Between day 3-5 of going sugar-free and clean eating, lots of people complain about being more hungry. And I’m there! These are the danger days as initial motivation begins to fade and the demands of willpower begins. Starchy treats are starting to sound better and I find myself drawn to think about when I might again, if ever, eat toast. Plus, it’s a rainy Friday and I would love nothing better than glass of wine curled up on the sofa.
A clean-eating, paleo-lifestyle expert and friend of mine told me that often this sensation of increased hunger is all in the mind. And I think this could be true. As we change our habits, eat less sweet things and junk food, we need a treat. But it’s a need psychologically, not physically. After about 3 days, we need willpower. But willpower is like muscle – it gets tired after extended use and is weak when it hasn’t been exercised. So until new, healthy behaviours are cemented as habit, we need to work that willpower!
But as I sit here wondering if herbal tea will be as fun as wine tonight, I realise that whether it’s all in my mind or not, I still crave it. Regardless of the divide between the psychological and physical, what I experience is a body that wants a treat! Time to switch into problem solving mode and get some little tricks going to aid the growth of willpower muscle. After all, just telling myself not to have it probably won’t be enough. Recent research in the Journal of Health Psychology suggests that thinking of an indulgent treat, such as a biscuit, increases our intention to eat one. Unfortunately, they also propose that thinking of healthy treats, like fruit, doesn’t affect us in the same way (Adams, C., Rennie, L., Uskul, AK. and Appleton, AM. (2013). Visualising future behaviour: Effects for snacking on biscuit bars, but no effects for snacking on fruit. Journal of Health Psychology. Nov 11. [Epub ahead of print]). Unfair as it is, our brains seem primed to drive us towards sugar, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get clever! Here’s what I’ll be doing to beat my day 3 cravings:
1. Change a habit – I want wine because I’ve set a habit over December of having a glass almost every night. Almost every night, except the nights I had a beer! Wine and DVD. Cup of tea and biscuit with your bestie. Friday night takeaway. These are all habits that will ruin your detox. Change a habit, and the often the craving will subside, too. So tonight, I’ll keep away from the DVDs until much later in the evening. I have magazines I’d like to read and a half finished oil painting in the spare bedroom. Lots to do to keep me distracted.
2. Eat more veg/Eat more healthy fats – Make sure your hunger isn’t because of not enough food. Remember starvation and calorie restriction is counter-productive and dangerous. If in doubt, eat more veg! Snack on it. Bring it along in your handbag. Make it your best friend! And plenty of healthy fats will ensure your body has the fuel and right nutrients to beat back cravings. Raw nuts, olive oil on the mountains of veg, seeds on your salad, avocado. Yum!
3. Wait 15 min – If all else fails,set a timer for 15 min. Tell yourself if you still want it that bad after 15 min, you’ll have it. Set the timer then go clean the bathroom, do your nails, have a shower, call a friend. Most cravings will subside or you find the willpower to wait another 15 min while you prepare healthy alternative.
Keep it up everyone. 2014 is going to be great!