You’re totally in control of your eating. You’re nailing that diet! And then: someone brings a box of cupcakes to the office and you cave. Indulging once in a while is okay, but if you find yourself continually sabotaging your good habits in the face of sugar and carb cravings, it’s time to take charge. These tips will help you beat cravings for good.
1. Keep the enemy out of your home and office
Batch of cookies? Bar of chocolate? Block of cheese? One cookie/square/piece becomes… more than one. Know your trigger foods and keep them out of the cupboard, office, car, desk, or anywhere else where they’ll be a temptation. Save your indulges for special occasions and really enjoy them, without the guilt.
2. Combine protein, fats and carbs at each meal
Combine clean, lean protein with healthy fats, low starch veggies, and high-fiber carbs at each meal to maintain a moderate blood glucose response. When you eat satisfying, blood sugar balancing meals, you’re far less likely to devour those cupcakes your co-worker brought in.
3. Eat by the clock
Eating within 90 minutes of waking up will get your metabolism going and set up your blood sugar to be stable all day. Stop eating three hours before bed; aim to eat an early dinner (between 6 and 7pm) and then that’s it for the evening. If you’re wanting a little something sweet, make a cup of herbal tea. My favorites are chamomile, lavender, and Yogi Bedtime tea.
4. Write it down
One study found that people who wrote down everything they ate lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t. The great thing about food journaling is that you can pick up on patterns and habits you might otherwise miss. For example, if you get a sweet craving at 3pm, think about what happened to create this craving. Did you not eat enough at lunch? Did you sleep poorly last night? Do you just want a break from your computer? Drink a big glass of water and re-evaluate if you still want something sweet in fifteen minutes.
5. Shift to healthier versions of your treats
Pretty much any favorite dessert can get a nutrient-rich, lower sugar upgrade. One of my tried-and-true ways to kick any sweet craving to the curb is eating a chocolatey protein ball, which I keep on hand in the freezer. They’re so nutrient-dense and filling, it’s pretty hard to overdo it with them.
6. Go easy on the coffee
Caffeine will elicit an insulin surge which makes you crave carbs and sugar when your blood sugar level crashes, causing you to want to overeat or choose unhealthy foods. If you’re a coffee lover, stick to only one cup a day and have it with, or after, food. Whatever you do, don’t have it on an empty stomach first thing in the morning–that’s just setting yourself up for failure.
7. Create accountability
Commit to yourself. Write down your goal, tell it to a friend or family member who supports your efforts, and remember that little black dress (or maybe skinny jeans) that awaits you for that big New Year’s Eve party.
8. Schedule in self-care time
Treat stress management and sleep as a priority. Incorporate at least 30 minutes of stress-reducing activities (or non-activities) into your day such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, exercise or otherwise unwinding (reading a book, taking a bath, etc.). Commit to hopping in bed by 10pm so you can get seven to nine hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep.
9. Follow the three-bite rule
With numerous sugary drinks, appetizers, desserts, and other concoctions you’re likely to encounter at summer cookouts and get-togethers, you’ll probably choose to indulge once or twice. And you should–it’s good for the soul. But, you’ve got to do it mindfully and without guilt. To do so, follow the three-bite rule by indulging in three polite bites of whatever is tempting you at the party–we’re talking what you would eat on a first date, not during an 11 p.m. fridge raid–and then set it down and away.2