Tips to Help Control Carb CravingsExcerpt from an article by Martha McKittrick, RD, CDE
To prevent the craving
- Do not skip meals. Eat three meals and include snacks in between meals. Try not to let more than 5 hours go between meals and snacks. This will help keep blood sugar more level.
- Include protein, fat and carbohydrate at each meal and snack if possible. For example. Instead of just having a large apple for a snack, try having ½ of an apple with 2 tsp. of peanut butter. Instead of having a 2-ounce bag of pretzels for a snack, have a mini 1-ounce bag of pretzels with a stick of mozzarella string cheese. This can help keep blood sugar more level.
- Eat your snacks whether you are hungry or not. This will help ward off the drop in blood sugar that may happen. Once your sugar drops, it is very difficult to control the sugar cravings that probably will occur.
- Keep food records. Try to identify patterns in your food cravings. Record any emotions that may be occurring prior to or right before the craving. This can help identify the cause of the craving. You may experience sugar cravings every afternoon at 3 pm. This could mean that you need to eat an appropriate snack at 3 pm. It could also mean that what you have had for lunch is not the best choice for you. Maybe you crave carbohydrates when you are stressed out.
- Avoid very low calorie diets. Eating less than 1200 calories on a regular basis will likely lead to food cravings.
- Include some carbs into your diet. Ideally, include a carb rich food at each meal, of course, limiting portion sizes! Focus more on whole grain carbs such as brown rice, oatmeal, 7-grain bread, bulgur wheat, etc.
- If you know you have a serious “trigger” food, avoid taking the first bite. For some people, taking the first bite of certain foods can open the floodgates to uncontrolled eating! Keeping food records can help to identify a trigger food.
- Avoid keeping trigger foods in your house or office if possible. The less temptation you have, the better.
Once you have the craving
- If you really crave a food (i.e. chocolate), you have 3 choices – avoid it totally, allow yourself a small portion when you feel the craving (i.e. 2 Hershey’s kisses a day) or find a substitute (i.e. Swiss Miss sugar free hot chocolate).
- Try to wait 15 minutes before giving into a craving. Try to engage in another activity such as taking a brief walk or making a phone call. Sometimes even a 5-minute distraction can help ward off the cravings.
- If you do give into the craving and eat more than you would have likes, do not beat yourself up. Try to learn from the craving. What could you have done differently to have prevented the craving or how could you have dealt with it differently? Let it go – we are all human. Guilt is a very useless emotion when it comes to food – it only makes things worse!
Consider the food journal
- Set a daily goal and/or positive affirmation to begin the day.
- Record the time of day and watch the amount of time which passes between meals and snacks.
- Record the food (brief description) and quantity consumed.
- Consider dairy protein (DP), bean (B) or meat protein (MP), fruit (F), vegetable (V), grain (G), and other (O).
- Consider the hunger scale (0=out of gas, 5=neutral, 10=topped off tank of gas). This will begin reconnecting you to your hunger cues.
- Consider your mood, thoughts, and/or feelings. Look for patterns. Be aware of yourself and your own needs. Be mindful – pay attention.
- Make notes about structured activity and lifestyle movement.
Contact a physician, nurse practitioner or dietitian at MSU’s Student Health Service for review of your individual medical and nutritional needs. Call 994-2311 to be put in touch with appropriate personnel.