Monday, December 1, 2008

Five Ways To Curb Your Sweet Tooth

There’s nothing like determination, willpower and focus to keep you on target. Couple that with a smart nutrition and exercise plan and you’ll be unstoppable! When it comes to determination, one of the greatest benefits of regular Bikram is the crossover to the rest of your life. If you're anything like me then I'll bet you've learned to:

* Manage stress more effectively
* Stay calm(er!) when you'd usually be frantic
* Delay gratification when times are tough

If you think about it, reaching continually for the water bottle in class is no different to reaching for that Freddo Frog, glass of wine, creamy pasta (insert your own indulgence) during or after a stressful day.

Despite all this, for me there's one temptation I still struggle with. And I'm guessing I'm not the only one. It's hard to tell if it's years of habit, the ready availability of this drug of my choice (chocolate!), or a genuine demand from my brain, but come mid-afternoon I automatically think of one thing. I want it, I need it, I must have it. And I do. Or at least, I used to. You might not be a chocoholic, but I'll bet you've experienced cravings before, and - whether it's a regular urge or not - when those feelings of desire overwhelm you it's hard to resist giving in.

But here's the good news - just as you can learn how to still your mind and wait just one, two, three, even ten seconds longer before breaking out of that pose, you can also learn how to overcome those sweet craving and wait those extra minutes or hours until the urgent need has passed.

Five Ways To Curb Your Sweet Tooth

1. Stop the cravings before they show up

I’ve found that many of my clients – even the ‘healthy’ eaters – rely heavily on carbohydrates over proteins and fats. Protein and fat are a crucial part of your diet. They form the building blocks of your hormonal system, and without them your body cannot perform all it’s metabolic duties.

When you don’t include (natural, whole sources of) protein and fat in your main meals, or only do so from time to time, your body starts sending distress signals telling your brain to get nutrition immediately! Sugar is what you’ll crave because it provides that quick fix .. followed by a quick dump leading to further cravings. If you lay the foundations by including protein and fat at breakfast and lunch, the sugar cravings will gradually stop.

2. Remove temptation or remove yourself

It’s just too easy to dip into the biscuit jar or sweets bag when everyone else is doing it. If you can’t clear your office space of sweet devils (try suggesting a healthy snack plan for the entire workplace!) then remove yourself.

At mid-afternoon munchie time, just make your excuses and get out of there – fast! Even if it means you sit in the toilet cubicle for 15 minutes. If you work from home, keep a rule of no sweets in the house. That way you’ll have to make the effort to go out, and this is easier to talk yourself out of. Sounds simple, but it works.

3. Brush your teeth

We’re conditioned to understand that freshly brushed teeth mean food is behind us. Try this simple distraction technique as soon as the sweet urge hits you, and then …

4. Get busy

Ever noticed you always seem to eat more junk when you’re having a slow day? Make mid-afternoon (or whenever your cravings hit) your ‘super-productive’ time. Schedule meetings for this time, run errands, do housework – just do something that requires you keep moving and let the temptation time go by that little bit faster.

5. Get (true) satisfaction

Once the cravings set in, they’re only going to get worse until your body gets what it needs. Guess what? True satisfaction means real food, in all its glorious richness.

Try indulging with a small piece of quality cheese, some avocado with sea salt on thinly sliced sourdough, or some natural nut butter with celery sticks. The key here is to go for fat or protein based snacks, not sugar based – even fruit. Once sweet cravings have set in, carbs will only make it worse.

Eating and living well doesn’t need to be a constant battle – if you follow these points you’ll find it easier and easier to push away the demand for instant gratification, and you may even find your newfound will-power crossing back over into the Bikram room.

Next time the urge hits you - whether it's in or out of the sweat box - you'll be well equipped to hold out, and you know that the true gratification which follows such willpower is well worth waiting for. Isn't it?

Food for Yoga. Food for Life.


*Yes I do still go for the chocolate from time to time - but I ensure it is a conscious choice not a daily habit!

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