Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Control Your Cravings

Everyone has those moments of weakness when we get those incredible cravings for sugary and/or salty treats. Cravings are generally a way for your body to tell you that it wants something specific. For example, if you have a craving for chocolate, your body could be having a blood sugar low, so it wants to bring that up with some sugar. Fortunately, there are ways to keep your body happy throughout the day, without having to get these intense cravings.

Don't Skip Meals - Many people feel the need to skip a meal here or there to shed a few pounds. The truth is, when you skip a meal, your body is missing those required nutrients to stay energized. When you skip a meal, or haven't eaten for a while, your body goes into "starvation mode" where your blood sugar drops and that is when you start to get cravings for something with quick, reliable energy, like that piece of cake. Ensure that you are eating 3 full meals a day, as well as snacks in mid-morning and mid-afternoon to keep your metabolism firing, and your blood sugar steady. When eating, make sure the meals and snacks going into your mouth are full of whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, as these help stabilize your hunger and also keep you feeling full, longer. Try and avoid refined carbs such as white sugar, white bread, white rice, etc.

Keep a Log - Keep a journal for yourself that contains information such as what you eat and drink, when you consume such foods and drinks, your moods, your stress level, etc. This is a great way to then go back and study potential trends. For example, if you log that you came out of a stressful meeting at work, and then had a double cheeseburger and fries for lunch 10 minutes after the meeting, you may see a pattern indicating stress leads to such cravings. Once you begin to understand your body better and realize what drives you to eat, you can then start to notice the signs of your cravings, and potentially help curb the feelings.

Just Wait - This one is going to sound difficult to do, but give it a shot. Many people feel cravings for about 20 minutes or more following a stressful event. This is when your hormones are at their highest point. If you can get away from the source of nasty foods for this time frame, you have a better chance at curbing the craving feelings. Try going for a walk or a drive to get away from the access point(s) to these foods you are craving.

Drink - No, not a martini! The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that controls mood and food-related signals. If you are feeling a craving, gulp back a cold glass of water, or a cup of hot decaf tea. Stay away from caffeine though as it can cause the release of stress-hormones. If you still feel hungry after downing a beverage, consider a piece of fruit or some vegetables to squash those hunger pangs.

Chew It - If you absolutely must, go for a stick of gum. It will give you that oral sensation, not to mention a sugary sweetness to hopefully hold you back from what you are craving.

Watch a Funny Movie - Studies show that an hour of laughter can be as effective as half an hour of weight lifting when it comes to stress fighting. Just don't be snacking on cravings while watching that comedy.

I have said it before, and I will say it again. We all like to indulge once-in-a-while, that makes us human and lets us cheat a bit. However, you should have a cheat snack or meal because you deserve it and will only have a small indulgence. If you let those intense cravings control you, you will be finding yourself sitting down with a tub of ice cream and not stopping until you see the bottom...see the difference?

-Tyler Robbins