Cravings: Fix the underlying cause, and try some “hacks” on the journey
Great manufacturing and service companies know that quality problems are best solved by finding the earliest possible root cause and fixing the problems there. Don’t wait to fix it later - it will be more expensive, take more time, and probably be of lower quality. Go to the underlying cause. To mix metaphors, solve problems up stream, as close to the initial cause as possible. Don’t be so proud of fixing customer service problems faster, at lower cost, etc. – how can we get rid of them completely?
Functional medicine attempts to go to root causes vs. simply dealing with symptoms. What might be at the root of your uncontrollable cravings? For many people, an answer lies in their basic metabolism. In non-medical terms, are you primarily a sugar burner or a fat burner? Most of us fall into the sugar burner category. It’s hard to avoid, with all the processed food and added sugars we encounter. (To learn more, read Gary Taubes’ recent book “The Case Against Sugar”; NY Times review.) Changing your fundamental relationship with nutrition to embrace high quality proteins and fats, minimize unhealthy carbohydrates, and fervently avoid processed foods will help you get rid of cravings. How would you like to go through an energy-filled day and realize at the end that you never even had a craving?
That very important transformation goes to the root cause of cravings. It is the subject of tons of research, health practices, hundreds of books, and even custom coaching services, so I won’t deal with it here. In the meantime, what if you are not fat adapted? Are there some healthy “hacks” to try when I do have cravings? Here are some of my favorites:
- If you usually get cravings at a certain time, plan for it, and perhaps eat healthy, satiating food well beforehand.
- Breathe deeply, think calmly about how good you’ll feel when the craving passes and you have not succumbed.
- Change something: stand up and walk around, do some pushups or squats, distract yourself with something engaging like a game or article. Call your friend, write your mother. Sit somewhere else. Go for a walk. You get the idea…
- Just deal with it using good old fashioned discipline. “Out, damn craving!”
- Go ahead and have something! But keep healthy snack foods at hand, like a bowl of fruit on the counter, a jar of your own mix of nuts to grab a handful. I keep a dark chocolate bar (85% cacao or more) in the freezer for a treat; let the piece melt under your tongue.
- Prepare some satiating food ahead of time. Hard boiled eggs are easy to make and transport. Avocados are great anytime, and a wonderful source of fiber and fat.
- Don’t toss out that leftover salad! Keep it in the fridge, and bring it out when the craving hits.
- If you are heading to a holiday party or event, imagine the whole event beforehand and how you will both have fun and be disciplined. Drink plenty of water. And call upon your inner strength.
For more ideas, see these recent posts: