I’m lucky, I know, I’ve been blessed with good genetics and brought up by a mum who taught me to eat because I needed to. This meant small, clean, simple meals using olive oil and spices for the flavours instead of butter and cream. This upbringing has instilled a love of healthy foods with some treats thrown in the mix (I have a nasty sweet tooth and minimal willpower) and the ability to make healthy food that (I think) tastes good!
It saddens me when people aren’t excited to eat a “healthy” meal – a bed of lettuce with fresh veggies, lean protein and some lemon juice dressing – because they feel they’re limited to the boring and mundane. I know we all get into food ruts, but these ruts shouldn’t be caused by limiting your food options due to a diet! That, my friends, leads to a very viscous cycle of deprivation followed by indulgence, followed by…
It’s hard to reverse cravings you’ve spent a lifetime developing, but there are ways to minimize them, and I’m not going to tell you to drink water and wait 15 minutes, because, although wonderful in theory, does not work when my brain latches onto a Blizzard craving! My three craving-busting tips are:
- Work out! When a craving hits, work it off before you eat it, this does two things 1) gives you a workout, which leads to 2) raises your endorphin levels and lowers your desire for crap food
- Think about your craving and ask yourself if it’s really worth it, if the answer is “yes, if I don’t give into this craving I’m going to eat far more”, then
- Give in! Make the conscious decision to enjoy whatever it is you’re craving, and maybe order the smallest, pre-portioned size (not the family-sized bag of M&M’s because they’re on sale)
A point about number 2 up there; a lot of times, we try to replace the real thing with a “more healthy” substitution, these substitutions are usually chemical sh*t storms developed in a lab as an attempt to fool your body, they don’t work. If you’re craving sugar, don’t try to replace it with an artificial sweetener! However, if you’ve thought about your craving and have decided you can do better, a little honey won’t hurt.
Be conscious of your cravings and, as I’ve said before, add so many wonderful, healthy, clean, natural FOODS that you don’t have space for the junk anymore.
So onto the healthy tips:
- Use onions, garlic, spices, chili flakes… Chili flakes have become my go-to when a dish is lacking a little je ne sais quoi.
- Use millet (just bought some and excited to experiment!), quiona, zucchini, squash, rice noodles, rice, tofu noodles… there are so many options these days, play with them!
- Know your comfort foods. I LOVE spaghetti, maybe because we ate a lot of it when I was growing up, but, good golly, do I ever love it! But here’s the thing, my spaghetti sauce is loaded with spinach (or Kale), onions, garlic and organic tofu (or extra lean meat).
- Play with methods of preparing your food. Bored with baked chicken breast? Try stir-frying it for a salad topper.
- Did I mention spices!? Play! Get creative!
- Jump onto Pintrest to see what others are doing. When I was getting back into shrimp, I searched Pintrest for shrimp recipes and was amazed with all the options.
- Try to know what you’re eating. If you can’t/don’t know how/don’t have time to make it yourself, do your best to find a product as close to how you would make it if you could.
- In the words of Michael Pollan: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”
There is no magic pill, no magic workout, no replacement for eating good (tasty) food and sweating once a day.