We often think of cravings as bad and push ourselves to resist them. But sometimes cravings can be our body's way of telling us we need a certain taste to bring our body back into balance. But more often than not, you are just yearning for something sweet or salty. Here we take a look at what Ayurveda has to say about how to control food cravings that are not healthy for you.
Food cravings are your worst enemy if you are trying to take off unhealthy weight. They are the biggest reason why most people battle to keep the weight off. What is awful about these hunger pangs, is they feel more intense than normal hunger pangs. It’s like we just have to have it!
How to Control Food Cravings
1. Drink Water
If you are longing for food you know won't lead you closer to health, drink a big glass of water, and then wait a few minutes. Often the craving disappears after a while. Perhaps your body was really just looking for water to quench the thirst. Not only does it fill the gap, but water comes with other health benefits as well. Drinking water before meals is a good way to help with weight loss.
2. Eat more protein
Eating more protein definitely fills you up more; it helps to reduce your appetite and keeps you from overeating. Protein will certainly help with the cravings and help you to feel satisfied for longer.
For instance, try eating a high protein breakfast and watch how it has the capacity to reduce cravings for snacking in-between meals. It’s because it also keeps you full for much longer times.
3. Distance yourself from the craving
When you feel a craving coming on, distance yourself from it. Find something to do in its place to take your mind off it, like going for a brisk walk. A change in environment or activity is a good way to distance yourself from that desire.
Don't bring food items into your house that you crave. Empty your house of every single food item that calls to you.
4. Plan your meals
It is an excellent idea to do meal planning and prepping; this way you know exactly what you will be eating in the next week. It's helpful because you plan the foods you're going to eat for the week. Then they are ready when you get home each day or when you prepare in the morning. This eliminates the chance of you wanting to binge or to stop at takeaway places.
When you don’t have to think about what you are going to eat for the next meal, it prevents the temptation of fast foods. This way you are less likely to experience cravings because the uncertainty is gone.
5. Don’t get to the point where you are ‘starving'
If you let yourself get really hungry, you will more likely experience cravings to eat.
To avoid getting so hungry to the point where you just give in to any craving and even over-indulge, it's a better idea to eat more regularly. It's also an excellent idea to have small healthy snacks at hand.
Being prepared with a snack helps to prevent cravings from cropping up. Just keep the snacks healthy, like fruit or nuts. Avoid long periods of hunger.
6. Take spinach extract
7. Reduce stress
Stress can induce food cravings, particularly in women. Food is like a comfort mechanism when stress is around. You want to reach for alcohol, chocolate, highly processed fatty takeouts and cakes for instance.
Stress also raises the blood levels of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is a hormone that makes you gain extra weight, particularly around the waist and on the belly. Try and reduce stress in your environment. This means plan ahead, slow down, take the time to de-stress. Take a long relaxing bath, meditate, read a novel, listen to your favorite music, or go for a walk in nature.
8. Eat mindfully
Mindful eating is about practicing mindfulness. It's like being ‘aware’ of what you are eating, noticing the colors and smells, tasting it and considering the ways it benefits your body. It is about developing an awareness of the physical sensations around eating.
Mindfulness helps you to distinguish between whether you are craving foods or if you are truly hungry. It will teach you how to take your meals and snacks thoughtfully, instead of acting impulsively.
While you eat, you aren’t staring into the TV mindlessly eating or reading messages on your phone, not aware of what goes into your mouth.
9. Get enough sleep
When you don't know how to get a good night of sleep, you disrupt normal hormonal patterns. This causes you to have a poor appetite, to have cravings, poor mood levels, irritability and much more. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of good restful sleep.
10. Don't go to the market when you're hungry
Grocery stores with takeout foods on display are the best places to go when you are hungry and need to do your shopping. The display of warm bread and cooked foods will make your mouth water and you pile in stuff you weren’t planning on. You can hardly wait to get it through the till so you can start nibbling on it on your way home! Do your food shopping when you're not hungry.
What Your Body May Be Trying to Tell You
Whether it's pasta oozing with sauce, a secret chocolate dessert that you relish at 3 am, your craving could be passing on messages about your health.
When you have a recurring craving for something in particular, especially if it is unhealthy food, your body is telling you that something is out of sync.
Ayurveda teaches that the closer your body is in balance, the more it will crave the foods to keep it in balance. The more you are out-of-balance, the more you will crave the foods that keep it out-of-balance.
Here we decode your cravings about what your body may be trying to tell you.
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Does sugar have a place in the Ayurvedic diet?
We all know sugar is detrimental to our health. When you crave refined sugars, it could be a sign of something needing attention in your body. Craving the sweet taste could be due to an imbalance of Vata energy.
Vata type people need a sweet taste to balance and stabilize their energy. But there is a difference between “sweet” taste and refined sugar.
When you take in refined sugar, your blood sugar goes up, which means insulin is released. When you have a lot of sugar, you have an energy crash, where you almost feel exhausted and need to sleep, waiting for the next high of sugar.
Refined sugars lead to weight gain, mental dullness, agitation, and exhaustion.
Ayurveda tells us that highly processed sugar, such as white table sugar and processed sugar alternatives dull the mind. After an initial feeling of happiness, they can lead to ignorance and depression and a desire to seek fulfillment outside of your mind and body.
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The best way to deal with this is to reduce your refined sugar intake by eating more fruits and vegetables and snacks that are high in protein. Your energy lasts longer because it is released more slowly.
