As winter approaches, the temptation grows to spend cosy nights in with TV and comfort foods. As inviting as this sounds, if it becomes a regular occurrence, your general wellbeing won’t thank you for it!
Dr Sarah Brewer explained to TLL that our lifestyles today often mean we are burning fewer calories than we consume, causing our energy and mood to downward spiral, and potentially leading to weight issues and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
We share some expert top tips to help you cut the cravings for calorific and sugar-laden comfort foods as the nights draw in.
Avoid the temptation to binge
The cold weather often increases cravings for fatty, sugary foods and refined carbs. This can lead to weight gain and a ‘crash’ after the initial energy rush, causing a vicious cycle. Wellness expert Jacqueline Harvey advises that, instead of giving in to the temptation to binge-eat, particularly during the festive period, you can still allow yourself to indulge by going for smaller portions, or making up for it by eating lighter meals in between.
Opt out of emotional eating
If you’re feeling a bit low, are you more inclined to add extra cheese or take a few more biscuits? “When you get a craving, stop and think, are you really hungry or do you want to eat because you are feeling certain emotions? Recognising the difference is half the battle and if you are eating because you are lonely or angry then think of other ways to change that feeling rather than food, maybe a walk in the park or phoning a friend,” suggests leading nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville.
Stay hydrated to keep calorific cravings at bay
“Not only can drinking plenty of water make you feel more energised and alert, but staying hydrated throughout the day can also help deter you from mindless snacking. Often we can feel hungry, when actually it may be that we are dehydrated. Drinking a glass of water in between meals may help reduce snacking, as it has a mild effect on quietening down our hunger hormone ghrelin,” explains nutritionist and fitness instructor, Cassandra Barns.
Don’t ‘save yourself for later’
If you’re going out for evening dinner, don’t skip lunch thinking that it’ll be helpful in avoiding extra calories. By missing meals, your body thinks there is a shortage of food and will slow down your metabolism, holding on tight to your fat stores and guaranteeing to rev up your appetite so you end up eating more at the meal, warns Dr Glenville.
Start with a soup
Dr Glenville explains, “If you have soup before a meal you are likely to end up eating fewer calories during the meal. The soup gives you the sensation of being fuller because it remains in the stomach for longer, leaving you more satisfied, as well as turning off your appetite by stopping the cells in the stomach producing the ghrelin hormone”.
Stop the salt cravings
Salty food cravings could indicate low sodium levels, usually due to dehydration (often following exercise, illness or drinking alcohol). Sodium helps maintain our body’s water balance and regulate blood pressure, so Cassandra advises, “You can replenish sodium before bed by snacking on small amounts of this mineral in celery and carrots, which should help your craving”.
Instagram your meal
Dr Glenville explains, “Researchers suggest that photographing food just before you eat concentrates the mind to eat healthier foods and less of it, deterring binges”.
Dr Marilyn Glenville is author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar (www.marilynglenville.com)
Jacqueline Harvey is author of Body Cycles (www.jacquelineharvey.co.uk)