Potato chips, cookies, chocolate, ice cream, donuts, pasta, pizza – and bacon! Did the mere mention of one of those foods trigger a powerful craving for it?
Was your go-to snack food on that list? If it was, stay put for just a little longer before you race for the cupboards, because there are a few things you need to know about cravings!
First off, your craving doesn’t necessarily mean you’re hungry. Strong cravings come from your brain, not your stomach. That chocolate bar you can’t stop thinking about is going to tap into your brain’s reward centre and cheer you up for a bit, but your belly couldn’t care less about it! In fact, usually your body would rather not have a chocolate bar.
You know that feeling after you gobble down a whole pizza when you feel emotionally wonderful but physically awful? That’s exactly what happens when the brain gets its way and your body loses the battle.
Fortunately, eating a super-healthy salad instead doesn’t do the opposite: make you feel physically fantastic but super-depressed. It will make you feel physically great, and when you feel physically great, emotional satisfaction will follow. I promise!
So how does your physical and emotional health win the battle between the brain and the belly? I’ve got three great tips I’d love to share!
1. Be ready for your cravings. Next time you’re buying groceries , stock up on healthy snacks, like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains and forget the snack food aisle. That way when you’re desperate for a big bowl of chips and dip to tide you over until dinner, you’ll have no choice but to gobble down an avocado instead.
2. Distract yourself something else. Remember that you’re not actually hungry. A strong craving is not your stomach telling you your body needs food. It’s only your brain saying you’re feeling down and want a quick and easy pick-me-up. So just have a glass of water and try doing something else you enjoy, like going for a walk, reading a book, playing a game or watching your favourite show.
3. Keep yourself topped up with all the nutrients your body needs. Once you train yourself to snack on healthier alternatives and teach your brain to get mood perks from something other than snacking, you’re halfway to this tip already! You’re already getting a ton of yummy nutrients from your healthy snacks, so kick it up a notch and start adding some of those super-healthy food groups into your main meals – especially breakfast!
Remember, don’t feel like you have to give up those sugared donuts forever. It’s not about depriving yourself of the foods you love, it’s about retraining your brain not to depend on processed snack food to elevate your moods. That might take a little time, but I guarantee you won’t regret it!
Do you have any tips of your own you’d like to share? If you do, I’d love to hear about them!