Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How to Conquer Carb Cravings Like a Pro

 I see you oggling at that chocolate cake.

Tempting, isn't it?

Don't worry, if Cheesecake factory wasn't a 40 minute drive  in major interstate traffic I'd be on my way right now, all attempts at resistance thrown out the door with me into the snow.

 But seriously, the level of temptation here is crazy wrong. Why do I do this to myself?

In my last post I talked about some of the signs of being addicted to carbs (you can read about them here). So now we know how serious the problem can be, but how in the heck do we fix it? I don't know about you, but when I'm thinking of something sweet and delicious there's about 2% chance that I can sit there and resist it without going crazy. So really this list of ways to avoid giving in to cravings is half for me, half for you (but you have no problem with that I'm sure).

Let's jump right into it then, shall we?

1. If you HAVE to Indulge, Pick the Lesser of Two Evils.
If there's no way you can avoid your sweet craving, try to go the rout of a small or natural sweet, such as a small square of chocolate or a serving of fruit. If you need some ideas on snacks that aren't as guilt-laden as that pint of ice cream calling your name, visit my blog post with 25 different ideas here.

2. Keep Your Blood Sugar Up.
A lot of us reach for carbs when we are feeling hungry or tired from not eating frequently enough. Eating smaller meals higher in protein and fat throughout the day can help keep your blood sugar levels stable and keep you from grabbing a sugary pick-me-up.

3. Don't Initially Focus on Losing Weight.
While your ultimate goal behind cutting the sugar could be to lose weight, don't make it the highest priority on your list when you first start up. The goal here should be getting the cravings under control and no longer feeling crummy from any possible withdrawal symptoms, and then you can start focusing on seriously getting that weight off. If you try to focus on both, it can get pretty overwhelming.

4. Surroundings are Key to Success.
If you have a candy dish on your coffee table, or a bag of cookies in your kitchen cabinet, chances are you're going to give in when faced with temptation. Take all those sweets and carb-laden items and put them somewhere inconvenient. Up high, in a box inside of a box, on a shelf behind a bunch of other stuff...anywhere that makes it inconvenient to try to "grab and go" when a craving strikes. In the empty spots left where the carbs used to be, put easy to eat or pre made snacks and treats instead. You'll have a much higher chance of eating them that way!

5. Surrounds are Key, Still.
I can't emphasize how important surroundings are to success, and your friends and family are included in that. Friends always wanting to go out for drinks? Hubby can't survive without pasta or that weekly baked good? It can be hard, but telling your friends and family about your goals and asking them to help you by going somewhere with low carb options or trying to do an activity without food is a great alternative. And if you can't ditch the carbs at home because the hubby can and will eat anything he wants, try having him hide them or keep them somewhere only he can get to. When mealtimes come make only enough of the carb dish for him so you're not tempted to take some too.

6. Make it Minty.
Everyone knows that orange juice + mint = YUCK, and that rings true for a lot of other foods too. Brushing your teeth after meals, chewing mint gum, sucking on peppermints, or even drinking a mug of mint tea can help curb cravings. It's scent is a natural appetite suppressant, and chewing/sipping on something can satisfy that urge to "munch".

7. Indulge in Other Ways.
Do you use sweets to spoil yourself? Comfort yourself? Reward yourself? Try to find alternate ways to treat yourself, such as watching your favorite reruns or movie, reading a good book, giving yourself a foot massage, or treating yourself to a little shopping trip. There are a million options here, just depending on your personality and what you consider to be indulging/treating yourself. 

8. Find out What the Real Issue is.
Ok, it's starting to get deep. Grab your floaties folks...Now think, why are you really itching for that cookie or bag of chips? Some common reasons for emotional carb-eating include being tired, hungry, stressed, and sad/upset, to name a few. Instead of reaching for something to eat, find other ways to deal with the actual problem instead of masking it. There are hundreds of ways to do this (I'll post about some of my favorite ways some other day), so get as creative as you'd like. As long as you get down to the root of the problem, this one is pretty open-ended.

9. Start Taking Care of Yourself. 
The better your mind, body, and spirit feel, the less likely you'll be dependent on a substance of any sort to fill a void or solve a problem. And it's really pretty easy to take care of yourself, even though most of us neglect to with today's hectic and demanding lifestyles. Here are a few ideas to get you started: get enough sleep, stay hydrated, take a multivitamin, get at least SOME activity each day (even just walking to get the mail...come on people it's easy peasy), take time to relax once and awhile, and nourish the relationships that bring you happiness and fulfillment.

10. If You Slip Up, Accept it and Move On.
Trust me, I've been through this dangerous cycle hundreds of times. You get a craving. It overwhelms you. Next thing you know, there's an empty icing container in your lap and you have no idea how it got there. I guarantee, the worst thing you could do for yourself is go on the rest of the day thinking how big of a failure you are. Drop the negative self talk! If you have to be a little schizophrenic and talk to yourself, it's ok. Just remind yourself that you're only human, and that mistakes are all just a part of the growing and healing process. And don't forget to remind yourself of your successes, big or small! You really have to love yourself before you can let go of your love for carbs.

I hope you find some success in implementing these methods in your own life to help yourself beat those cravings and get your sugar under control! If you have any other ideas, feel free to add them in the comments section! I know some of us can use as many techniques as possible.

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