These 15 tips for overcoming cravings can help you on your clean eating journey!
1. Lean in to the difficulty
One of my closest friends recently started cutting out sugar and processed foods. I received a text from her that read “Clean eating is SO FREAKING HARD! My body craves the sugar and preservatives, I don’t know how you do it so strictly!”
I assured her it felt extremely hard for me too when I started eating clean. In fact, I do not know anyone who felt like cutting out sugar and processed food was easy.
If it feels hard to you, you are doing it right! Subsequently, it will get easier. Give it time. It will be SO worth it!
2. Understand what causes cravings
Your body may feel like your enemy when it comes to cravings. However, understanding what may be causing our cravings can help us understand how to overcome them.
According to the Evolution of the Modern Diet NTP Study Guide, the following may be contributing to the cravings we experience:
- Imbalances in our body and the environment
- Imbalances in our gut microbiome
- Hyper palatability – many processed foods today, that dominate our choices of food, contain quantities of fat, sugar, and salt designed for us to crave them.
3. Keep in mind taste buds change and regenerate
When your body starts to crave your old favorite junk foods, and you do not feel like eating that organic salad, keep in mind that taste buds change.
Further, it can take a few weeks for taste buds to regenerate and change. Stick with the clean eating, and keep in mind you can learn to love the way simple real foods taste.
4. Practice self-care for withdrawal symptoms
Cutting out sugar, processed foods, and caffeine can leave you feeling a number of uncomfortable symptoms.
Where possible, schedule extra time for rest and self-care.
5. Reach out for to a supportive friend or family member
It is often said that birds of a feather flock together. If your circle of friends or family still eat all of your old favorite junk foods, reach out to a supportive friend or family member who understands clean eating and can offer you support.
On the other hand, if you do not know anyone who eats clean, seek support online through blogs or on Instagram. Do a google search for “clean eating blogs” or search hashtag #cleaneating #eatclean or #healthyeating.
6. Find healthy coping mechanisms
If you use sugar or foods that are harming your health as a coping mechanism, find healthy coping mechanisms to replace them with. Taking away a coping mechanism without replacing it can feel incredibly stressful.
If you find yourself struggling, reach out to a professional for support. Further, consider addressing any emotional trauma from your past that needs healing.
7. Learn about why whole foods are good for you
Google things like “why are sweet potatoes healthy?” and “what are the benefits of eating blueberries?” and so on. Understanding how nutritionally beneficial real foods are can help strengthen your willpower to overcome cravings.
If you are transitioning your entire family over to cleaner eating, be sure to share the health benefits over dinner. Personalize it for your children. For instance, explain to them the “super powers” of the healthy foods they are eating, and how eating healthier foods will help them do the activities they love.
8. Learn why processed food and sugar is unhealthy
Study about the unhealthy effects sugar has on the body.
Further, read the ingredients list of your favorite processed foods that you are trying to stop eating and google those ingredients. You will most likely be shocked by the negative health consequences.
9. Clean out your pantry
Get rid of processed foods and sugar that may tempt you.
Know your limits, and give yourself a break for not having super human self-control when it comes to overcoming cravings.
If cleaning out the pantry is not an option because of other family members, let them know you need certain items out of your line of sight, or have them hide them.
10. Communicate with your loved ones
Explain your health goals to your loved ones. Let them know what you need from them, and how they can support you.
Be clear and direct. Your loved ones cannot read your mind. They may not know what you need from them, or how to show you support. Have the hard conversation.
Respect the choices of your loved ones. Changing yourself is hard enough! Do not worry about changing anyone else. Chances are that in time they will see your example and make their own changes. If not, love and respect them anyway.
The exception to this? Your children who are living at home with you. You are their parent and have control over their food choices.
11. Time it right
Overcoming cravings is tough stuff. Avoid attempting to start clean eating and overcoming cravings during vacations, moves, or major life events, when possible.
Instead, choose a time when life is relatively stable and less stressful. Schedule time for rest and self-care.
12. Find ways to manage stress
The process of overcoming cravings can feel incredibly stressful. Find ways to manage your stress.
For instance, ideas for stress management include getting out in nature, deep breathing, meditation, exercise, yoga, getting enough sleep, and doing things that bring you joy.
13. Remember to laugh and find joy
Try not to take things too seriously. Loosen up. Moreover, look for ways to find joy and laugh in this new journey.
This is the beginning of your new lifestyle. A new lifestyle that can bring you freedom from your cravings! Embrace the difficulty and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that YOU are stepping up and changing your life!
14. Forgive yourself when you fall short
Spoiler alert: nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. We all fall down. We all get scraped up. We all want to quit at times.
Forgive yourself. Tell yourself it is okay, and believe it.
It really is okay. I promise. Let go of your slip ups, and do not let one mistake turn into a lifetime of them.
In other words, pick yourself back up, lovingly dust yourself off, forgive yourself, and try again.
15. Find your why and cling to it
Last, but certainly not least, dig deep and find your why.
WHY do you want to overcome cravings??
WHY do you want to improve your health??
WHY do you want to change your life??
Really think about your answers. Write them down. Remind yourself of them. Most importantly, cling to them.
Your “why” is going to be what gets you through the hard days. When you are at a party and everyone around you is eating junk food and desserts, remembering your why will help you keep your promise to yourself.
Cheering You On!
Please know I am cheering you on SO loud!
I know personally how hard it is to overcome cravings and to start eating clean.
As my dear friend said so fittingly “Clean eating is SO FREAKING HARD!”
It is. For awhile.
Then it gets easier, and you reap ALL the benefits of doing the hard work to overcome cravings and eating clean!
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