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Conquer Your Carb Cravings – 14 Ways to Beat Temptation

By: Lauriana Hayward
Source: LowCarb Living Jan/Feb 2005

Conquer Your Carb Cravings – 14 Ways to Beat Temptation

Fighting temptation is probably the hardest part of any diet.  Where cravings are concerned, the best defense is a good offense-eating a balance of protein, fat and fiber throughout the day will stave off hunger and prevent blood sugar from dipping too low.  “For most people, the cravings go away after two months,” says Fran McCullough, author of The Good Fat Cookbook and Living Low-Carb. “But sometimes they return, and they can really knock you for a loop.”

Chances are, no matter how strong a dieter’s resolve, sooner or later a craving will rear its ugly head.  But even the strongest urge for a forbidden food doesn’t warrant abandoning your low-carb lifestyle.  “You should diet as if your life depended on it,” says Fred Pescatore, M.D., author of The Hamptons Diet. “If you make it as important as anything else in your life, then you can’t fail.”

Here, low-carb experts and successful dieters share their tips to fend off cravings and stay on the path to weight loss and better health.

1. Supplement your craving – When you’re deficient in magnesium, you’re going to crave chocolate and other sweets.  In addition to magnesium, deficiencies of zinc and chromium may contribute to food cravings, too. If you find yourself craving carbohydrates, you may be deficient in zinc. Sugar cravings may indicate a chromium deficiency.

2. Brush your teeth – For a “huge food turnoff,” try toothpaste or Listerine strips, says McCullough, whose lost 60 pounds herself on a low-carb diet: “It numbs your mouth and makes you not want to eat.” Chewing gum can have the same effect, just in case you’re someplace where you can’t brush your teeth.

3. Take a walk – You won’t crave carbs nearly as much when you’re not standing in the kitchen. “If you’re at the office, do five jumping jacks, or walk up and down the stairs a few times,” says Pescatore. “anything so you’re not just sitting there feeling hungry.” Maintain an active social life, but try to avoid activities that revolve around food, especially at the beginning.

4. Do something engaging or interactive – Find an activity that gets your mind off food, whether it’s a round of computer solitaire, helping the kids with their homework, or a household chore. “For some reason, I never get hungry when I’m cleaning,” says low-carb dieter Leigh Ann Stewart, a 26-year old nanny from Owen Sound, Ontario. “Afterward, I find I no longer feel like snacking.”

5. Throw out your “fat” clothes – Stewart suggests, “Get rid of all the clothes that are too big.  By doing that, you say to yourself, ‘I can never go back to that size again.'”

6. Out of sight, out of mind – “I keep junk food out of the house,” says Stewart. “If it’s not there, I can’t have it.” Avoid situations that trigger cravings. If there’s a box of doughnuts every morning on the conference room table at work, don’t even go in.

7. Choose a healthy alternative – Try eating an acceptable food to fight your urge for an unhealthy one. “Practice defensive eating,” Pescatore says. Always keep healthy snacks on hand-foods such as hard boiled eggs, string cheese, sliced meat, celery with cream cheese, and low-carb nuts.

8. Remind yourself of your goals – Write down your health and fitness goals and read them whenever you feel the urge to stray. “Think of the bigger picture. What do you want to look like? How much weight do you want to lose?” says Pescatore. “If you want to be successful, snacking isn’t going to get you there.”

9. Keep your favorite reading materials handy – Stewart totes around her copy of Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution to reinforce her low-carb belief system. “Whenever I have free time at work, I read a few pages,” she says.

10. Call a like-minded friend – “A diet buddy is a great idea,” McCullough says. Pairing up with a friend can motivate you and pull you through times of temptation. And because low-carb diets have become so popular, it should be easy to find a supportive match. “Chances are, somebody you know is doing this,” she says.

11. Reward yourself – Many of us turn to food for emotional support-but it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of heading for the cookie jar, try taking a bubble bath, visiting a day spa, reading a fun novel, or going to a movie. For added health benefits, dance to your favorite record, go shopping, or take a yoga class.

12. Have a low-carb version – “There are delicious, sweet products now available that will satisfy you,” says Bowden. Grocery stores nationwide offer low-carb yogurt, chocolate milk, ice cream, and candy bars all made with artificial sugar. However McCullough warns, “it isn’t a good idea to overindulge-sometimes you keep the sugar craving going.”

13. Drink two full glasses of water – Because food cravings are often thirst in disguise, you may find your hunger for carbs has vanished after you drink a couple tall glasses of water. “Adding some fiber into the glass is another good option,” says Jonny Bowden, author of Living the Low Carb Life. The fiber helps fill you up and slows digestion.

14. Give in (occasionally) – “I give in once or twice a week so the cravings won’t get worse,” says low-carb dieter Richard Stark, a 67 year-old retired social worker from Commack, New York. It hasn’t stopped his weight loss, he’s just losing at a slower rate and that’s OK. “People fail because they feel deprived,” he says. “I think if you cheat once in a while, you’ll keep yourself from going crazy.”

Through determination, willpower, and some trial and error, you’ll soon discover your own best ways to fight cravings and reinforce your healthy new lifestyle.