We have all been there. You crave something and go in search for it. A lot of times it is the “sweet tooth” directing the cravings and the search. It could be after a meal or mid afternoon snack time or even late at night.
Over the years of practice and experience from my clients I have narrowed the “win” over the cravings in just 3 simple strategies. Depending on when and where you can choose what fits best.
- Chewing Gum/Mint: Simply popping one in your mouth after lunch or dinner will change the feeling in your mouth and take your mind off the sweet tooth. Especially after a spicy (Thai/Indian) meal, cool water followed by a mint works wonders. If you happen to be in a restaurant, and the dessert menu appears, it gives you some time to think about it. Don’t even open that menu! Stock up on your favorite flavor of the gum or mints. Keep one in every purse and at your desk.
- Water: Drink plenty of water all day long. Especially after a meal to change the taste in your mouth. It also helps clean some leftover food particles from your teeth and gums. Cold water helps to calm your palate after hot, spicy foods. Warm water (plain or flavored with lemon, lime or herbal tea) is a great between meals to quench the snack desire. Go ahead put on that kettle and make yourself some calming tea!
- Brush your teeth after every meal. Want to reduce the urge to eat something more? Brushing immediately after a meal has the same effect of eating a mint but lasts longer. The fresh, clean feel in your mouth will help you keep the sweet craving at bay. If carrying a toothbrush and paste around is not an option, think of the little finger brushes and travel size toothpaste you can tuck away. It also gives you an excuse to walk away from the table and keep some distance between you and the food.
Pick the strategy that works best for the occasion, place and your liking. The most important part is “self control” and these are just the tools to help along. Once you exercise the control, you will feel empowered and likely do it again. You can win over the cravings.
Besides Valentine’s Day, February also remind of other matters of heart. February is also American Heart Month. It is a great time to remind us of the resolutions we may have set last month or commit to a heart healthy lifestyle beginning now.
About 1 in every 4 deaths in the US is caused by heart disease and it is the leading cause of death for men and women according to the Centers for Disease Control. The American Heart Association has created a movement, Healthy for Good, to inspire lasting change in your life. The key is to do it one step at a time, slow and steady.
Here are some simple steps to consider.
- Eat a rainbow of colors. You have heard this before. The more colors on your plate the more nutritious your meal. Most colorful foods are fruits and vegetables. By making at least half your plate full of colorful fruits and vegetables you are not only increasing your antioxidant intake but also making the meal appealing to your sense of sight. Deep and dark colors, such as dark leafy greens, beets, tomatoes, asparagus, carrots, oranges, berries are the nutritious bunch.
- Make educated choices. Learn about good sources of energy, protein, good fat, vitamins and minerals. Whole grains, lean protein (skinless poultry, fish, beans and nuts), unsaturated fats (olive oil, peanut oil, avocados), fruits and vegetables are still the foundation of a heart healthy diet. Learn some basic skills of cooking. Read labels. Even when you eat out ask for the nutritional information of meals. Make the best choice you can.
- Be mindful. Slow down. Breath. Sit down to eat your meals. Eat meals away from your desk. Focus on the mealtime and don’t multitask. Being mindful of the sight, smell, texture and taste of your meal will make it more satisfying. Enjoy every bite!
- Move, move and move. Move until you can’t! Well, almost. Make a plan to intentionally engage in some exercise every day. There are guidelines of making it at least 150 minutes a week but don’t stress over it. Just get started! Even if it is starting to walk the dog. You can split the daily exercise into multiple times. You don’t have to do it all at once. Just do it!
- Enjoy life. While eating better, moving more, learning a new skill and being more mindful don’t forget to enjoy life! What do you love to do? What is your favorite way to spend time with family, with yourself? Make time for the joyful moments in your life. Your personal relationships give far more contentment than reaching any other goal (weight loss, running a marathon, climbing mountains, earning a large salary etc.). Spend time with your loved ones and enjoy life! Your heart will thank you.
Can’t believe it is February already! And the Super Bowl is almost here. No matter which teams are playing the game; most folks have a SuperBowl event planned. You know the deal: pizza, beer, nachos, seven-layer dip, chips, loaded potato skins etc. etc.
Well, my family is no different in that we always participate in the SuperBowl party. It is fun to spend a cold February Sunday with friends. Where we differ is what we offer to bring to the party and what we do before and at the party. My best friend makes incredible homemade Chicago-style pizzas. The very first year I attended a SuperBowl party there I just looked at the pizza and I knew it would not be something I could eat (size & ingredients I usually don’t consume). I do love the party atmosphere.
So here are my tricks to get through the SuperBowl party:
- Eat a small meal or a snack before going to the party. This way my tastebuds don’t take over when I arrive at the party. I can resist the chips and nachos or settle for just a taste.
- Bring a large salad for the crowd. All guests bring something anyway and I always offer to bring a salad. That way I can be sure that I can load my plate with the salad and still have a little room for pizza.
- Drink a glass of water alongside your favorite drink. Whether it is a beer or wine, always accompany it with water. It helps slow down the guzzling and keeps you hydrated. Drink a glass of water for each can of beer or glass of wine.
- Ask for an alternative. Since the host is my best friend, I just ask her for a veggie pizza or even just a cheese pizza. That way I don’t have to eat the ingredients I don;t want to and can still enjoy.
- Leave at Half-Time. I know this may sound weird. Dessert is usually coming out at halftime and if I am getting ready to head out the door, I can avoid it or take a bite and leave before being tempted for more. Most of the times by half-time the result of the game becomes clear and it is late enough that I want to be home to be in bed on time. After all the next day is a workday.
I can always come away as the winner at every SuperBowl knowing that I did not ruin my healthy eating plan. Plus I wake up with no bloating or discomfort the next day. You can be a winner too at this SuperBowl.