If you find yourself craving your fav sweet or fatty burger and chips.... it's probably a good thing. Feeling unsatisfied keeps us alive... Always endulging yourself in sweets and fatty foods leads to overeating and manifests to being overweight or obese which we all know are linked to heart disease, stroke, blood pressure, some cancers, diabetes & osteoperosis.
Ofcourse a cheat day where you can have a small slice of chocolate cake or a cheeseburger from Maccas will keep you from going insane... It's perfectly normal to crave we just got to find a way to balance it all out so that we can avoid unhealthy behaviours such as overeating and binging.
Moderation is the key to a successful relationship with food.
Here are some tips i found useful in taming my cravings-
1. Eat breakfast. If you are going to have a cheat meal... Have it in the morning so that you have the rest of the day to burn it off. Research has shown that people who eat breafast have lower dopamine levels and tend to crave sweet or savoury food later in the day .
2. Stay hydrated with water. Our brains cant distinguish between thirst and hunger. So often our bodies need water but we mistaken this feeling for hunger. That is when we start thinking about food and the cravings for unhealthy foods come on real strong. But if you drink lots of water .. there is less chance you are going to feel hungry .
3. Cut the serving size. Having a cheat day doesn't mean you should just eat everything all day long. Sometimes having a little naughty goes a long way. You'll learn to appreiciate the naughty things more if you only have a small portion of it. Say if your weakness are burgers. Maybe only eat half the burger and fill the rest of the plate with steamed veggies or a fresh salad. Or skip dressing or sauces or putting less cheese on top of your pasta or pizza will also work..
4. Substitution. Preparing and cooking your own cheat meals is also good because you can control how much you are putting into the meal ie salt, oil, sugar, type of ingredients as well as portion. You can substitiute full fat cheeses with low fat alternatives, or swapping normal flour with rye, or wholemeal flour. Or instead of having a bowl of noodles, you can blanch some chinese spinach into some chicken stock with veggies and a little meat and it will feel like you are eating noodles because of the stringy texture without the bad carbs factor. Green beans, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, borrocolli and mushrooms are great meal bulking foods. Watery veggies/ fruit are also really good for cravings because they are very low cal. For example- cucumber and tomatoes.
5. Choose low GI foods. They help you feeling sated for longer. Typically Low GI of 55 or less are digested slower, absorbed and metabolised and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and insulin levels. Using a sprinkle of cinnamon on top of your fruit smoothies or oats in the morning is also good for sweet tooths because it stops you from craving sugar.
6. Spice it up. Chilly foods are metabolism boosters. It also means you dont need to use more salt & sugar.