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Dr. Ian Smith talks new book, ‘Mind Over Weight,’ how to beat food cravings, craving substitutions

Dr. Ian Smith, bestselling author and television personality joined us this morning to discuss his new book, Mind Over Weight, and nine things you can do right now to outlast your cravings.

Eat Mindfully  

Appreciate your food. Pay attention to the effects particular foods have on your feelings and body. Engage as many of your senses as possible by noticing colors, sounds, textures, smells, and tastes.  Eat with the intention of maintaining or improving your overall health.

Stay Hydrated

thirst is often confused with hunger or food cravings. Next time a craving hits, try drinking 8 to 12 ounces of water and see if the craving diminishes or goes away.

Control Your Environment

Make it as difficult for yourself as possible to access the forbidden foods and drinks. Don’t bring into your house those items that you are not supposed to eat.  Have a conversation with those you live with, about how important it is for you not to be around that particular food or drink and ask that they help out by agreeing that it’s alright not to have it in the house.

When you’re at work, stay away from the trouble spots in the break room/kitchen, or avoid walking by the vending machines.

Eat Protein

 When blood sugars rise quickly, then fall, this makes you vulnerable to cravings.  Protein’s role in balancing blood sugar levels is critical to holding off cravings. It takes the body more time to digest protein than carbohydrates, and protein’s lower glycemic index means it causes a much slower rise of blood sugar levels than carbs, which reduces cravings.

Reduce Stress

Taking a walk, talking to a friend, getting some exercise, other stress relievers like listening to a favorite song or even watching a funny video or playing with your pet can redirect your attention and get it off the craving.

Get Some Sleep

A University of Chicago found that the otherwise healthy participants who were sleep deprived were unable to resist snacks like cookies, candy, and chips, despite the fact that just two hours prior, they had eaten a full meal.  Adequate sleep is crucial to resisting and overcoming cravings.

Pour Some Tea

the simple, calming, step-by-step process of brewing your own tea can be an effective strategy to outlasting cravings without giving in to them.  Adding spices like cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric can be effective at helping balance blood sugar levels, which also helps fight off cravings.

Don’t Skip Meals

Skipping meals can result in deep hunger, a danger for those trying to stick to a weight loss plan.  The likelihood of developing cravings will increase, and you are vulnerable to grabbing and

eating anything that will help satisfy the hunger. Smart snacking on foods rich in protein and fiber keeps blood sugar levels stable and prevents intense hunger from developing.

Fill up on Chromium

Chromium is an essential trace element that can enhance the effect of insulin and help lower blood glucose levels, causing them to remain stable. While chromium is available in supplements, you can get all you need naturally from foods. Vegetables such as green beans, broccoli, and potatoes, as well as beef and poultry, milk and dairy products, whole grains like oats, and fruits like apples and bananas.

CRAVING: Sugar/Sweet

SUBSTITUTION:

Fruit (mangoes, pineapple, grapes, berries)
Dark chocolate (contains more than 70% cocoa)
Sugar-free chewing gum or mints
Sweet potatoes
Raw broccoli and hummus
Dates
Raw carrots
Frozen chocolate bananas
All-fruit ice pop (puree your favorite fruit with lime juice, put a stick in it, and freeze)
Baked apple (stuffed with nuts or oats)
Hot chocolate (limit the amount of chocolate syrup)

CRAVING:  Salty

SUBSTITUTION:

Sea salt crackers and nut butter
Diced watermelon with crumbled feta cheese and balsamic vinegar
Low-fat mozzarella cheese sticks and olives
Dill pickles
Edamame with a light sprinkle of sea salt
Tomatoes with crumbled feta cheese and olive oil
Sesame seaweed snacks

Turkey jerky

 ACTION PLAN 

1. List your most common cravings

2. List the most common circumstances and/or times you seem to get your cravings.

3. Decide on 3 strategies you will try at first to crush your cravings.

4. Keep the unhealthy foods you crave out of your house and out of reach.

5. Spend an entire week eating every meal mindfully.

6. For an entire week, keep a craving journal. Make sure you record the food craved, the time, the circumstances surrounding the craving, and how long it lasted. 

