Q:Is there a formula/regimen I can follow for a period of time to change my taste buds? I fell off the wagon and started consuming many more sweets than I've wanted. I don't know what triggered it, but now I can't seem to stop. Before this trigger, I could barely eat two bites of a brownie before I would think it was too sweet. Not so, right now. Are there some foods I could purposely eat that would change my taste buds so that I'm not craving these sweets as much?
Cravings for sweets have many root causes. Some are chemical. Others are psychological. Most are a combination of both. No matter why you fell off the wagon, in the first place, the solution is the same.
Eating whole foods in their pure, natural form is the ideal way to get rid of cravings, but that is just speaking physiologically. In a perfect world, you could stop eating sweets cold turkey and rid yourself of physiological food cravings. The result would potentially be headaches, weakness, and a general sense of discomfort for about 1-2 weeks. After that, the cravings would subside, and you would feel much better. The vast majority of people cannot and don’t really want to go through that, so let’s examine some reasoning and strategies for how to make small changes to decrease cravings.
Since this service is about teaching you both what to do AND how to do it, Im going to take a realistic approach. You said that you had a period of time when you did not crave sweets, so I will assume that nothing has changed psychologically in your life. If you are under new stress or are experiencing anxiety that you did not before, you must also deal with those issues in your life before you can fully take the physiological steps to eliminate cravings.
When you eat processed, high sugar foods, the level of feel good chemicals in your body surge. Blood sugar, serotonin, and dopamine are 3 of the major ones. When you eat whole, non-processed carbohydrates like fruits, your body does the same thing but on a much smaller scale. You will still have an increase an blood sugar, serotonin, and dopamine when you eat, for example, an apple, but you wont get such an immediate and intense reaction. That is where the compulsion or chemically-based addiction to those foods can come from. By gradually weaning your body from the high-sugar foods and onto more whole foods, you adjust in a way that is manageable.
You all know that I do not teach deprivation, but for the purpose of answering this question, I am discussing the steps for how to decrease the presence of these foods in your body. If you choose to do this, know that life is really about balance. There is a place in life for having treats always without guilt or shame. You just need to know how to look at them objectively and balance them nutritionally so they have less impact on your weight and subsequent cravings.
Here are the steps to decrease/eliminate cravings:
- Start with breakfast. Make the entire meal of whole foods.
- Continue this process for an entire week without worrying about any other meals. Just focus on the ONE goal of making breakfast all whole foods. Whole foods refer to things in their original state (whole fruit v/s canned, eggs, lean meats, vegetables).
- Repeat this process with both daily snacks, lunch, and dinner as well, taking at least one week to fully address each. This process should take about 6 weeks to complete. I know it sounds like a long time, but the result is worth the wait.
- LAST, tackle your vulnerable times. If you have times during the day that you tend to struggle (typically 3:00-5:00 in the afternoon or after dinner/late at night), try to be proactive about them. Have a snack every day, 30 minutes before the craving typically hits with a good serving of protein. Think chicken or sliced deli meat over choices like peanut butter. Nut butters are protein, but they contain sugar and salt which can trigger more cravings. Nut butters are great to have for occasional protein, but they may not be the best thing to help combat a craving during a vunerable time. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL YOU GET HUNGRY…IT MIGHT BE TOO LATE.
- If your cravings are late at night, examine how your circumstances might have changed. Are you staying up later than normal to watch a new show on TV? Are you working on your laptop in the kitchen at night when you used to do it in your bedroom? Are you staying out late with friends and coming home late and hungry? Are you eating out with friends more often and falling into social eating patterns? Are you consuming more alcohol than usual? Alcohol can cause increased cravings for sweets and other carbohydrates, often for days after it is consumed.
- Examine your craving patterns after eating certain foods. Some people even experience cravings after eating high sugar fruits. Making sure to have protein every time you eat can decrease this likelihood.
Eating whole foods is certainly the most physiologically effective way to deal with carbohydrate cravings. Combining that with a careful behavioral strategy is the best way to break a craving pattern.