When you’re in the process of trying to live a healthier lifestyle and starting to eat a cleaner and healthier diet – the process can get feel tough when cravings start to arise and throw you off track.
Where do your food cravings come from and how can you overcome them?
Food cravings stem from substance addictions and eating habits that are formed by the choices you have made throughout your life. Luckily for you, they can be mastered and broken with the help of these techniques.
1. Being Aware
An important part of conquering your food cravings and addictions is understanding why food can become addicting in the first place. I have a whole post about this topic if you want to a deeper understanding (click here) – but to summarize – refined or processed sugars are the culprit.
The amount of sugar found in most processed foods, fast foods, and the snacks you eat are filled with unnatural amounts of refined sugars. What happens when you eat sugar is the release of dopamine in your body, which triggers your reward system in your brain, and gives you a sense of pleasure and satisfaction. The problem is that the more sugar we consume – the more tolerance we build – and the more we need to reach these feel good sensations.
This viscous cycle continues and essentially forms into an addiction. This is why cravings start to arise when you are cutting out processed foods and sugars.
2. Time and Patience
The same way your body built up a tolerance and adjusted to higher amounts of food and sugar over time – it will also need time to re-adjust back to eating a healthy diet.
The dopamine receptors in your brain have become accustomed to a certain fix of sugar to produce the pleasurable sensations you are used to feeling. When you cut back on the amount of food you are consuming, this means less sugar, less dopamine, and less satisfaction. This is temporary, and with time your brain will re-adjust to the portion sizes you are eating and the feeling of satiety will come back. You just have to give it time and patience!
3. Remembering Your "Why"
When you first start to cut back on unhealthy foods, you will notice your mind trying to convince you to go back to its old ways… This is when you need to push the hardest and remember why you are doing this.
Having a “why” is so important whenever you are setting goals. Why do you want to overcome your food cravings? Is it to lose weight? To feel more in control of your body? To boost your energy levels? Whatever it is – hold onto that reason and whenever you find yourself in a position of doubt or weakness, remember your why!
4. Understand Your Triggers
Since eating naturally produces a feeling of joy and pleasure in the mind – food can be a way to comfort ourselves in difficult or unpleasant situations. This can mean eating some ice cream when your feeling sad, binge eating when things feel stressful, or even ordering fast food when you’re feeling bored.
These foods numb our emotions and it becomes a coping mechanism to hide from reality instead of dealing with the temporary struggles and moving on. Understanding how our emotions affect our eating habits can help us catch them more quickly in order to avoid them.
5. Changing Your Environment
Another way to set yourself up to successfully overcome your food cravings is by cleaning out your kitchen! Get rid of junk food, processed food, chips, candy, soda – all of it! This way, when your food cravings kick in, you won’t have any unhealthy options to go to within reach.
If you’re serious about making a change – this part should be the easiest step! Changing your environment is in your control.
6. Whole Foods
After cleaning out your kitchen, you may start to realize you have nothing left to eat since the majority of your cupboards were filled with junk. Replace the foods you got rid of with whole foods! Whole foods provide your body with fresh and living nutrients, hydration, and antioxidants. They help to heal, cleanse, and detox your system. You can never go wrong with whole foods! (Click here to read more about a whole foods diet.)
You specifically want to make whole plant foods your go to’s – this means predominantly fruits and vegetables. Whereas you can over eat processed foods and feel like crap, it’s almost impossible to overeat plant based foods!
7. Eat More Veggies
Vegetables are rich in fiber, water, vitamins and minerals, while being low in calories and fat. Veggies are also “high volume foods,” that will leave you with an increased feeling of fulfillment after a meal.
When you have an urge or a craving – try having an abundant, big, colourful plate of veggies or a salad. You get to eat plenty of food without feeling like you’re on a restrictive diet – because that’s exactly what you’re doing! A whole food plant based lifestyle is one where you can eat as much as you want and still feel your best.
You may have those days where comfort foods feel like a must – and you just can’t resist. That’s okay. You’re human and over coming your cravings is a process.
Instead of keeping unhealthy snacks like ice cream and chocolate bars around for those stressful days – find some healthy alternatives to keep around. My personal favourites are bananas, dates, mangos when they’re in season, and watermelon. I’ll eat as much of these as I want, feel satiated, and guilt-free.
