Saturday, October 10, 2015

Cravings

What's your Achille's heel?  Do you go for salty or sweet?  Is it nachos you crave or cookies and ice cream?  In this post, I will share some tips for dealing with food cravings.  How I deal with food cravings has somewhat changed now that my goal is maintenance, not weight loss.  But the principles are the same.

Before I begin, I will tell you, most of it is discipline, which takes work.  It's hard to stick to your nutritional program if you don't practice self-discipline.  You do have to learn to say, "No."  To make healthy choices.

My Achille's heel is sugar.  I am addicted to cake, cookies, candy and ICE CREAM!  When I started watching my nutrition, I drastically cut back on my sugar intake because I could see what the sugar did to my carbs for the day.  I also realized that the sugary foods left me hungry, so it wasn't worth wasting my calories on ice cream or cookies.

When Dmitriy ordered a re-feed in July, I had to eat 3,000 calories each day.  I thought it would be hard, but I was able to do it. I made myself an ice cream sundae with bananas, peanut butter and chocolate sauce (top right).  The next day I ate a Friendly's ice cream sundae cup. 
Tip #1:  Keep track of everything!  Log your calories and pay attention to your macros.

When I first started training with Dmitriy, he said, "If you to you lose weight, you have to track your food.  Otherwise, I can't help you."

Are you serious?  You can't help me?  Or you won't help me?  I wasn't clear about that, so I agreed to do it for one week.  I was surprised at how easy it actually was.  By that time, I had lost 34 lbs., which meant  I had basic skills and some good habits already established.  The difference was that I was now keeping track of my food and limiting how much I ate and the kinds of food I ate.  After one week, I told him it wasn't that hard, where I was having difficulty and he gave me some suggestions, which I followed.

It worked.  I lost 13 lbs. at my first weigh-in in January (and that was right after the holidays).  After seeing the success, I was addicted.  It not only was easy for me, it became a way of life for me.  A day rarely goes by when I don't track my food.

Tip #2:  Don't let yourself get hungry!
Since I typically crave sugary sweet things and can't stop with just one serving, the trick is to keep myself from getting hungry.  I eat breakfast and lunch every day.  I also plan morning and afternoon snacks to keep my metabolism going and to fend off hunger between meals.  A Greek yogurt with granola, Chia seeds, or a side of fruit is a perfect mid-morning snack.  In the afternoon, I typically have a handful of almonds, a protein bar, or a banana.

I plan for breakfast, lunch and snacks every day!!!  This keeps me from being hungry and over indulging.
Tip #3:  Prohibit easy access!
This may sound obvious, but I don't buy the foods that tempt me most.  I live in a house with three men.

They want cookies, so I buy them Oreos. (I could care less about Oreos.)

Ice cream?  I buy Skinny Cows and I keep them in the freezer downstairs.  If I really have a hankering for ice cream, I have to walk all the way to the basement to get myself a Skinny Cow.  They are only 150 calories (pretty much all carbs, but that's okay) and they stave off my desire to binge on ice cream.

Tip #4:  Protein, protein, protein!
My macros have changed as my nutritional goals and metabolism has changed, but when I was in serious weight loss mode, 35% of my calories were allocated to protein.  This was hard for me at first, but I've learned a lot of tips and secrets.  (Read more here:  Protein and A Calorie is Not a Calorie.)

Eating enough protein helps me to NOT be hungry, which makes it less likely to give into cravings.

Tip #5:  Nuts and nut butters!
This is counter-intuitive to most, people, but nuts are an awesome value for their calories and fat.  Do you remember the days of the food pyramid?  Nuts and peanut butter were always at the tip of the food pyramid, grouped with foods to eat sparingly.  If you were on Weight Watchers, nuts and nut butters use up a lot of your points, so they are often discouraged (not from WW themselves, but the group).

In the afternoon, a handful of nuts will keep me going either until I get to the gym or until dinner.

That said, peanut butter, almonds, pistachios and other nuts DO use up a lot of calories and they DO use up a considerable amount of your fat for the day.  But they satisfy my hunger in a way nothing else can.  I often have a protein smoothies for breakfast.  They are easy to make and taste good.  Before I added 1 tbsp. of peanut butter to it, I was hungry by 8:30 a.m.  It took some getting used to the taste and consistency, but the 1 tbsp. of peanut butter kept me satisfied a lot longer.

Sometimes I'll just eat a spoonful of peanut butter.  Just because....
(I have a peanut butter problem:  ALL of these jars are open!)

Tip #6:  Keep your refrigerator stocked with healthy options!
This is what my refrigerator looks like:

Top shelf is just about all yogurt.  You can't see my produce drawer, which has mixed greens, carrots, celery and some apples. (The white container with the blue lid is left-over squash soup.)   I try to have things available for everyone in the family.
Tip #7:  Don't be afraid of fat!
Choose HEALTHY fats.  It's the saturated fats you want to limit.

Salmon is high is Omega-3's
Read about the benefits of Omega-3's and learn which foods are high in Omega-3's.


Coconut oil:  I've almost entirely cut out cream in my coffee, substituting coconut oil instead.  It's still just as many calories and fat, but the fats in coconut oil are easier to metabolize.  (You have to put it in a blender before you drink it.)  I also use it for baking and cooking.

Tip #8:  Stay hydrated!!!
Drink LOTS of water.  Don't be afraid of green tea.  There are lots of health benefits to green tea.
If you feel hungry, it could be that you are thirsty.  Staying properly hydrated will keep your hunger down, making it easier to resist cravings.

Drink LOTS of water every day!

In the cooler weather, I drink at least two-three cups of green tea every day.  I used to put honey in my tea, but I cut that out.  Instead, I add an extra flavored tea bag to give it more flavor.
Tip #9:  Finally, and this is not a tip, it's more practical advice.  If you cheat on your diet and give into your need for Doritos, nachos or ice cream, do yourself a favor and LOG the food.  Keep track of it.  Okay, so you ate an entire plateful of chili cheese fries, followed by a triple hot fudge sundae.  Enter it into your food journal.  Keep track of it.  This way, you can directly see how it affects your nutrition and subsequent weight loss / gain.  I only weigh myself once / week, so a treat on Saturday does not affect my weight on Thursday.  It's the bigger picture that counts.  Your overall nutrition, not a snapshot of what you eat on one day.

I don't care what I eat...if it's healthy or not.  I log everything.  As you can see, I'm not super strict with my nutrition anymore.  (I don't really have to be.)  But every day is not this picture.  I weigh myself once / week and I aim for 2,100 calories every day.  If I consistently go higher and see an increase in the scale, I know I have to lower my calories.  But I'm in maintenance mode right now.  If you are trying to lose weight, you want to aim to keep your calories within your limit as often as possible.  You can't have a cheat day every day and expect to see results.  The trick is discipline.
Now that my goal is to maintain my weight, not to lose weight, I allow myself more treats.  I am careful to measure everything at home and to log everything in my food journal.  Everything.

Pumpkin Beer!!!!!!!  with a cinnamon sugar rimmed glass.
206 calories, added to my food journal
Olive Garden Tiramisu, I shared with my husband... 235 calories.
Log EVERYTHING!!!  Even when you cheat!
My weight has stayed steady and for that, I am pleased.  I know I can't go hog wild, indulging in donuts, Tiramisu or chili cheese fries every day, but I can treat myself from time to time.  It's called balance.

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Questions for you:  (Answer in the comment section below)
Salty or sweet?
What's the ONE food you crave the most?