Tuesday, October 2, 2012

4 Healthy Swaps for Cravings

Cravings suck. They can be induced by

1. Environmental triggers:
  • Seeing a photo of food or a commercial on t.v. -- I've heard the Food Network described as food porn.
  • A certain time of day -- "It's time for Grey's Anatomy and a glass of wine"
  • Something you just ate -- I always crave something sweet after I have something salty and spicy (like chips and salsa)
2. Emotional triggers:
  • You come home after a hard day at work and feel like you "deserve" certain foods
  • You are angry or sad about something and believe that food will help you feel better
  • For me, my cravings are sometimes not even about a specific food but about finding MORE food to eat. I don't get a chance to sit very often so sometimes, when I'm wiped out, I eat past satiety because it gives me an excuse to keep sitting. Hello binge.
3. Hormones:
  • Do I really need to explain?
So how do we deal with them? There are a lot of great answers to this. In The Beck Diet Solution, Judith Beck suggests distracting yourself or telling yourself forcefully, "No Choice!". She believes that if you tell yourself the food is absolutely off-limits, your brain will soon focus on something else and the craving will go away. Unfortunately for me, my brain is sometimes a petulant child and it doesn't like to follow directions. So in those instances, my trick is to substitute a better alternative for what I'm craving. Here are my personal swaps:

1.Salty/Crunchy/Filling: Rather than reach for a bag of chips, I pop some air-pop popcorn. I usually spray grapeseed oil with a mister over the popcorn. The grapeseed oil is a healthy fat, has very little of it's own taste, and gets "stuff" to stick to the popcorn. The mister ensures I don't use a lot. Weight Watchers even has a sprayer that measures out 1 Points Plus worth of oil. Depending on whether or not I'm watching my sodium, I use Hawaiian Salt, a BBQ seasoning, or some of the Mrs. Dash salt-free blends (I particularly like Fiesta Lime and Carribean Citrus) to add flavor. This usually takes care of the craving and I can eat enough to feel full and satisfied. Popcorn also has health benefits such as being high in fiber and packed with polyphenols, antioxidants that help battle all kinds of icky stuff our bodies are exposed to every day. Most of the antioxidants are in the hull, so make sure you're eating that part as well (at least the ones that don't get stuck in your teeth!).

2.  Sweet: Extra Sugar Free Dessert Delights gums. They have a wide range of flavors like Strawberry Shortcake, Orange Creme Pop, Rainbow Sherbet, Key Lime Pie, and Apple Pie (better than it sounds, I swear!). My personal favorites are Mint Chocolate Chip and Root Beer Float. They satisfy my craving for something sweet and my desire to chew. I know there are concerns about artificial sweeteners and I do try to avoid them, but I'm willing to indulge on some sugar free gum if it keeps me from eating a tub of frosting ;)

3. Just want MORE: Ginormous salads. I've been known to fill a large mixing bowl with spinach, spring mix lettuce, and a variety of veggies. Some of my favorite toppings are: roasted bell peppers, artichoke hearts packed in water, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, beets, snap peas, corn, grilled zucchini, asparagus tips, and avocado. If I actually want a meal, I might add beans, lentils, or meat such as grilled chicken, tuna salad or steak. I try to use oil-based salad dressings and sometimes I just mix up good balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I either dip my fork before I spear some salad, or I pour a measured amount on the salad and toss it really well. It takes a long time to eat a salad that big and by the time I'm done even MY jabber-jaw is too tired to chew anything else. Plus, I've just given my body lots of good nutrition!

4. Night-time snacking: Yogi Bedtime Tea and Angry Birds. The tea gives me something warm to put in my mouth and Angry Birds on my phone keeps my hands busy.

How do YOU deal with cravings?

No comments:

Post a Comment