Fighting Food Cravings

Fighting Food Cravings

During my last blog, I wrote a little bit about fasting. Several questions came through in regards to staving hunger and cravings during this fast. I have put together a simple list of ways to avoid hunger throughout the day, whether fasting or just trying to avoid the extra snacking and calories.


First of all, let’s understand what causes most food cravings. The health of your gut and the flora in your gut can actually determine what you are craving, from chocolate to protein. See my blog Control Your Cravings With Microbes.  

The other biggest factor in controlling cravings is sleep. When you are low on sleep, ghrelin, your appetite stimulating hormone, is really high, forcing you to crave foods like sugary carbohydrates. Couple that with the fact that when you’re sleep deprived your appetite regulating hormone, leptin, is really low so it can’t regulate these cravings.


UC Berkley did a study that found impaired activity in the frontal lobe of the brain of sleep deprived people, which is the decision making part of the brain. This is also the reward part of the brain. So, when you normally eat something that is enjoyable and rewarding, like those kale chips, you don’t get a release of dopamine that supports satisfaction and reward because the frontal lobe of the brain is not functioning optimally, so you just keep eating and trying to get that reward or satisfaction feeling from food. Not only does your ability to regulate cravings drop but willpower drops as well, so your drive to workout suffers. This combination can lead to weight gain.   


We have all been there and had stress and sleepless nights, so here are the best ways to fight back against the cravings that ensue.


Coconut milk based smoothies: They offer a quick, easy way to get good fat into your body.  Here is one of my favorites, The Green Smoothie.


Sparkling water: It helps make you feel full. Pellegrino is good with nothing added to it.  I also like Zevia, it has natural flavor and is only sweetened with Stevia.


Natural chewing gum:  Be careful on this one. Pick a gum that works for you.  I like Simply Gum and Glee Gum. Low sugar is sometimes better than xylitol, as too much xylitol can give you stomach problems.


Insoluble fiber: Try miracle noodles. With zero carbs and almost no calories, they are made from a Konjac plant. They absorb water and expand in your stomach to make you feel full.


Overall, the best solution is to get on top of your sleep. 8.5 hours every 24 hours is ideal.  Let me know what works for you to stave off cravings.