By Teri Tenseth Market.
Miracle Noodle Ambassador and Personal Trainer
We’ve all been there. You’re hungry, but it’s not for veggies, it’s not for a nice piece of chicken, tofu, or something healthy. You want ice cream. Your stomach says “Give me that donut! While I’m at it, let’s have a large cappuccino with it. The two work well together.”
For some, that donut and coffee turn into a donut, loaded coffee (can’t forget the whipped cream and chocolate drizzle), pizza, pasta, nachos, cheesecake and whatever else you give in to. Some of us get off track by just the donut and say “To heck with it. I already ruined my diet. I am just going to eat whatever I want today!
Been there. I hear you.
Why The Cravings?
Oh, there are so many reasons! Some of these you may know, others not so much. Here we go.
If you’re on a diet...
If you are starting a new way of eating and switching to foods you haven’t had regularly before in exchange for unhealthy options, guess what? Your brain is going to be tugging on your taste buds going “Hey! Where’s the cake?”
That’s legit. You think your body is missing it because, well, it misses it like your pets miss you during the day.
You need water.
When you are experiencing cravings, this usually comes from lack of water. I advise all my clients get a minimum of 120 oz of water a day.
Do yourself a favor and pick up a couple reusable 32 oz bottles. Consume 4 servings of that a day, and you’re good. If you are working out, more water is advised.
Protein is key.
So many people underestimate protein. It helps keep us full and is essential during weight loss to ensure muscle is not sacrificed while in a caloric deficit. A minimum of .7 grams per lb of body weight is what you should aim for with a max of 1 gram per lb of body weight.
Protein needs to be at every meal and snack for your body to process nutrients into the bloodstream properly, avoiding unhealthy glycemic spikes. Animal protein and dense veggie-based proteins work. For the veggie/vegan crowd, I recommend pea protein, tofu, edamame, tempeh, and black beans.
*Side note: There is a lot of confusion on nuts and peanut butter being high in protein. These I would count as fat. Forty grams of nuts or two tablespoons of your favorite peanut butter will have around 16 grams of fat with six to eight grams of protein. The fat overrules the protein by double.
This may seem counterintuitive, but your body does need fat. Nuts, avocado, coconut oil, almond butter, sun butter, grass-fed butter, olive oil, fatty fish and a good fish oil will help keep your hormone levels in check and those cravings at bay.
Despite these being labeled “sugar-free” or “calorie-free” know that nothing is truly free of something when it comes to artificial sweeteners. Try to limit your use.
When we have too much of these sweeteners, we develop a habit of over-consuming other foods because we think we have “saved” calories. A lot of the time, these sweeteners and other calorie-free sweeteners have additional ingredients.
A small amount is OK once in a while, but a lot of us - myself included - will end up using an amount past the serving size on the bottle. This adds up. Don’t kid yourself.
Another benefit to getting off your dependence on these is you will establish new taste buds! Once you start eating healthy fruit and veggies, you’ll realize how sweet they can be. I love apples! Strawberries and raspberries! Sweet potatoes and bell peppers!
I never realized how amazing these tasted till I weaned myself off the false sweetness for the natural sweetness. Plus, I started getting a lot more filling fiber from these options.
Just a hint, fruits with a peel you can eat are usually lower glycemic and have more fiber. The exception is grapes. However, if you want grapes, I won’t hold it against you!
I don’t know about you, but if I don't get enough sleep, my life feels absolutely out of balance. I start reaching for caffeine. I start wanting diet soda, ice cream, and Mexican food.
Everyone is different, but one thing remains the same between us all: we need sleep. I have actually stalled weight loss from not getting enough, and have had swings of 5 or more pounds in a week from this alone while on a meal plan from a coach. Sleep affects hormones, adrenals and cortisol levels. All of which can mess with your plan for healthy living. Read Everything You Need to Know About Sleep and How to Make it Better.
Ah, this old tip. If you are under a lot of stress, things tend to go haywire. We start caving in to convenience foods, we forget to meal prep, we reach for caffeine, and our weight goes up. Why? Because cortisol goes up. This can cause hormones to become unbalanced.
