“Cravings” is far and away the most common challenge when people change their diet and try to eat healthier. They’re definitely my biggest obstacle, rearing their head any time I’m sick, stressed out, or hormonal, threatening to undo all the good I’ve done with their tempting clouds of sugar, chocolate, and cream. But most of the time, it’s just not worth it. Here’s what to do when you have cravings and find yourself similarly tempted to give in.
Purge the Pantry
This doesn’t have to mean “throw away everything you can’t eat anymore”. If it’s non-perishable and unopened, donate it to charity. Friends and family may appreciate the rest. Don’t feel guilty giving away “unhealthy” food: A lot of people can eat this stuff without consequences, were going to spend money on it anyway, and/or literally don’t have anything else to eat. Put it to good use before putting it in the trash!
Have Family Members Keep Their Food Elsewhere
Maybe you can’t get rid of everything that’s not AIP-friendly. Your partner still wants to make sandwiches for lunch. Your kids won’t eat anything without ketchup on it. You might want your entire household to eat healthier, but if they aren’t interested and don’t need a special diet, expecting them to follow the AIP with you can be unrealistic. Maybe your spouse can keep his/her lunch fixings in the refrigerator at work. Maybe that food can be squirreled away in a cupboard you wouldn’t think to check at home. I know, hiding stuff doesn’t seem like the most mature solution, but “out of sight, out of mind” actually works. That loaf of bread or bag of chips is a lot less tempting if you don’t see it every time you open the pantry.
Keep AIP-Friendly Food (and Treats) on Hand
Your kid’s having a birthday party. Your partner is enjoying a leftover slice of pizza they brought home from work. Your coworker brought in bagels. You’ve been invited to a wedding. Temptation can happen anywhere, at any time, and for a lot of reasons. You can’t always avoid these situations, so keep something safe on hand that you can reach for in times like these. Bananas, grapes, and oranges may help satisfy that sugar craving while a bit of bacon may sub in for chips. Healthy fats like coconut, nutrient-dense meats, and plenty of water are particularly good at combating and preventing cravings, but it’s okay to keep treats like AIP-friendly slices of cake in the freezer, too.
Practice Positive Affirmations
Temptation is normal. It’s human and nobody is above it. It’s okay to feel it. Remind yourself that your life is better without that tempting food. You’ve avoided temptation before and you can do it again. You are strong. You are worthy of better health. And if you do happen to cave, it’s okay. It happens. Forgive yourself and turn it into a positive by analyzing what made you cave and what you can do to avoid that situation in the future. Every setback is an opportunity to learn something new.
Manage Your Stress and Sleep Quality
We all know that feeling stressed out can result in poor dietary choices, but a night of poor sleep can also increase sugar cravings. (It will also lower your tolerance for stressful situations, compounding that problem, too.) For the stressful situations you can’t avoid, try meditation, positive affirmations and acknowledging that some situations are beyond your control. Gentle exercise and humor will help, too. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Avoid bright lights and big meals after sunset and get plenty of sunlight and movement in the early mornings. Make sure your bedroom is pitch black, cool, and just for sleeping in. If you have a habit of watching Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead in bed, your brain will start to associate bedtime with high drama and bloody massacres. Needless to say, that’s not conducive to a good night’s sleep!
Find a Supportive Community
If you’re still struggling, especially if you aren’t getting any support at home, having an online community to go through the experience with can make a world of difference. There are a lot of AIP-friendly Facebook groups these days and my newsletter has thousands of subscribers going through the exact same things we are. You’re not alone!
Keep a Health Journal to Hold Yourself Accountable
A health journal is a detailed account of what you’re eating and how you feel throughout the day. There are some dots you’d never connect if they weren’t written down right in front of you and keeping a log forces you to be honest with yourself about your progress. When I started the AIP, I created a thorough, printer-friendly journal template to help me out, which is now available as The Ultimate Health Journal. It’s a daily reminder for me to try my best or to at least do better than the day before. If the idea interests you, you can find more information on the sort of information to track and types of symptoms to look out for inside.