C for Cravings

reading time: ca. 2 min

Holiday season is almost upon us, and you know what that means: holiday food. lots of sugary, buttery, carb-packed, pervalicious holiday food.

Winter is coming, meaning our body starts to store fat to prepare for the great famine - which, for the majority of us, will never come. But still we feel like eating more so the excess energy will keep us warm and comfy. Melanine, the hormone triggered by darkness, doesn't only make us feel sleepy, it also increases our appetite. And besides, in darker times we may be driven simply by a desire to cheer ourselves up.

So how can i stop my craving for stodgy cakes?
First we need to understand how cravings work and how to deal with them.
This is part of a little trivia series on the ABC of raw food lifestyle essentials where i share my knowledge of food and nutrition*. click here for the previous episode.

(Down below you can see what i will eat to still my cravings in winter time)

Episode 3: C for Cravings.

1. Do not try to smother your cravings. Most people will deny their needs, they will push away their cravings, saying they need more "self control" and bullsh't like that. But girl, that won't solve anything. The feeling will come back, even stronger than before.  
Think of your craving as a tiny baby crying inside you. It needs attention, it needs nourishment. Ignoring it won't satisfy it's needs, but only heighten the crying/craving even more.

2. Ask yourself: What do I need? A craving is a sign of deficiency, so do try to figure out what's behind your desire. This is an excellent infographic to see what a certain craving actually means, in terms of nutritional needs.

3. Take a break. When you're having a snack attack, you are probably low on energy, either physically or mentally. Are you stressed out? Have you been working on an essay all day? Switch off your computer for half an hour, lie down, relax. Sometimes all your body needs is some rest.

4. Drink a glass of water, maybe more. Dehydration can cause fatigue, which in turn triggers hunger or cravings because your body is lacking energy.

5. Start your day with a protein-rich breakfast, that will increase satiety and reduce hunger throughout the day. Think of breakfast as the fuel that will get you through your day. You want it to be long-lasting, right?

6. Sometimes you are just bored. Whereas during the summer months we spend most of our days outside, we tend to slug around on the couch in winter. So get going and take a 20-min walk, that will not only recruit your spirit, but also get you a nice dose of vitalizing vitamin D.
If you can't bring yourself to go outside in the freezing cold, do a workout at home (like these 15-min ones) or do yoga! These quick Sun Salutation poses are very refreshing and a great way to start your day.

7. Another great option is to feed your hunger for sleep. We crave carbohydrates only when we're tired, so lots of times we will grab a quick pick-me-up for more energy instead of actually providing our body with what it needs: recovery. Just take a 20-min nap or make it a habit to go to bed by 10 p.m.

8. Instead of gulping down super high-carb fatty foods** like chocolate, gooey brownies, a chunk of ice cream, a greasy burger or anything like that, have your healthy, long lasting carbs ready: Go for something dense, bananas maybe, a papaya or some dates. After that you first snack attack should be satisfied. (Tip: pre-cut veggies/fruit or pre-packaged portions like so help to stick to healthy food!)

9. If you are still feeling cravy (is that even a word?) after half an hour, snack on some nuts, almonds or dried fruit. Especially nuts are very nourishing and energising, but do eat them in moderation. Like avocados, fatty foods should be ingested in small amounts and at slow pace. Also, remember to drink loads of water after eating dried fruit or nuts!

10. Eat regularly. That way your body will be properly supplied and not panic about getting too little nutrients. Did you forget to eat your breakfast? Or perhaps you haven't eaten enough the day before, so your body is running low on glucose. In general, try to go for substantial foods like wholewheat bread, brown rice etc.
Now here are some of the things i like to eat when i am craving something:

dried plantain, alternatively banana chips (unsalted, unsweetened!)
(contains: potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, phosphorus, soluble fiber...)

a little bit of raw, cold-spun honey
(contains: fructose, glucose, traces of vitamin B2, B3, B5, B6, iron, zinc, vitamin C and other antioxidants)

dried apricots (unsulfured!)
(contains: vitamin A, iron, calcium, vitamin C, potassium vitamin E, copper, manganese...)

a small fruit bar, here: banana almond, alternatively a granola bar
(make these yourself! e.g. here or here)

dried seedless tamarind
(contains: vitamin B1, iron, magnesium, calcium, vitamin B2, B3, vitamin C, phosphorus, potassium...)

in most cases your brain simply needs glucose! if you lack glucose, your brain is going to ring the alarm bells and you are going to turn to fast fats and sugars like nuts, oils and chocolate. so fruit up! 
great options include bananas (wrapped in lettuce), mango, papaya, medjool dates, grapes, dried fruit (especially dates and apricots), walnuts, pistachios, almonds (for healthy fats and protein), kale, kohlrabi, brussel sprouts, durian, avocado, or - as a nice winter breakfast - porridge made from banana, ground chufa sedge and flaxseeds.

there's absolutely no point in forcing yourself to snack on a healthy food that you don't enjoy. if you hate celery and peanut butter or almonds and dates, don't force yourself to eat it just because some diet book says "you should". when you snack on foods you actually enjoy (and i promise you, you will find a plant-based food that will satisfy your craving) you end up feeling more satisfied and less inclined to overeat later.

Missy Homemaker

Thanks to the lovely Missy Homemaker for featuring me on her blog!

* note: i am not a nutritionist nor dietician. however i did spend three years reading up on nutrients, dietary needs, various forms of nutrition and eating disorders, and do consider myself quite an educated food friend. if there's anything i misrepresented or missed out, feel free to correct me.  

** In winter, we go for energy-dense, calorific foods, which tend to be sweeter or fattier, says Dr Barrett. The problem is that these high-sugar snacks will inevitably lead to a sudden drop in blood sugar levels, leaving you craving more energy. You then get into a rollercoaster of highs and lows - and store the surplus calories as fat.

Next up we got D for…? Do-you-know-a-word-with-D!


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