I get asked this question alot. What should we do if we crave chocolate? Or chips? Or dessert?
Have you ever craved chocolate but told yourself that it's "off-limits" so instead, gone to the pantry to find something else - maybe a “healthier” alternative like some dried fruit? Or a handful of cereal? Or perhaps a spoonful of peanut butter? Only to find that nothing can quite satisfy the craving. Since the chocolate craving just isn't quite satisfied- you end up having a bit of this, and a bit of that, until you step back and realise that you’ve eaten the equivalent to a whole days worth of snacks and still don’t feel satisfied! Finally you just eat that chocolate because - well- you've blown it now anyway. Sound familiar?
So why do we do this? Why can't we just have the chocolate?!
A big reason why people wonder what to do when craving a certain food is because diet culture has defined certain foods as “good” or “bad”. Realistically, we all know that eating a couple of pieces of chocolate isn’t going to ruin anything. However- alot of us don’t trust ourselves to only have a couple of pieces. One piece of chocolate leads on to a row, to a block, or into a full blown over-eating fest of sweet foods. We say- “why can’t I just eat like a normal person?!” .. “Normal people just have one dessert or one treat and move on- why can’t I?!
The answer is that you are totally normal. You can actually eat chocolate without spiraling out of control. You can also eat chocolate and continue to lose weight, gain muscle mass, and feel energized.
I always start with mindset. It is so important to ditch the “all or nothing” mindset where foods are “off limits”. It’s human nature to want to rebel against ANY rules- including those that we set for ourselves! So drop the food rules. There is a knack to this- because after listening to food rules for our whole lives it can be hard to break- but I will help you more with this soon in my free program!
Make it easy for yourself. If you are a long-time dieter then chances are that you have totally lost the ability to trust your hunger and fullness cues- mainly because you have been overriding these for such a long time! If you can't portion control with a whole block of chocolate- then just buy mini bars and enjoy a small chocolate fix with a cup of tea. Often we get the same- if not more- satisfaction from a small portion as we do from a large one.
Mindfulness. If we crave chocolate every night after dinner- chances are that we aren't hungry- our body is craving something else. Is it a chance to relax? Rest? Energy? Then could we actually get the same satisfaction from other things like having a cup of tea? Heading to bed early to read? Having a hot shower and watching a show? Ask yourself why it is that you crave something and see if there is something else that could give you the comfort that you are after.
Remember- sometimes chocolate is not the answer! I have clients who crave chocolate every afternoon. This might be because they have trained their taste buds to want this from years of having hot chocolate sachets and mini chocolate bars at 3pm, or it might be because they are just really hungry and tired. An afternoon snack is ok- and often necessary if we aren’t eating again for another 3-4 hours- but bear in mind that this has to get you through the whole afternoon so a sugary hit is unlikely to give your body what it needs. A bar of chocolate at 3pm will send your blood sugars high then crashing down. Instead- have 2 pieces of dark choc with a small handful of almonds, or a chocolate covered rice cake (my latest find at the supermarket) with a hot cup of tea or trim decaf coffee. What I am suggesting here is that you team your sugary food (chocolate) with a slow to digest protein/ fat food. This makes you feel fuller for longer at the same time as satisfying those chocolate cravings.
I could talk on this topic for hours- but hopefully these few suggestions help. Remember that everybody has different nutrient requirements, lifestyles, histories, and goals. If you need some 1:1 advice then please get in touch. I work with people 1:1 all across NZ and also offer an online women's wellness & weight loss program.