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Balance Me: Handling cravings

It’s 3pm, not long since you last had your lunch (a lovingly crafted and healthy dish that you got up early to make), but there’s something wrong. For some reason, you can’t for the life of you stop thinking about those chocolate muffins that a well-intentioned colleague has left out in the office kitchen. They even sent out an email telling everyone to help themselves for goodness sake. How are you meant to resist?!

This, is what’s known as a craving. Sound familiar? Don’t panic. We all get them from time to time. That said, a chocolate muffin or two every day really adds up and can put our well-considered, perfectly balanced approach to eating way out of balance.

Why?

There is no one specific culprit for explaining these cravings – in fact, there are many different reasons behind why you sometimes get that ‘hangry’ urge for something sweet, salty, fatty (and so on). 

Stress is a biggie in this respect. It’s thought that the part of our brain that handles stress and the ‘hunger hormone’ leptin are closely related. It could be as simple as: more stress equals more hunger.

The amount of indulgent foods that we, well, indulge in may well be closely related to cravings too. The theory here is that by eating more refined foods (think fatty fry ups and sugary treats) the more our body expects them. This sort of food wreaks havoc on our blood sugar levels and can send us into a vicious cycle of unhealthy snacking, a blood sugar rise and the inevitable fall... which is of course followed by cravings leaving us back at the start.

The same goes for poor sleep. Not getting your 40 winks of course results in you being more tired and therefore made more vulnerable to reaching for that ‘quick hit’ of energy.

How to combat the cravings

Luckily the ways to fight those cravings are just as plentiful as the causes themselves. This is great news because if you find that one isn’t working, you can switch up and try something else until you find a combo that does.

High-protein dishes are a great place to start. Protein is great for giving us a nice slow and steady release of energy throughout the day. This is the exact opposite way a sugary snack works. Instead of that initial spike of energy (as the sugar hits our bloodstream) which is followed by a dip (as it leaves), we feel fuller for longer. You just have to take one look at our products page to see just how much we believe in the power of protein here at Graham’s. Skyr, our milk (especially the Protein 40 variety), quark and Protein 22 are all testament to that.

B vitamins are also hugely helpful in stopping cravings in their tracks. Found in foods like leafy greens, egg yolks, fish and avocados – B vitamins help your body with a number of its jobs. They can help with brain function and how we handle stress (which as we mentioned can be a trigger for unhealthy eating). Not only that but they even help our bodies become more efficient at absorbing nutrients.

We mentioned fatty foods as a common thing to crave, but did you know there a difference between good and bad fats? There is reason to believe that good fats make for a smart choice. Literally. Omegas, like those found in oily fish are great for brain function and energy. So is coconut oil, animal fat and full fat dairy like whole milk and butter. It’s thought that around 25% of your body’s cholesterol is found in the brain and the organ itself is made up of about 60% fat. So it’s no wonder that brain function is thought to be related to intake of good fats.

Have you got any tips of your own for getting the better of your cravings? Let us know on the usual social channels if so.