7. Stock your kitchen and workplace with cravings swaps.

Immune-boosting foods

Garlic:

Garlic has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. It’s rich in antioxidants that quench free radicals that play a role in Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, cancers, and other conditions. The antiviral properties may be helpful in reducing the severity of colds, flu or COVID-19 infections.

Ginger:

Antioxidant compounds in ginger root have potent anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.   Antioxidants also quench free radicals and help guard against arthritis, cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, and may other conditions.

Turmeric:

Reduces Inflammation – Curcumin, the main active ingredient in cumin, suppresses various inflammatory molecules which can be caused by viruses. It also exhibits antiviral properties by reducing the replication of the virus, which reduces the viral load.

Spinach:

The high content of folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, and iron, which boost immune function and provide the body with necessary nutrients for cell division and DNA repair

Almonds:

vitamin E, found in almonds, is another antioxidant that has been shown to support the immune system in addition to helping slow down the aging process. It acts as a “big brother” to other vitamins, protecting them from oxidation and, thus, allowing them to do their work

Broccoli:

One cup of broccoli provides as much vitamin C as an orange. Also high in beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. Broccoli supplies an array of B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, and B6), which help the immune system to run in top form.

Mushrooms:

Mushrooms are high in selenium and B vitamins like riboflavin and niacin. These minerals and vitamins are necessary for the immune system to work in tip top form. Mushrooms are also high in polysaccharides, sugar-like molecules that boost immune function.

Low-fat yogurt:

It provides 11 grams of protein and almost 400 mg of calcium per 8-ounce serving. Also provides vitamin B12, vitamin D, and vitamin B2 (riboflavin), which are necessary for robust immune function.

Probiotics in yogurt, including Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, and Bifidus, boost immune function by providing beneficial gut flora, and may even help reduce both the length and severity of colds. 

Green and Black tea:

Antioxidants in tea called polyphenols and flavonoids are credited with boosting immune function. Green tea favorably affects blood lipids, increasing good HDL cholesterol and decreasing LDL bad cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol.

Sweet potatoes:

One medium sweet potato packs a whopping 120% of the daily value of vitamin A and 30% of the daily value of vitamin C, all for just 100 calories. These vitamins are crucial for immune function and great for your skin.

Pomegranate juice:

Pomegranate extracts have antiviral properties against the flu, herpes, and other viruses. In addition to fighting bad viruses and bacteria, there is evidence that pomegranate extracts promote the growth of beneficial gut flora that boosts the immune system including Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.

Examples of sweet cravings:

  • Cookies
  • Candy bars
  • Slice of cake

Substitutions for sweet cravings:

  • Dark Chocolate
  • Dates  
  • Mixed Berries 
  • Sugar-free chewing gum or mints

Examples of salty cravings:

  • Potato chips
  • Pretzels
  • Salted nuts
  • French fries

Substitutions for Salty cravings:

  • Sea salt crackers and nut butter
  • Diced watermelon with crumbled feta cheese and balsamic vinegar
  • Low-fat mozzarella cheese sticks and olives
  • Dill pickles

Examples of Savory cravings:

  • Pizza
  • Chicken Fingers w/dipping sauce (like creamy salad dressing)
  • Nachos w/cheese (or fully loaded)
  • Cheese (something creamy like brie)

Substitutions for Savory cravings:

  • Edamame
  • String cheese
  • guacamole w/raw veggies for dipping
  • celery sticks w/nut butter

Dr. Ian’s latest book is available on Amazon and wherever you buy books. Find more from him at doctoriansmith.com and on Instagram: @doctoriansmith  and Twitter: @DrIanSmith.

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