“How do I control my cravings?” I get asked this a lot.

And after helping men and women lose weight (and keep it off) for over 12 years, I find that most of us know what we “should” eat (for the most part) but finding out what impedes us from staying on that healthy track seems to leave us all shaking our heads in confusion.

When I work with my weight loss patients, we often explore what their roadblock looks like and it’s often surprising for them what comes up! Some crave comfort food and some are eating the wrong proportion of carbs and protein causing gigantic sweet cravings. Others is the lack of time to prepare the food or the lack of desire and motivation to prepare the food.

No matter your roadblock, there are 7 steps you can take to manage those cravings…

  1. Understand the Initial 3-5 Days. These are the most difficult as we go through eliminating unhealthy fats and sugars. The cravings will increase these first few days. Think of this as your “withdrawal” process. I work with my patients to curb these cravings by incorporating a physical shift in their diets that helps immensely.
  2. Carbs, Protein, and Fat Balance. When these are in balance, you will find you find cravings occur less and less because you are properly fueling the body. Consuming enough protein and healthy fat with each meal is an important aspect of appetite control.
  3. Prepare your Meals and Snacks Ahead of Time. This is just a must. Pick a day (Sundays seem to work for many people) and make that your day to prep for the week. Make little snack bags with celery and peanut butter, apples, nuts – you name it to keep you energized for the week ahead.
  4. The Power of A Healthy Shake. Don’t have enough time? Many of my clients benefit from a healthy medical shake (like Mediclear or Detoxicleanse) to make it easy to “fit” this preparation time into their early stages of their weight loss journey.
  5. Supplements. Through our investigative work-up (labs, health history and physical exam) we figure out imbalances in your body.
    With supervised application of pharmaceutical grade supplements, you will begin to supplement your body with the right nutrients to help the cravings dissipate.
  6. Stress Management Support. Often stress causes us to crave higher fats, carbs, and sugar. This is why it’s a MUST to work on stress management with honest guidance coaching, and also herbs/nutrients to fortify your adrenal glands and possibly modulate cortisol (the stress hormone cortisol causes abdominal weight gain) to help you with your weight loss goals.
  7. Neurotransmitter Balance. Did you know your brain chemistry affects our cravings? Reduced dopamine in our brains causes an addictive pattern. Low serotonin can cause us to crave carbohydrates. Addressing our brain chemistry and balancing it can decrease our cravings and keep us on track with diet.

The coaching I do with patients is an integral part of finding out why they are not eating healthy – so we can motivate change and create a lasting pattern. In his book, Triggers, Marshall Goldsmith – a renowned coach who works with many powerful CEOs – speaks on how to make behavioural change. One of the biggest things is that we must embrace our commitment to change.

And often it starts with little steps – simply saying, “Today I am going to do different.” Each day, say the same thing and let those small steps lead to the bigger picture.

Try out a few of these steps and see how it goes. What changes do you notice? What are the challenges? Leave a comment below or email me.

Jennifer Bunzenmeyer Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

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