbroken, nervous, or angry it may create a trigger in your mind that sets off an emotional response for craving specific or generic foods during times when you are more susceptible to those emotions. If you have ever heard someone say that they are eating their feelings, this is probably what they are referring to.
Certain foods create a pleasurable chemical reaction within your brain that acts as a stimulus for future cravings. Chocolate is one of these foods. When you eat chocolate your brain releases endorphins that make you feel happy. Once your body knows which food will create this surge of happiness, it begins to crave them in order to keep your endorphin levels high and thus your mood chipper. Other foods that may create a chemical reaction in your brain causing future cravings include: bananas, coffee, protein, and purple berries.
Stop Cravings In Their Tracks
Knowing what steps you can take to both avoid, and stop cravings is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Between nutrition and exercise, nutrition will always win out when it comes to which effects your life, health, fitness, and happiness more. So how do you make sure that cravings do not derail your nutritional goals?
How To Avoid Cravings
Sit down at the beginning of the week and think about what foods you enjoy, what foods you should be eating to achieve your goal, and what foods you have available to you. Plan your weekly menu around these items. Plan out what you will eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any snacks in between. When your brain knows that food is coming, and a meal is preplanned it knows that it doesn’t have to bother thinking about what to eat and therefore cravings should decrease simply by having a plan.
Plans can become derailed while you wait for your meals to be prepared though. While you are cooking your chicken for thirty minutes perhaps your brain is pushing your hand towards that bag of potato chips for ‘just a few’. Before you know it, just a few has turned into half of the bag and you suddenly are no longer hungry for that delicious chicken you just made. Avoid this situation by making your meals in advance so that all you have to do is warm them up and eat. Turn a 30 minute daily cook time, into a less than five minute wait between you and deliciously nutritious home cooked meals.
It seems like cravings always happen when you are least prepared to fend them off. To best avoid a situation in which you are unprepared all you have to do is take your pre-made meals with you, wherever you go. Meal prep bags are the best ways to transport your cooked meals with you whether you are headed to work, the gym, or on vacation. Isolator Fitness lunch coolers are equipped to keep your meals cold for over 14 hours, so that you can enjoy a full day’s worth of home cooked meals, away from your home.
Having a schedule and a plan for healthy eating means nothing, so the most important step to stop craving comes down to sticking to your plan. Make sure that if you have a meal or snack scheduled out and prepared you eat it when you are supposed to. This keeps your body well nourished with a full supply of the macro and micronutrients that it requires to thrive.
How To Stop Cravings
Often times when you think that you are hungry or craving foods, you are actually dehydrated. Instead of reaching for the nearest food item grab a bottle of water and drink at least 8 ounces of it. Give your body time to process the water intake, to determine whether your hunger or cravings came from lack of food, or simply lack of water. It is important to drink water in these situations rather than another beverage because it provides the best possible rehydration for your body.
You may find that you aren’t actually hungry but that you are craving a specific taste or food. If this is the case it is best to give yourself ten to twenty minutes to allow the craving time to pass before testing another method. It may just be that your craving is triggered by an emotional response that you are currently exhibiting and your mind needs time to process another way of coping before you indulge and kiss all of your progress good-bye.
Have you ever heard that it is what you cannot have that you want the most? It works with a variety of situations, including food cravings. If you tell yourself that you can’t have chips, cheetos, cookies, or chocolate suddenly these foods will be the only thing that you want. So rather than making certain foods “off limits” or calling them “bad” just limit your intake. Don’t give in and have it anytime you have a craving but don’t rule out ever having it again. Tell yourself you will indulge another time, and then go ahead and indulge at a later date or time.
Treating yourself with non food items is useful when you are craving food based on emotional triggers or chemical reactions. That’s because there are plenty of other non food related things that can brighten your day, or release a rush of endorphins within your brain. Treat yourself with a quiet night in with your favorite movie, or a wild night out with friends if that’s more your speed. Go shopping or call a friend. Anything that will take your mind off of shoving all of the food into your mouth, and keep your health goals in check will be beneficial to you in times like these.
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