Carbohydrates are a source of energy for your body. They include simple carbs such as sugar and starch and complex carbs, which contain fiber and can be found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and beans.
Consuming too many carbs can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol levels. Because carb cravings usually occur when you’re tired or stressed, these unhealthy levels of carbs can take a toll on your health. Try these effective strategies to satisfy you without blowing your diet to reduce carb cravings.
Why should you choose low-carb alternatives?
- If you are on a weight-loss diet, carbs are the first thing you should cut back on. They are notorious for storing fat and adding extra pounds to your body. Low-carb alternatives can help you curb your cravings and make sure you do not binge eat.
- Carbs give you short-term energy rushes, which require your body to produce excessive amounts of insulin. This leads to insulin resistance, often called pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome. These conditions may lead to diabetes and other problems like heart disease.
- Low carb diets are easier to follow than most other diets because they don’t leave you hungry all day long.
- If you want to maintain a healthy weight for the long term, low-carb alternatives can effortlessly help you reach that goal.
How to break carb cravings
1. Try mindful eating.
You’ve probably heard all about mindful eating. It’s the idea of being more aware of your food choices and how you feel before, during, and after eating. It sounds simple, but it can be a hard habit to get into. But when you’re trying to control your carb cravings, mindfulness is the key.
The next time a craving hits, try these simple mindful eating tips:
Notice the urge. Recognizing the craving or desire for carbs is the first step in managing it.
Use your senses. When we eat mindfully, we make use of our other senses besides taste to fully experience our food: its texture, temperature, and appearance. Engaging our senses helps us be more satisfied with what we’re eating.
Focus on your body’s hunger cues. A craving is not a full-blown appetite; it’s a desire for something specific. This means that you may not actually be hungry at all! Are you feeling dizzy or shaky? That’s a sign that you’re hungry and need to eat something soon rather than just a craving for a specific food like a donut or popcorn.
2. Keep your brain busy
Research suggests that boredom may be a key trigger of carb cravings. Make sure that you have plenty to do and plenty of other helpful activities that keep your mind occupied and off of food — like taking a walk or reading a book, thus beating the carb cravings.
3. Plan your meals
Planning is one of the best ways to break the carb addiction. Plan out your meals at least a week in advance, and make a list of what you’ll need at the grocery store, so you don’t end up buying things on impulse.
Understand the glycemic index. The glycemic index (GI) measures how foods affect your blood sugar level after eating them. Foods with a high GI (white bread and white rice, for example) cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels, leading to hunger pangs and overeating. Foods with a low GI (like beans and lentils) have a more negligible effect on blood sugar levels, providing longer-lasting energy.
Watch portion sizes. Some carbohydrates — like pasta and rice — are super easy to overeat because they’re so low in calories compared to many other foods.
4. Exercise regularly
Physical activity helps balance the hormones that make you feel hungry and full, which may help reduce your cravings.
5. Sleep well
Get enough sleep each night. Lack of sleep can make you feel hungry even if you don’t need to eat. Poor sleep can also affect hormones in the body that control appetite, which may lead to carb cravings.
6. Drink plenty of water
If you drink plenty of water, you will feel less hungry and less likely to want to eat unnecessary calories. It’s easy to confuse thirst with hunger, so make sure that you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
7. Reduce strachy carbs
Starchy carbs have a high glycemic index and cause your blood sugar to spike rapidly after eating them. Examples of starchy foods include bread and pasta made from white flour; potatoes; corn; white rice; couscous; granola bars; crackers; bagels; candy bars; cakes; pastries; pretzels; cookies; pies and sugary cereals. If you make your own bread or baked goods, replace refined flours with whole-wheat or whole-grain flours that are lower on the glycemic index
What to eat when you are craving carbs?
- Eat the proteins – Protein is essential for building muscle and keeping full between meals – plus it helps regulate blood sugar levels, which can prevent spikes in insulin that lead to cravings. Eat protein at every meal (like eggs, nuts, seeds) and snack on lean protein like chicken or turkey slices throughout the day!
- Eat the nuts – Snack on a handful of nuts or seeds or enjoy a low-carb treat like a fat bomb. The healthy fats will fill you up and curb those pesky carb cravings.
- Eat complex carbs – Complex carbs take longer to break down than simple carbs (think cereal, bread, or pasta), so they help keep you feeling full longer, which helps control cravings. Good sources of complex carbs include sweet potatoes, brown rice, beans and lentils, quinoa, and whole-grain bread and cereals.
- Increase your liquid intake – Dehydration can sometimes mimic hunger pangs, so grab a glass of water next time you feel a craving coming on. If it’s real hunger, you’ll still be hungry in about 20 minutes.
So there you have it. Seven simple strategies that you can start using today to help curb your carb cravings. Implementing these ideas will help set you up for success as you strive to live a healthier lifestyle, but they aren’t anything more than strategies. The real success comes when you use them consistently, day in and day out, with the support of your friends or family members and a strong desire to improve the way that you feel.
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