Don’t let your monthly cravings overpower your willpower. In the following Q&A, Marla Ahlgrimm offers advice on how to beat cravings and keep yourself on track, even when your hormones want you to jump headfirst off the health train.
Q: Is it possible to indulge in sweet or salty snacks without hurting my diet?
Marla Ahlgrimm: It’s not only possible, but may be better for you in the long run. The key is to enjoy a small portion of your favorite treat after you’ve had a healthy snack. Don’t give up what you love, but learn to consume it in moderation. If chocolate is your weakness, go for a fun-size bar instead of a full-size treat.
Q: Should I keep a stash of snacks for “emergencies?”
Marla Ahlgrimm: I would suggest only buying the “bad” foods when you are going to eat them. If they are not in the house, you’re going to have to work for it and just might find that you don’t want it bad enough to put forth the extra effort. You can, however, keep a variety of sugar-free gums, which might satisfy your sweet tooth without the calories or crash.
Q: How long should I wait before giving in to a craving?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Food cravings – even the strongest ones – usually pass within half an hour. Distract yourself with exercise, chores, or by calling a friend. The craving should pass once you redirect your attention to something else. If you’re cravings hit when you are legitimately hungry, try eating an apple or some other fresh fruit before reaching for the chips.
Q: How does sleep play a role in monthly food cravings?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Ghrelin, a hormone that can trigger overeating, is found in higher levels in people who do not get enough sleep. A full eight hours each night can lower your levels, which will make it easier to walk away from the snacks you are trying to avoid.