When I quit a very stressful job last year, I dropped weight the same week. This is not an exaggeration. It was like a ton of bricks had been lifted off my back. My mood improved and so did my energy. Your body knows when it’s under stress. It tries its best to battle it, but the only thing that will help is creating balance in your own life.
Try activities that take your mind off things. I will work on coloring, beadwork, drawing, or writing. I will go for a walk, take photos, or call up a friend or family member whom I can talk to. Meditation, yoga, all of these can help. There are also many apps on the market now for creating calm, breathing exercises, even counseling.
Helpful Hacks and Healthy Substitutions
I challenge you to keep a food journal. I won’t judge what you put in there. Just be honest. I suggest the myfitnesspal app - which is free. It works also from a desktop.
It’s a real eye opener to see what we are eating and how it adds up versus what we perceive we are eating. You will also be able to see what you are not getting enough of. There are recommended percentages for carbs, fats and protein.
See if you are hitting those numbers. For the majority of the populations, it’s advised to have a meal plan with 50% protein, 30% carbs, and 20% fat. However, there are some who follow a low-carb and a high fat, moderate protein protocol.
Regardless which way you go, journaling will show you what numbers you are hitting. You can make adjustments from there.
Learn Healthy Food Swaps
When we cut calories, we want to feel full and satisfied. No one wants to get “hangry” or angry + hungry. This is where we need to turn to voluminous foods that are healthy. Things like leafy greens! Also, Miracle Noodle and Rice! It’s perfect for adding fiber, which helps you feel full and keeps you regular.
Every morning I make breakfast using a smaller portion of oats and a bag of Miracle Rice. I add in cinnamon, nutmeg, chia seeds, and stevia. Sometimes I also use some of our Konjac Flour to make the texture silky and add even more fiber.
I also have a healthy dose of protein, usually a couple of hard-boiled eggs, or I add in a protein powder into my oats. Cinnamon Cookie Batter from 1st Phorm is my favorite for this.
Give in: The Cheat Meal
I’m all for giving in and being a human being. Heck, cheat meals help us keep our sanity. I advise after one month of solid fat loss that this can be implemented.
It’s a meal. Not a day.
If you feel you are not ready to incorporate this truly, then hold off till you are ready. This does not mean a large pizza, a bunch of bread-sticks, and a tub of ice cream. Be honest.
Cheat Without Cheating
Say what? Hear me out. Almost everyday I make protein ice cream. It keeps me sane. Hey, we all have our vices!
I take 2 cups of ice with 1 cup of water or unsweetened almond milk plus the whey protein concentrate of my choice. I’ll add in liquid stevia and sometimes I will play with extracts. Vanilla is always a safe bet, but get the natural - not artificial vanilla. Just trust me on this one.
You will pulse till the ice breaks up, and then let your blender rip on the ice crush setting. You can add fruit on top if you like. It will foam up and make one heck of a filling serving! On that note, there are many protein desserts floating out there on the internet. Do your research and experiment!
Make Over Comfort Food
Also, our website has a recipe page as well. There are many healthy versions of your favorite comfort foods turned low-carb there. Check out these links:
Life is all about learning! It’s part of the journey. Did you get off track? Move past it and get back on track! Try again and again and again. Just don't give up. That’s it for that tip.
Don’t Stop Once You Get to Your Goal
This is a big thing. People are all ready to go and in a hurry to get to the finish line. What we do after that is very important. You need to find what calorie amount your body will sit at for staying steady once you hit your goal. This will be your maintenance calories.
Yes, you will still want to monitor your weight regularly. Make it a date in your calendar. Keep yourself accountable, and stay active. I know so many people who fear the “what next” phase. There is nothing to fear. There is acceptance that to stay healthy, we need to keep healthy habits.
Those are my tips. I would love to hear yours! If you have any questions, please comment below, or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I wish you health and happiness!
Teri Tenseth Market is a Certified Personal Trainer with a diploma in nutrition. She is also a Miracle Noodle Ambassador and has gone through her own physical transformation to better her health. Teri can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest at @fcpchick.