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How to Curb Those Carbohydrate Cravings!

As a weight loss mentor it never ceases to amaze me how people inadvertently set themselves up for a huge snack attack mid afternoon. For many, the set up is so complete that it is almost impossible to control! The result is that people think they are weak-willed and lacking in discipline. Often the answer has little to do with character or determination. More often the reason for the mid afternoon carbohydrate cravings is due to gaps in understanding how our body works and responds to diferent types of food. Read on to see what you can do to control those mid afternoon cravings.

Trigger foods

If you want to control those cravings there are a few principles you must be aware of. The first is concerning trigger foods. Nutritional research has documented, carbohydrates trigger the brain to crave more carbohydrates, leading to a cycle of carbohydrate eating that becomes hard to control. Trigger foods keep you fat. The goal is to have control over these foods rather than allowing them to have control over you.

What do trigger foods look like? Well, they vary from person to person, but typically look like soft drinks, potato chips, corn chips, peanuts, french fries, cheese, pizza, chocolate chip cookies, pretzel, apple pie, candy bar and so on. These are the foods that for many, "once we pop, we can't stop!".

Isn't it amazing that all these types of foods are available from take-away places? They are so readily available and have crept into our daily routine without us even planning it to happen. We get hungry, we are busy, we are distracted, and one serve leads to another; and we don't realise just how much we are eating as the triggering effect takes place in our brains. By eating a small portion of any of the above you can easily consume anywhere from 350 to 1000 calories. Two serves could be 700 to 2000 calories! Most women on a weight loss program are aiming for between 1200-1400 calories a day, so you can see that one snack can seriously sabotage your plans. Does this sound like you? I can hear the deep sighs of regret and frustration! Don't worry, there are answers for you.

You can be empowered to take control when you know how to avoid the nutritional set up that will drive you towards trigger foods.

Here are a few simple principles that will deal a wounding blow to the late afternoon "snack monster".

Five steps to avoid carbohydrate cravings:

1. Incorporate protein in to your breakfast AND lunch. Protein is key to controlling carbohydrate cravings. The RDA of protein for women is 60 grams a day. For women wanting to lose weight, health professionals recommend approximately 100 grams of protein daily. Why? One of the principle advantages of protein is that it creates a feeling of fullness and satisfaction in the body that makes overeating much less likely. Source your protein from ultra lean sources so you don't pick up unwanted calories and saturated fats.

Even better, than providing a sense of sustained fullness, protein can block the triggering effect that carbohydrates can have on the brain. If you eat protein with a carbohydrate it will reduce the cravings caused by eating the carbohydrate.

2. Never skip meals. Research has shown that people who skip meals are more prone to obesity than those who regularly eat 3 meals a day. In fact, people who space their daily food requirements by making appropriate use of healthy snacks do even better. Why is this? When you skip meals you are more likely to get hungry and fill up on easily obtained fast foods which are often trigger foods.

3. Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water throughout the day. For some people sugar laden soft drinks are a trigger food. Make sure you don't get thirsty in the first place. Water creates a sense of fullness and has a host of other health benefits.

4. Plan the timing of your meals so that you don't get hungry. Despite having three healthy meals a day, sometimes your work schedule can mean the spacing of those meals still does not guard against the carbohydrate cravings. If you have a long gap between meals, make sure you carry healthy snacks to cover the distance, otherwise hunger will set in

5. Plan your snacks. Plan out your weekly snack schedule with some delicious, healthy snacks. Purchase these with your weekly shopping so that you are fully prepared. If you need to, get up a few minutes earlier in the morning so you have time to prepare and take your snacks to work. Remember, healthy snacks don't live in a vending machine! You are less likely to get hungry when you have a ready supply of healthy snacks.

6. Carry emergency supplies of nutritional protein bars in your handbag or brief case. When you feel a carbohydrate craving, eat the protein bar instead and wait 30 minutes before acting on the craving. More often than not the craving will pass and you will be in control again. This truly works!

Incorporate these principles into your daily routine and you could be well underway to change your life and be able to take control over the mid afternoon 'snack attacks'.

Kim Beardsmore, B.Sc. (Biochemistry) is a wellness consultant. To see what you can do to take control of your weight or to maximize your best personal shape, visit her website at:


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