9. Parasite Cleanse
Strong cravings for processed and sugary foods can also be an indication of parasites. Parasites that live in your systems feed and thrive off of all the unhealthy foods you consume. They tend to increase your appetite and cause you to feel less satiated as they are feeding off of what you eat – this includes the nutrients that your body needs. In turn, your body sends out signals that it is still hungry and the vicious cycle continues. It’s always a great idea to incorporate some anti-parasitic herbs and cleanses to fight these little nuisances from your system. There are many parasite cleanses available in pill and tincture form – I personally recommend the ParaPro Formula by Organic Olivia!
10. Mindset, Discipline, and Self Control
When it comes to food cravings and sugar addiction – mindset is key. Most of what you are feeling is a trick of the mind – a mind game. You may logically know you are full, not in need of food, and have loads of energy, but still cave into the false senses of hunger you tend to experience. That’s why mindset is so important.
Overtime, continue saying no to your mind as it tempts you with thoughts of the exact foods you are trying to avoid. By doing this, you are practicing the art of self discipline. By staying disciplined, not only are you fighting your food cravings, but you are also building the habits of self-control that will help you in so many other aspects of a healthy lifestyle!
If you follow me on social media, you may have an idea of how much I believe in the power of fasting. Fasting is healing in so many ways – especially when it comes to food addictions and cravings! There are so many fasting techniques that you can practice: intermittent fasting, juice fasting, water fasting, dry fasting. They all work to cleanse and detox your body on different scales.
By fasting and resting, you are allowing your body to use its energy for processes in the body other than digestions. Your body will start to come back to homeostasis, readjust and stabilize its chemical levels, start to use up stored sugar and energy within fat cells, and so on…
I personally experienced one of my strongest detoxes after an extended dry fast (I do not recommend jumping into this without experience). I dry fasted for 36 hours, waking up around the 36 hour mark on a cold day, sweating with the shakes! I never imagined I’d be experiencing symptoms like this just from sugar addiction! I thought that sweating and tremors was only a withdrawal symptom for harder drugs like heroine and cocaine… That’s when I realized how poisonous sugar was to the body – a powerful drug that society has normalized.
12. Mindful Eating
When we mindlessly consume food, we tend to feel less satisfaction and crave more once we are finished. Something I started practicing a few months ago was mindful eating. Whenever I have a meal, I find a quiet place to sit, set my intentions, make a little prayer, and enjoy my meal with no distractions (no phone, no Netflix, etc). This way I savour every bite, appreciate and feel grateful the food, and feel a greater sense of satiety since I was fully immersed in the experience of eating.
13. Staying Active
By staying active and doing exercise, you are also producing the same feel good response from dopamine as you do when you are sugary foods! Keeping your body moving not only helps to make you feel good, but also helps burn excess fat on your body, which is usually where your body store excess glucose and energy from all the sugar you eat.
14. Keep Yourself Busy
Have you ever eaten out of boredom? I used to do this a lot before I cleaned up my eating habits. Instead of falling victim to eating purely out of boredom, make sure you have some go to hobbies for your off-time. When you have creative projects to work on, passions to pursue, and other fun little hobbies, it really helps you to forget about food cravings! If you feel like you don’t have many passions, experiment, explore, get out of your comfort zone! You’d be surprised what kinds of things you’re into once you get out into the world and try new things!
15. Spend Time in Nature
Spending time is nature is a great way to get away from all the distractions and feel a greater sense of peace. When you feel the earth on the soles of your feet, the fresh air fill your lungs, the heat of the sun on your skin, or the water run through your hair, you can’t help but feel amazing! Nature has a way of making you feel whole – making you forget about your food cravings and addictions. Being outdoors also helps to calm your mind, ground you body by releasing negativity, and allows you to feel more present. When you become more present with your body, you will start to better understand its cues and signals. This means you will start to become more in tune and recognize true hunger from cravings.
Overcoming sugar addiction and food cravings can be a difficult process, but it’s worth every struggle, challenge and difficulty. If you’ve tried all of these technique out and you’re still struggling to beat your food cravings and addictions, you may potentially be lacking the motivation and accountability to keep you on track. If you feel like the extra support and motivation would help you in your health journey, coaching can be a great way to keep on track, keep you focus, and keep you accountable.
There are so many great personal coaches, group coaches, and guides available – you just have to find the right one for you! But at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that no one can help you more than you can help yourself! A coach can guide you, support you, and provide you with the resources you need – but it’s ultimately up to you to use these tools to make the changes in your life!