3 Ways To Curb Those Cravings. No Motivation Needed.

Weight Loss

With holiday season in full swing, my mind is already racing toward establishing goals and intentions for the year ahead.   While that is in the works, I also need to build a strategy for avoiding one pitfall that always seems to come up each holiday season...unwanted weight gain.  

Thanksgiving dinners, parties, potlucks, luncheons, and sugary confectionaries are commonplace this time of year.  And, if your body is sensitive to changes in your diet, this shift in eating will not go unnoticed.  My goal this year is to avoid eating in a way that deviates too far from my regular routine.  

 I'll do that, not by managing my eating, but by managing my cravings.  

Years ago, I would fall into a very recognizable pattern every holiday season. It all starts on a visit to the grocery store and I notice the addition of pumpkin flavored cupcakes, cookies...or anything really.  I then convince myself that these treats will only be around for a short time and that I should indulge while I still have the chance.  Next thing you know, I've amassed a small stash of pumpkin-flavored goods.  Then there's the week of Thanksgiving where I'm eating larger meals pretty much daily in a valiant effort to consume all of the leftovers before the short eating window expires.  

When I indulge in high-fat or sugary foods too often for too long, something interesting happens to my palette.  It no longer craves the mundane.  The little boosts of dopamine I receive from each delicious bite for my desire to consume even more.  When this happens, it becomes so difficult to change course.  My cravings get out of control and it feels like I'm just there for the ride.

...but that won't happen this year.

I'm ready to jump off the hamster wheel this time around.  The key to success, this year,  will be in how I manage my cravings.  There are a few tips and tricks that we can all experiment with in order to manage that uncontrollable desire for sweet, rich, and fatty meals. 


The very first step I'm taking this holiday season is making sure that I stay on top of my probiotic supplementation.  I once heard that our gut bacteria changes drastically according to our diet.  So when we consume a lot of sweets and carb-heavy meals, we feed the bacteria that thrive off the extra sugars.  The "bad bacteria" then send signals to the brain making us crave sweets even more. They do this to ensure their own survival and, in years past, I was happy to accommodate.  They even have the ability to impact our appetite hormones by making us feel hungry even when it isn't the case.  This year I'm employing the strategy of being very consistent with my probiotic intake to keep those unwanted bacteria in check.  Although I've been careful not to purchase any sweet indulgences, I have been eating out a lot which will probably affect my palette.  The remedy for this is to flood my gut with the right bacteria to restore balance.  Taking a supplement is cool but we also want to try to feed the new bacteria with fiber-rich foods like apples or by adding a little powdered fiber to your favorite beverage if your diet is lacking.  Fiber helps fill your tummy which keeps it occupied so you aren't always craving more food. 


When we eat anything sweet or high-carb, we trigger a spike in insulin.  We don't want to get into the habit of spiking and keeping our insulin levels too high because then we are pretty much ensuring weight gain.  Let's say that you've fallen into the habit of constantly grazing all day instead of eating 3 solid meals without snacks. Chances are that your insulin levels are staying elevated for much of the day.  The solution to this is to train your body to stabilize its insulin levels so you aren't experiencing massing spikes and dips all throughout the day.  

There are several ways to manage insulin resistance:

1. Fasting

2. Exercise

3. Holistic options like apple cider vinegar, green tea, etc

For me, the path of least resistance is option 3.  It's not all that hard to prepare a glass of ACV water or brew a cup of green tea to start the day.  I don't have to use my willpower to force myself to exercise nor do I have to worry about fasting and eating windows.  If I just focus on doing the bare minimum--fixing myself a drink--I'd still enjoy benefits nonetheless. In my personal experience, drinking apple cider vinegar regularly is a powerful method to help curb my carb cravings. And it isn't just in my head, there's a study that observed what happens to our blood after consuming apple cider vinegar.  The study "found that ACV consumption significantly decreased total serum cholesterol levels" as well as our fasting glucose.  Both of these outcomes are really good if especially when it comes to heart health and insulin sensitivity.  The results were more evident the longer the person consumed ACV ( 8+ weeks or more).  


The other heavy hitter, when it comes to cravings management is good ol' lemon water.  But, in my experience, lemon water offers an additional benefit that is absolutely necessary....especially if you've been overloading on carbs.  Whenever I consume ample amounts of lemon water, I immediately notice its diuretic effect.  Processed carbs are notorious for triggering the body to hold onto additional water.  Sometimes, if I eat a carb-heavy meal, my weight jumps right up.  I know that it's the combination of calorie intake plus water retention that's the main culprit.  Not only is lemon water great for helping to manage sugar cravings, it also helps us fight the unwanted results of our poor eating choices.  

This simple, low-resistance strategy is how I'll make it through the holiday eating season without repeating my past mistakes.  This year, I'm all about maintaining the wellness habits that help keep my appetite and cravings within normal range.  This doesn't mean that I won't enjoy the occasional holiday snack, but I'll also include the buffers that ensure that things don't get too out of hand.  

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