Sometimes late night food cravings simply mean you need to go to sleep earlier.
The body is an amazing source of intelligence. It is always there for you, pumping blood, digesting whatever you eat and maintaining homeostasis (a system in which variables are regulated so that internal conditions remain stable and relatively constant). Is our reliable, intelligent “bio-computer” making a mistake by craving ice cream, a hamburger or chocolate? Are cravings due to lack of will power or discipline? Absolutely, not!
Cravings are critical pieces of information that tell you what your body needs.
It is important to understand your food cravings to balance health and wellness. The first step is to figure out why you crave what you crave. Perhaps your diet is too restrictive or devoid of essential nutrients. Maybe you live a lifestyle that is too boring or stressful. Well, your body knows! So it tries to correct the imbalance by sending you a message – a craving. For example, a craving for something sweet could mean you need more protein, more exercise, more water or more love in your life. The key to halt a sugar craving is to understand and give your body what it really needs.
No book or theory can tell you what to eat. Only awareness of your body and its needs can tell you. Of all the relationships in our lives, the one with our body is the most essential. It takes communication, love and time to cultivate a relationship with your body. As you learn to decipher and respond to your body’s cravings, you create a deep and lasting level of health and balance. So, the next time you have a craving, treat it as a loving message from your body instead of a weakness.
Tips to beat your cravings:
- Drink a glass of water and wait 10 minutes.
- Eat a healthier version of what you crave. For example, if you crave sweets, try eating more fruit and sweet or root vegetables.
- Take a moment to think about what is out of balance in your life? Is there something you need to express or is something being repressed? What happened in your life just before you had this craving?
- If you must eat the food you crave, enjoy it, taste it, savor it; notice its effect. Then next time, you will be more aware and free to decide if you really want whatever you crave.
Who doesn’t love sweets? The sweet flavor releases serotonin in our brains, the chemical responsible for our sense of well-being and contentment. However, when it comes to sweeteners, not all are created equal. There are side effects and health risks from refined sweeteners such as white table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup; and from artificial sweeteners like NutraSweet, saccharin and Splenda. Since refined sweeteners have been stripped of vitamins, minerals and fiber, they can spike your blood sugar, which often leads to cravings and mood and energy fluctuations. Instead, use naturally and minimally processed sweeteners to help reduce cravings for sugary treats.
The following are a few natural sweeteners to substitute in drinks, food and baking. You can find them in most supermarkets or natural food stores. Remember, since they are all approximately 1.5 times sweeter than refined sugar, use less. When replacing sugar with liquid sweeteners in a recipe, reduce the amount of other liquids.
Everyone seems to love honey, one of the oldest natural sweeteners on the market. Honey has a different flavor depending on the plant source, with some being very dark and intensely flavored. Whenever possible, choose raw honey; it is unrefined and contains small amounts of enzymes, minerals and vitamins.
Agave is made through the extraction and purification of the juice of the agave cactus. It does not stimulate insulin secretion as other sugars do, so it does not create a “sugar rush.” It has a delightfully light and mild flavor.
Maple syrup is the concentrated extract of the sap of maple trees. It adds a rich, deep flavor to foods and drinks. Make sure to look for 100% pure maple syrup, not maple-flavored corn syrup. As with all sweeteners, organic varieties are best.
Made from a plant root, Stevia is a plant native to South America. It is probably best known as a source of natural sweeteners. In foods, stevia is used as a non-caloric sweetener and flavor enhancer. In fact, native South Americans have used stevia as a sweetener for hundreds of years, with the leaves used to make medicine.
Try this delectable recipe that tastes great any time of year!
Maple Fruit Compote with Honey-Ginger Toasted Nuts
Adapted from “The Cane Mutiny,” New Age Magazine.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
2-3 peaches or pears
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup raisins
juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup walnuts or nuts of your choice
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons honey
- Wash, core and chop fruit into slices or chunks.
- Place in a large saucepan with 1/3 cup of water. Add the maple syrup and raisins.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
- Add lemon juice and cinnamon. Cook for another 10 minutes, until soft.
- While fruit is cooking, place chopped nuts in a skillet over medium heat and toast, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
- Drizzle honey over the nuts and add ginger, but keep stirring since the honey can easily burn.
- Top warm fruit with toasted nuts.
It’s always my pleasure to help everyone become happier and healthier. Make sure to visit my website. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me anytime at email@example.com. You can also find me at PRISM Med Spa.
Linda Wood-Hoyte, Life Coach & Fitness Expert
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