7 ways to help cut the cravings for comfort food
With the dark nights drawing in, your ideal evening may consist of hibernating indoors with winter comfort foods, whilst wrapped in a blanket, watching the latest Netflix series.
As cosy as this may sound, if this turns into an everyday occurrence you may find that your general wellbeing won’t be thanking you for it!
Dr. Sarah Brewer, working in association with CuraLin Diabetes supplement (www.curalife.co) explains, “Our lifestyle is very different to that of people just two generations ago. The modern way of life often involves eating excess calories from super-sized meals; eating processed high-GI foods, snacking between meals, taking the car, bus or train instead of walking or cycling, sitting down to work plus more sitting in the evenings to watch TV (rather than going for a walk or playing sport), delegating active household chores and gardening to machines or service providers. We tend to burn fewer calories than we consume, leading to being overweight and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.”
Our experts share their top tips in helping you cut the cravings for calorific and sugar ridden comfort foods, which could be causing your energy and mood to downward spiral…
1. Avoid the temptation to binge
“We can be tempted to eat fats, refined carbs and sugary foods when it is cold outside and we are feeling sluggish. This can not only create weight gain, but reaching for these foods will only make us crash after the initial energy rush, causing a vicious cycle. Don’t be temped to binge eat just because so much food is on offer, especially during the festive period. You can still indulge but try and eat smaller portions, or make up for it by eating lighter meals in between,” explains Jacqueline Harvey, Wellness Expert & Author (www.jacquelineharvey.co.uk).
2. Opt out of emotional eating
If you’re feeling a bit low, are you more inclined to add extra cheese and have a few extra biscuits? “When you do get a craving, stop and think, are you really hungry or want to eat because you are feeling certain emotions? Recognising the difference is half the battle and if you are eating because you are lonely or angry then think of other ways to change that feeling rather than food, maybe a walk in the park or phoning a friend,” Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist, author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar (www.marilynglenville.com).
3. Help avoid calorific foods by staying hydrated
“Not only can drinking plenty of water make you feel more energised and alert, but staying hydrated throughout the day can also help deter you from mindless snacking. Often we can feel hungry, when actually it may be that we are dehydrated. Drinking a glass of water in between meals may help reduce snacking, as it has a mild effect on quietening down our hunger hormone Ghrelin,” explains Nutritionist & Fitness Instructor, Cassandra Barns.
4. ‘Saving yourself’ for later – don’t
“Don’t miss meals leading up to eating out, for example don’t miss lunch thinking that it is going to be helpful in avoiding extra calories because you are eating out that evening. If you miss meals, your body will think there is a shortage of food, slow down your metabolism and hold on tight to your fat stores. And there is nothing more guaranteed to rev up your appetite so that you end up eating more at the meal,” says Marilyn.
5. Start with a soup.
Dr Glenville explains “If you have soup before a meal you are likely to end up eating less calories during the meal. The soup gives you the sensation of being fuller because it remains in the stomach for longer and makes you feel more satisfied. In addition, the soup remaining in the stomach stops the cells in the stomach producing your hunger hormone ghrelin and turns off your appetite.”
6. Stop the salt cravings
“If you crave salty food, it could mean that your sodium levels are too low, usually due to dehydration (after exercise, illness or drinking alcohol),” explains Cassandra. Sodium is a very important mineral that helps to maintain water balance in our body and regulate blood pressure. “You can replenish sodium before bed by snacking on small amounts of this mineral in celery and carrots, which should help your craving,” adds Cassandra.
7. Instagram your meal.
Yes, you’ve read it right! Dr Glenville explains why: “Researchers suggest that taking a photograph of food just before you eat, concentrates the mind to eat not only healthier foods but also less of it. The photographs seemed to deter binges.”