As a fitness professional I engage in conversations about nutrition on a daily basis. The term “sweet tooth’ is something I hear often. I’ll ask a member, “Hey Lucille how has your nutrition been this week?” “It’s been good coach, lots of protein and I’m controlling my carbs. I did have a slip up last night and had a bowl of ice cream. You know I have that damn sweet tooth.”
I think we are due for a discussion on fighting off cravings (perfect timing for our members who are going in to phase 2 of The Summer Shred Challenge).
The Legend of Sweet Tooth
I did extensive research to see if an actual sweet tooth existed. I could not find any literature on the existence of a single tooth that sends signals to the brain prompting us to eat something sweet.
This is good news! I wasn’t looking forward to the conversation I would need to have with my kids someday. “Olivia, Ben, come sit down next to me for a minute. It’s time I tell you something that you need to know. You see, us Lucibello’s have a genetic defect known as the Sweet Tooth. Your great grandfather had it, your grandfather has it, I have it and unfortunately it has been passed down to both of you. This Sweet Tooth creates uncontrollable urges that force you to eat sweets like ice cream and candy every night. I’m sorry I have to break this to you, but I couldn’t hold back the truth any longer. I know this is tough to swallow, but there is good news. The doctor ran a bunch of tests on me and it seems that you didn’t inherit my Beer Tooth, Fried Chicken Tooth or Wine Tooth!”
Habits & Cravings
Eating something sweet every night an hour after dinner is not a craving, it’s a habit. Good habits are just as easy to form as bad ones. If you are trying to break a habit of eating sweets every night, maybe going for a walk before the craving sets in could help. A 15-30 minute walk is a lot of additional movement that can create a distraction from your craving, relieve stress and be quality time spent with your significant other. Not having the foods you crave in the house helps as well. It’s your habit to break. It’s up to you to come up with a plan on how to change it.
Cravings are natural, but usually have a trigger that sets them off. These triggers are almost always caused by emotions and lack of energy.
- Bad mood/sadness – Food is always there for you. It won’t cheat, beat, disagree or answer back.
- Happy – We often use food to celebrate or reward ourselves.
- Boredom – Sitting around watching TV. Not being active.
- Stress – Food is often a coping mechanism.
- Cravings come when we are in need of energy and hungry. Cravings come from the brain and the brain will think about high carb, high fat, sugary foods for a fast burst of energy.
Tips For Avoiding Cravings
- Control energy levels – Find a nutrition plan that works for you. Eat the right foods the majority of the time and you’ll crave the right foods. You’ll also have sustained energy throughout the day.
- Make a plan to give in – There is a time and place for indulgences in your diet. Instead of letting them happen randomly, plan them.
- Distract yourself – When you start thinking of chowing down on a bag of skittles do something else. Call a friend, write poetry or clean the baseboards. Before you give in, say to yourself, “I really got after it today at the gym and I feel good. I don’t need this.”
- Do physical activity – Drop down and give me twenty. Seriously, get moving when the cravings come a calling. Like I mentioned above, go for a walk or run. I’ve read somewhere that most cravings will go away in 15 minutes. Clear your mind.
- Pamper yourself – Take a bubble bath, paint your toe nails, manscape.
- Only keep healthy food in the house– Go ahead and devour that container of blueberries. Eat that cantaloupe right out of its shell. If you can’t control it, you might as well make it nutritious.
Take a look at your overall nutrition. What if you didn’t give in to one craving a week? That’s 52 cravings you avoided. Do you think that can lead to a positive change both physically and mentally? I do.