I’m so excited, because we’ve actually had a internet connection for the last 3 days straight. Totally unheard of in these parts. 🙂 Woot!
On to other more interesting topics…like JSJ Week 5!
How’s it going? Have you been able to stick with your meal plan so far this week? Why or why not? What “yumma-licious” yes, it’s a word…to me at least, snack did you make this week?
I meal plan pretty much every week, so this week’s challenge wasn’t a curveball for me by any means. But…that doesn’t always mean that I stick to my meal plan. I like to hold it loosely, where I feel I can still be flexible, by using the same ingredients, but maybe in a different way than originally planned. Which means I still get all the benefits of meal planning without stifling my creativity in the kitchen.
Oh…and I made a new snack recipe last night, which I plan to taste-test with some afternoon coffee. 😉
Ah…afternoon coffee, it’s that 3pm thing where the work day is, but isn’t almost over. You still need to get a few things done, but your mind is starting to check out already. If you are a stay at home Mom, it might be your only down time when the kids are napping or playing, and you deserve a sweet break. Am I right Mamas?
I find that a cup of coffee in the afternoon is a good pick me up, and I always keep myself in check with “am I drinking this for the caffeine or because I truly enjoy it”…and I think I’ll always be in love with a good cup of french press. But I’m not saying it works for everyone.
But it’s not the coffee that I wanted to talk about today.
No it’s that unwanted thing that comes with it. It’s like the sugar elves throw in those dreaded sugar cravings in a “two for one” package deal. You know what I mean. When your afternoon break isn’t complete without something sweet. For those of us who don’t drink coffee, maybe that afternoon soda is often our ticket to “finish the work day bliss.”
For the last week I’ve been contemplating my own journey regarding afternoon sugar cravings, after receiving an email from a reader asking me how she could shred her 3pm cravings for something sweet once and for all. She wondered if it was possible…or if she should just “give in” once and awhile.
We all know that sugar is nutritionally void…and a nemesis to many in their journey towards health. Sugar consumption actually plays a crucial part in the struggle against obesity because it is so “sneakily” hidden in so many foods that are touted as “healthy.”
Personally I have tried several different strategies regarding my own quest to a “less sugar-filled life” and along the way I’ve learned A LOT about what works, and what doesn’t work for me. Also, I’ve learned that life is to be lived, and sometimes that means enjoying a dessert, or having a glass of wine, and there is nothing wrong with that as long as it becomes a controlled choice that we make to indulge rather than something that just happens. When that indulgence is a reaction to something else, maybe stress, or loneliness, our indulgences are reaction based and leave us feeling unsatisfied, and like failures. However, when we consider our situation, and choose when we want to indulge and when we don’t we slowly grasp control, and in my experience our cravings grow less and less frequent.
So, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tips with you in hopes that you’ll learn a new strategy to kick that afternoon sweet craving to the curb, once and for all.
Tips to Shred those pesky little Sugar Cravings:
1. Mindful eating everyday:
I know, I know, I talk about this often, but what we choose to put into our bodies from the moment we wake up until our head hits the pillow at night will dictate our success or failure in the nutrition department.
To stave off those 3pm sugar cravings eat a healthy breakfast loaded with healthy fats, and protein.
Snack smart, and eat a protein and healthy fat full lunch. I know personally whenever I fail to eat enough lean protein for lunch is when I suffer from the worst afternoon cravings for something sweet. My body is telling me that it is missing nutrients…and our bodies automatically crave instant energy which is why we crave sugary, processed foods in these situations.
For Breakfast try – Scrambled eggs, with avocado, tomato, and a sprinkle of cheese, or some full fat Greek yogurt topped with berries, and nuts.
Or my personal favorites – steel cut oatmeal with almond milk, berries, and a scoop of almond butter…or a delicious fruit and veggie smoothie with a scoop of protein powder for staying power.
2. Keep sugary treats out of sight:
In our house we have a “treat bucket” in our pantry which has dark chocolate or other treats we’ve been given by others. The bucket has a lid, and I keep it underneath a table behind two other buckets where I store my grains, and pastas. Not only is it hard to get to, but it is out of sight. And you know what they say, “Out of sight, out of mind.” It works…just try it. Or…don’t buy them at all. Also a great strategy. 🙂
3. Avoid buying packaged foods:
Sticking to the outer areas of your local grocery store is some of the best advice you can follow. Fresh produce, organic dairy & eggs, whole grains, and good quality meats should be your diet staples. However, if you must buy something packaged read the labels making sure you recognize the ingredients.
If you don’t it’s not real food…and it’s not good for you, plain and simple. And those “not real” foods, just make your crave more not real, sugary food. Blah.
4. Start Small :
When that afternoon craving for something sweet hits try something more naturally sweet, like a cup of fresh berries, or pineapple topped with nuts for satiating protein and fat, or a couple small pieces of dried fruit such as apricots, dates, or figs.
And if you must have chocolate, choose dark, over 70% cacao chocolate, and have a small piece. These are quality, nutritious foods that are sweet, but actually good for you.
Over time your sweet tooth will change, and when you do decide to indulge on that piece of chocolate layer cake at your Dad’s birthday party, you will have a realization that you’ve changed, and you may not be able to even finish it. A “kicking sugar in the butt” victory!
5. Create some healthy “treat” recipes you can enjoy mindfully:
As I mentioned above, make indulging in a sugar craving something that you mindfully “choose” to do. And when you choose to indulge your craving, make something from scratch with ingredients that you recognize and that are good for you.
What is your favorite dessert? Create a healthier version.
I love peanut butter cups. Actually anything with peanut butter and chocolate. If that is what I want I’ll: melt down some dark chocolate pour a layer into a mini muffin cup, top with a tsp of natural peanut butter and freeze. Once frozen I’ll add the top layer of chocolate and freeze again. Healthy, and delicious.
I also enjoy a creamy cup of hot chocolate on these cold winter nights, but have you ever looked at the ingredients in the packaged stuff…what in the world? However it’s easy to make a healthy version from scratch: Take 12oz of almond milk and heat over med heat in a pan. Whisk in 1.5 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, and heat until steaming. Pour in a mug and add 3-6 drops vanilla stevia and stir. Creamy, chocolately, heavenly. My hubby even begs me to make this treat.
Or try my homemade Almond Joy Coffee Creamer. Put a half cup of the creamer in your mug and top off with strong coffee, for a healthy and tasty mocha!
Most of all, I want you to remember that every person is different. Your running buddy may be able to kick the sugar habit cold turkey while you’re still left binging on that bag of Dove chocolates. It’s a process. Living a healthy, full life is not something you wake up one morning excelling at. We all have slip ups, and we all have different goals and steps to reach them, one way is not better than another.
So please, don’t compare yourself. Rather learn about you, what makes you crave sugar, and how can you start making real mindful choices about the things that you eat. Tell someone close to you what you’ve decided to do, and ask for accountability, and support. And most of all don’t expect crazy changes right away. The things most worth doing take the most time and the most effort. Consistency is key. And life is meant to be lived, and food meant to fuel us and to be enjoyed.
Well, I think I’m off to make me a mug of healthy hot chocolate, care to join me?
What about you; do you struggle with afternoon sugar cravings? If so, what are your favorite strategies for crushing those cravings? What is your favorite mindfully sweet indulgence?