These stimuli -whether initiated in the body or from external factors -can cause cravings, make you want a morning muffin, send you on an afternoon greasy gravy run or have you scouting the freezer for ice cream after dinner.
An unhealthy treat is fine once a way. But when you’re trying to improve your diet or manage your weight, these temptations can get the best of you, and it’s time for some new strategies.
While the impetus that drives you to junk food may have a common root (stress, boredom, habituation, and low energy), the temptation to snack in the morning can be triggered by something completely different during the afternoon time, or even post-dinner.
Once you begin to understand situational triggers, you can mend your approach to choose healthier alternatives.
Here are a few suggestions for making mindful choices based on common triggers at various times of the day:
If you’re tempted to supplement your breakfast with a creamy cake, or see biscuits in the office and suddenly feel hungry when you weren’t before, you’re probably not getting enough protein at breakfast.Solution: Protein is satiating and helps you feel full for longer. It provides solid energy to get you through the morning and is full of amino acids that help keep you focused and your body feeling nourished and not needing a carb-heavy snack. Boiled or poached eggs are a good way to start the day. It makes sure you have got ample protein in your first meal of the day.
That period after lunch when energy tends to dip -and you have pending files to attend to -may feel like the perfect time for a coffee break, but beware. This is because the coffee you drink in the afternoon can negatively impact sleep later that night, and some of the flavoured or milky drinks can add hundreds of calories.Solution: Green tea is a much better choice, lower in caffeine than coffee and contains antioxidants for increased focus and mental clarity.Another option is to take a walk outside in the sunshine, taking deep breaths as you go. This small activity reduces stress, helps oxygenate the lungs and reminds the brain that it’s still daytime, helping restore your energy. Besides, it is a good way to loosen your limbs, by climbing the stairs or taking a short walk.
For many people, coming home from work immediately throws them from work stress into home obligations, and they don’t get enough time to unwind. A common yet problematic approach is to reach out for a sugar rush (think eating a cookie or a piece of chocolate) for the instant dopamine release: it’ll make you happy even if it doesn’t relieve your stress. As a daily routine, sugar consumption and calories add up and don’t support a healthy weight.Solution: As you make that transition from work to home, try to find a few minutes for yourself. Meditate and do pranayam (breathing exercises) for a few minutes to help transit the mind and central nervous system from the cares of the office towards the evening ahead.
If your sweet tooth tends to go crazy after dinner, it may be a sign that you don’t feel satisfied from the day.Or it could just be a habit of eating something sweet after dinner. If you think you are in the latter group, then the simplest way to avoid hunting for ice cream after dinner is immediately brushing your teeth.To address bigger issues of feeling incomplete or restless, you need to address the issue through some introspection.Solution: Sugary temptations can seem to come out of nowhere and overwhelm you. But that doesn’t mean you’re powerless to deal with them. Recognizing the cause, the stimulus that triggers it allows you to choose a more strategic approach.You can develop new habits and new systems for dealing with any type of craving and feel more successful in sticking to a healthy diet and managing your weight.
Let’s work around our cravings. We can do it!