If you are hooked on the sweet taste, it's time to cut back or at least reduce your sugar consumption. To support this process, you should know about an herb named Gurmar or Gymnema Sylvestre, which means “sugar destroyer.” This herb destroys the taste of sugar.
You can learn more about Gymnema Sylvestre here:
It doesn't matter if it's milk chocolate or the dark ‘healthier’ alternatives when we have chocolate cravings, it could be a sign that we are lacking in the mineral, magnesium.
Magnesium is nature’s sedative for reducing stress and anxiety. It relaxes muscles, thereby enabling energy production, strong heart function, and healthy bones. Instead, get your chocolate in the form of raw cacao powder to boost your mineral levels.
Carbs like bread, potatoes, pasta
If you are ‘crying’ out for carbs all the time, there might be other reasons for it. Sometimes emotional issues can lie at the bottom of it. It is such comforting food, cheering your spirits, although temporarily.
If you looking for comfort foods, the reason also could be that you are not getting enough good sleep. Often when the body is tired, it wants a quick surge of energy from carbs, and it is easier to use than the energy which comes from proteins and fats. Beat your cravings for carbs with some gentle exercising, learning to feed your body with goods fats and lean proteins.
Cheese is another food that people crave. But many folds lack the enzyme required to digest dairy which leads to poor health. If this resonates with you, learn how to go dairy-free here.
Craving cheese could be a sign that you don’t have enough fat in your diet.
If you want to add fats in your diet, the monounsaturated fats are the good guys. Sources are:
- Olive, canola, peanut, and sesame oils
- Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
- Peanut butter
Polyunsaturated fats are also good – these include:
- Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines) and fish oil
- Soybean and safflower oil
The bad oils are trans-fats such as:
- Donuts, cookies, commercially-baked pastries, cakes, muffins, pizza dough, etc.
- Packaged snack foods such as chips, crackers, microwave popcorn, etc.
- Stick margarine and vegetable shortening
- Fried foods such as fried chicken, French fries, breaded fish, chicken nuggets, etc.
- Any foods that contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil – even those that say “trans-fat-free”
Even though these aren’t as harmful to your health as trans-fats, saturated fat can raise bad LDL cholesterol in your body impacting on your heart health. There isn’t an urgency to cut out all saturated fats from your diet, and most nutritionists recommend limiting it to 10% of your daily calories.
Saturated fats consist of:
- Red meat, as well as pork, chicken skin
- Ice cream
- Dairy products like milk, cheese, cream, oils such as palm oil, particularly, and coconut oil
Sometimes you can have a craving for red meat when your body is low in iron. If you are a vegetarian and you are not getting enough of the B12 vitamin, you could supplement with B-complex with iron supplementation. Iron is important because it helps to transport oxygen through your whole body to reduce tiredness.
When your body craves salty things it is probably that your body is lacking in sodium. This could also signify that you are dehydrated. This is true particularly after exercise or if you have a hangover or you just simply haven’t drunk enough water.
Instead of giving in to your craving for salt through processed meats and fries, opt for lightly salted popcorn, some olives, anchovies, and other naturally-salty foods.
When you cook, try and cook using unrefined sea salt or Himalayan salt.
Fatty or fried foods
What about those cravings for fatty or fried foods? Craving greasy, fatty, could mean you are lacking in essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6. This comes from oily fish, nuts and seeds.
If you can’t find this at your grocery store or you don’t like the idea of oily fish, omega 3 supplements are highly recommended.
Ayurveda Lifestyle Products
Some say that the body naturally knows what it needs to be healthy and we should learn how to listen to our bodies. But what if you listen constantly to those cravings?!
Some cravings might be healthy and some might not be. According to Ayurveda, each person has a body type or a unique constitution. It is called Prakriti. Prakriti is like a genetic code with which you are born. Ayurveda claims that a person should know what his original constitution is and take appropriate measures to keep it in balance.
Ayurvedic Date Energy Drink
This energy drink stimulates your internal fire to improve digestion and nutrient absorption. If you have chronic fatigue, a date shake is superb.
Ayurvedic Date Shake Recipe:
- Soak 3 fresh dates before removing the seeds
- Soak 10 almonds, blending with 1 cup of healthy milk alternative or water
- Blend with 1 cup of water, adding a pinch of cardamom and ginger
- Sprinkle with orange zest
Just one cup of this date shake will provide a lot of healthy energy. Similarly, so will almond milk, highly nourishing, and proving excellent energy.
The above is pure and natural, offering you vigor, boosts of energy and vitality
If any food or drinks help to prevent cravings while you are trying to diet and cut cravings, as well as regain your health and healthy living, these will!
Conclusion of How To Control Food Cravings
When you are hungry, you just want to eat food generally, because the body needs calories to function. But when you have a craving, it’s more for one specific food; whether it is for the taste, the type, the sweetness, the saltiness.
Don’t allow problems you’re having in your day-to-day living with people or events to become an eating problem by stuffing your feelings down with food. Physiological and mental mechanisms are also known to be major triggers for craving food.
Level up your mental game to keep your food cravings under control. Practice Mindfulness.
If you want to find your body's optimal weight and keep it for the rest of your life, you will need to get a handle on food cravings. We all have to deal with them to one degree or the other but good food equals a good mood, good body, period. After all, studies repeatedly show that NOW is the best time of the day or month to start your healthier diet!