In our last blog, we talked about decoding our cravings with Intuitive Eating. Intuitive Eating is a powerful tool in understanding why we eat what we eat. To piggy-back off of our last blog, we will talk about addressing our cravings using our Health Coaches most helpful method, “Crowding Out.” The Crowding Out method is about understanding our cravings and looking at healthy foods and habits that satisfy us instead of leading us towards unhealthy foods.
When we look at hunger signals, we find that not all hunger signals are the same. Some hunger signals are messages that we are hungry for nourishment. Other signals are messages that we are stressed, hungry for affection, attention, alone time, unhappy, and the list goes on.
When we look at the Crowding Out method, we have to look at our hunger signals and ask if we are hungry for food or emotional support. With this in mind, let’s discuss what Crowding Out would look like in both scenarios.
Crowding Out with food:
- Eat breakfast. Breakfast doesn’t have to be an early morning meal, especially if you aren’t hungry. But eating food in the morning at some point is essential for hormonal balancing, weight management and blood sugar regulation.
- Load up on healthy fats. Healthy fats don’t make you fat. In fact, they do the opposite. Fat drives nutrients into the cell, so pairing your meals with healthy fat is essential for getting as many nutrients out of your meal as possible. These fats also leave you full longer, which means fewer cravings.
- Eat enough throughout the day. If you aren’t eating enough food throughout the day, you’re more likely to be ravenous at the end of the day when meals should be lighter.
- Hydrate according to your body’s needs. How much water does your body need? Generally, the equation we want to use is to take our body weight, switch out pounds for ounces, and divide that number by 2, giving us how much we should be drinking in ounces. For example, let’s say you’re 150lbs. Swap the pounds for ounces. Now we have 150oz, then divide the 150 by 2, which equals 75. 75oz is how much water you should be drinking in one day if you are 150lbs. This equation does not include physical activity. Listen to your body and if you find yourself thirsty after drinking enough for your body, then drink more.
- Load up on protein. Many times when we are hungry, it is for protein. Ensuring we get enough animal or plant-based protein or both in our diets can make a huge difference in hunger.
- Do not skip meals. Skipping meals is all too common with a busy lifestyle. Eating at roughly the same times each day will help your elimination systems and put your body on a schedule.
When we are hungry for food off of our plates, this hunger usually comes in the form of wanting sweets and salty/crunchy foods. We crave these foods when we are under stress, feeling sad, emotionally hurt, seeking comfort, needing emotional or physical intimacy, etc. Our Health Coaches have found that food cravings tend to strike at night. And when we eat calorically dense food at night, this contributes to weight gain.
This brings us to our tips on increasing the emotional support in our lives so we feel seen, heard, supported, and loved. When we feel fully supported, we tend to reach for the snacks less.
How to Crowd Out with emotional support:
- Honor your emotions. Acknowledge how you feel, whether sad, mad, stressed, and say it out-loud, even if just to yourself.
- Communicate how you feel to a trusted friend or family member, to a therapist, or significant other.
- Keep a journal.
- Find a creative outlet for how you feel. If you draw, paint, sing, write music, write scripts, play sports, find a way to let your emotions out in a healthy way.
- Spend intimate time with a friend or partner. Look into each other’s eyes and let each other know what you love about each other, engage in long hugs, spend time cuddling, be present with one another. Our coaches have found that random long hugs throughout the day have had a marked effect on their patients and their food cravings.
- Stress management. Meditation, breath-work, physical exercise, yoga, qigong. Finding healthy ways to release our stress will have a HUGE impact on our cravings. Our cravings go up when we are under incredible amounts of stress. The less stressed we are, the fewer cravings we have.
- Relaxing movement. If you pair a highly stressful job with a high-intensity cardio workout, you may end up gaining weight instead of losing it. Relaxing movements like qigong, yoga, walking, and swimming, to name a few, are great alternatives to physically stressful workouts.
Finding a balance using the Crowding Out method with food and emotional support will help you cultivate a tuned-in approach to your food choices. This method takes time to implement, so be patient. Perfection isn’t what we are going for. Being more aware of where our choices come from is the goal. And this is a great place to start.
We hope you found this helpful!
Dr. Horowitz & Staff