By. Dr Amanda Wiggins
1. Manage Your Stress
Food cravings and overeating often strike when we are stressed or anxious. When we’re chronically stressed, our bodies release cortisol, the so called ‘stress hormone’. Increased cortisol leads to increased fat storage and increased calorie intake. Stress also affects food preferences towards foods high in fat or sugar, or both. Once ingested, these foods dampen stress related responses – they really are “comfort” foods in that they seem to counteract stress. Hence a cycle of stress-induced eating is unleashed!
Find a way to manage your stress – it could be as simple as a walk, or something that requires a bit of organization like a yoga class. Mindfulness is proven to help counteract stress-induced weight gain. We like the mindfulness app called Headspace – give that a try!
2. Prioritise Sleep
Insufficient sleep can supress the hormone leptin that signals your brain that you’re full. When you’re sleep deprived it is all too easy to give in to food cravings. By getting 7-8 hours sleep every night you can better control your food cravings, as well as feeling better and reducing your risk of weight gain. This amount of sleep is can be tricky for some people to achieve (e.g. a baby in the house 😊) but for the rest of us, follow a common sense approach to getting enough sleep – get 30 mins exercise each day, switch of your devices after 9pm, have a routine for getting into bed (e.g shower, read a book, do some stretching) ….anything to let your body know it’s time to relax and sleep.
3. Know Thyself
Are there are patterns in your life that are likely to result in food cravings? For example, do you regularly crave an afternoon sugar hit? Do you find it hard to manage your food intake when socialising? Think really hard about when your food cravings strike and write them down. Now you know what triggers your food cravings it will be MUCH easier to look those food cravings in the eye and say no thanks!
4. Brush your teeth after meals
Brushing your teeth after meals is a super simple and effective way to curb eating between meals. That fresh minty feeling means it’s less likely you’ll want to pop indulgence foods in your mouth! Just make sure you avoid brushing for 30 minutes after eating something acidic (like an orange), as acidic foods can temporarily weaken toot enamel and brushing during this time can damage enamel.
5. Allow Yourself Treats
Food cravings are inevitable and depriving yourself will likely result in binge eating of the very food you are trying to control. Allow yourself one “treat” per day – but make it a treat with added nutritional benefits and control your portion size. If craving something sweet is your thing, switch out sugar-laden treats for a wholefood alternative, such as a Clean Mixes bliss ball. If craving something savoury is your thing – switch out chips for a couple of wholegrain rice crackers topped with avocado and a squeeze of lemon. The good fats, fibre and micronutrients of these treats will sustain you for longer and provide nutritional benefits that far outweigh junk food alternatives.