Hacks are a crutch.
They keep you functional while you heal.
Once your body is healed, they can be ditched, or they’ll keep holding you back.
The hacks below can be extremely powerful, and if you put at least some of them into practice, they can mean the difference between successfully ditching refined carbohydrate and slipping back into old ways.
I guess you already know about the incredible benefits that come from a healthy, natural diet, and about how much processed carbohydrate and sugar will hold you back, let’s look at the easiest ways to help us overcome the cravings that often plague us when making this change.
1. Carry a Cravings Journal
This is one of the most effective, but also one of the most risky hacks we can use to deal with cravings.
Carry a small notepad around with you wherever you go, and every time you get a craving, write down what you’re craving.
Look down at the list, and promise yourself that you’re going to eat all of it on your designated cheat day.
You’ll be amazed at how well this works. Some people find it’s almost as if the craving falls out of their head and onto the paper. In the store, you’ll walk right past things you would have been unable to resist yesterday. You’ll discover that you’re not a slave to your impulses, that you can choose to resist anything if you want.
So why is it dangerous?
Carb cravings can be incredibly strong, and can take total avoidance to get rid of completely. Imagine someone trying to quit smoking, but who smokes every Saturday? It would be a very repetitive cravings journal, that’s for sure, but worse than that would keep the addiction alive.
This is why, if you opt to use a cravings journal, be sure you eventually increase the time between cheat days (1 week, to 10 days, to a fortnight, to once a month, etc), until you don’t need them any more.
2. Get Temptation Out Of Sight
When you’re making a big change, why make things difficult for yourself? Use everything at your disposal to get the advantage.
This means taking foods that will lead you astray out of your cupboards, and out of the house. If you choose to use a cheat day at first, go out for your weekly or fortnightly binge, or at least make sure you don’t have any leftovers for the next day. The house needs to be clear of the stuff that will pull on your willpower, or you’re going to be fighting a much harder battle.
3. Stevia To The Rescue
Can’t handle the lack of sweetness? Can’t stand fruit? Don’t reach for the cookie just yet!
Stevia is a herbaceous plant native to tropical regions of North and South America with a very interesting property.
Its leaves contain compounds that, when isolated, are far sweeter than the same weight in sugar, despite containing no carbohydrate at all. It’s available in powdered form, and can directly replace the contents of your sugar bowl.
Carb-conscious people with a sweet tooth often use stevia to make their coffee just the way they like it without spiking their blood sugar.
A word of caution: keeping ultra-sweet tastes in your daily experience can make sugar cravings linger. If you couldn’t imagine a life without sweetness, don’t worry. Many people find that when they remove artificial hyper-sweetness from their daily lives, the rest of the food on their plate starts to come alive. You may start detecting sweetness in foods you didn’t expect, and in much more interesting ways than a straight bombardment of glucose.
4. Get Social
One of the most powerful behavioral pressures we can put on ourselves is social pressure. None of us are above the influence of others, and many of us find one of the hardest things about a lifestyle change is that our friends either don’t change with us, or sometimes even encourage us to slip back. It can feel horrible to disappoint them.
Why not use this to your advantage?
All you need is one close friend to be on your side. Pull him or her to one side, and go through what you’re planning to do. Make them promise to hold you to it, to judge you for slipping, and to encourage you when you’re doing well. Ask if it’s okay if you call or text them when you’re feeling the tractor beam of a tempting treat. Most people are very flattered to be picked for such an important role – to help you change your life for the better!
5. Get Educated
The negative aspects of refined carbohydrates are very real. There is great reason to be doing what you’re doing (or considering to do). A powerful way to bolster your resilience is to constantly refresh your memory about the facts behind your decision.
Read up on why we crave things in the first place, and how craving is different from hunger. Remind yourself about the toxins that you’ll be avoiding, and listen to testimonials about how it feels to have a body working on an optimised diet.
Once you feel the benefits in energy levels and physique, and the cravings subside, your reasons will be clear every second of every day. Until then, however, moment to moment urges can push reason to one side. Keep bringing it to the forefront. Keep educated on the evils of processed sugars.
6. Use Replacement Snacks
If clearing your house of the bad stuff seems to leave a void that you just can’t bare, fill it with better stuff that only imitates the bad.
If you love brownies and aren’t ready to cut down on them quite yet, there are wonderful replacements that will provide your body with healthy protein and provide your taste buds with a sugary taste without any of the actual sugar.
There are whole-food solutions as well. Nuts are a tasty alternative that give you something to chew on while providing healthy fats. Fruit is a sweet alternative, and if you find yourself snacking non-stop, try chewing gum. Anything that you can reach for to keep yourself chewing can get you through a difficult patch.
7. Nourish Yourself
This is the one hack that can be long-term.
Cravings are worsened by a poor diet. If you’re deficient in certain nutrients, your body will push you to eat more stuff in the hope that you will hunt a bison or forage a bag of vegetables. Little does it understand your modern environment, where it’s much more easy to pick up a nutritionally barren consumable product instead.
Keeping fat on your plate is important. It’s more satiating than either protein or carbohydrates, the two other sources of calories. Since you’re cutting down your carb consumption, you need to be sure your body has something else to easily use for all its crucial functions.
Keep the fats healthy, and you’ll be boosting your body with many essential fat-soluble vitamins, too.
Perhaps consider getting blood work done at your local clinic to see if there are any hidden nutritional deficiencies that you should be supplementing, but as a general rule, eat plenty of vegetables, meats, and healthy fats. Making sure you’re full of nourishing, satisfying food will keep you certain that any urges you feel are not out of malnourishment or genuine hunger, but are rather empty cravings that will pass in time.
Don’t play down your difficulty giving up sugar. It’s not weakness. In some, the addiction is as real as that of nicotine. For others, it’s such a strong change from their usual eating habits, and the usual eating habits of their friends and family, that complex psychological and social frictions can crop up and make it all much harder.
But you’re not alone, and you’re not helpless.
We have to use our sober, untempted minds to make decisions that set us up for success in future moments of difficulty. All these hacks are things you can use to get leverage on yourself, reduce resistance, and make success much more likely. They are tools at our disposal, if we should need them.
Do you know any tips to beating carb cravings that you think this list should have? Share your insights with us in the comments!