Whether you’re fasting or sticking to a Keto/Low Carb lifestyle, most people have food cravings at some point.
And often we beat ourselves up for it. We think that if only we had more self-control we wouldn’t be tempted.
But the truth is, cravings (and giving in to them) is not about willpower or the lack of it.
Let’s talk about some of the reasons that we get cravings, and a few tips that can help when they come at you.
Your brain and the reward center
We all want to feel good, right? And our brains are wired for that!
We come in from a hard day at work, and we reach for something sweet.
Why? Because it relieves our stress.
We get rewarded with “feel good” hormones like dopamine.
Or maybe as a child you were rewarded with food, or given food when you were upset as a way to soothe you.
But the brain remembers this, so next time you’re stressed or upset, guess what? You get that craving again!
The more often you do it, the more it’s reinforced. It becomes a habit, or even an addiction.
Those are only examples, and of course we’re all different, we all have different histories.
What triggers you might be different than what triggers someone else.
The important thing to note here is this loop that happens, because it’s one of the reasons that cravings can seem so out of control.
The food industry is not your friend
Food companies are well aware of the science behind cravings. They take full advantage of it.
The foods we crave are filled with addictive ingredients in just the right amounts that will absolutely keep you coming back for more.
And ads are literally everywhere! They’re in our faces all day long, telling us how good some junk food is going to make us feel.
The deck is stacked against the consumer. The food industry priority is their own profit - and not your health.
Studies suggest that gut health may play a role in cravings, as well.
If you normally consume a lot of sugar and carbohydrates, you can end up with bad bacteria in the gut. The most common one is Candida and feeds on sugar.
This bacterial disbalance can manifest as cravings for sweet foods.
The good news is, following a sugar-free diet or fasting will help to reduce this bacteria and the cravings it causes.
Many food addictions and cravings are rooted in the emotions.
We turn to food for comfort, which can create an addiction.
Interestingly enough, cravings (as opposed to hunger) can sometimes be more about happy events than traumatic ones.
That’s why in those ads we talked about before, you’ll see happy, fun moments with family and friends sharing their favorite snacks.
Tips to help you get out of the loop
My main point for this article was to help you see that battling cravings does not mean you are weak.
There are many reasons for cravings, I’ve only listed the biggest ones here.
But the point is, it’s not your fault. Now let’s look at some tips to help you beat those cravings.
Change your habits
Pay attention when you get cravings.
What were you doing when it started? How and where were you doing it?
Cravings are usually tied to something we do on a regular basis.
If you can figure out what that thing is, change it. Do something different.
Even just changing the timing can help.
Call it what it really is
Instead of saying or thinking, “I really want a bag of chips!” change it to, “I really want to feel good right now” or “I really want some comfort right now.”
This will help you to identify what it is you’re actually needing.
Then you can find other ways to satisfy that need.
Or you can really get serious about it and think something like, “I really want a bag of nasty, addictive ingredients” or “I really want to store some body fat.” Ouch … I know, right? But it might be the thing you need to get past the craving.
Along the same lines, try to stop thinking about these things as treats or rewards.
Get your dopamine some other way
Find other things that make you feel good. Make a list of things you can do. Your list might include activities like:
- Getting out in nature (walks are great!)
- Take a nap
- Listen to music
- Cuddle with your pets or play with the kids
- Get creative!
Prioritize Protein and Fat
Try to cut back on carbohydrates and add more healthy fats and proteins to your diet.
Aim for nutrition. This alone will greatly reduce your cravings.
Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mother) diluted in lots of water once or twice a day can help with your gut health, and helps curb cravings.
You are strong!
The bottom line is that having cravings does not mean you are weak, and it does not mean that you can’t overcome them.
Be aware of where they come from, and make those changes. Even if it’s baby steps, every effort makes a difference.
Author: Roo Black
Roo is a fasting coach with over 5 years of experience. She leads the admin team of the Official Fasting for Weight Loss Facebook group - one of the largest fasting communities on social media with over 125,000 members. We highly recommend this group for anyone who is looking for fasting advice or coaching.