So I think we are all agreed that eating the low-carbohydrate way is the best diet for health and wellbeing if you have diabetes (type 1 or type 2)..?
Inevitably, however, there will be times when the dreaded carb cravings strike. And as we have Christmas ahead of us, there will certainly be temptations a-plenty calling our name.
It is very easy to over-eat carbohydrates. They don’t have the same satiating effects that protein has on the body, and the soaring blood sugars you get afterwards are horrible (and it can take a long time to get them under control again).
So, general advice given to beat cravings often mentions general avoidance tactics such as going for a walk, or phoning a friend. That’s the kind of advice, I suspect, written by people who don’t suffer from cravings. If you get them, you’ll know they can be very, very powerful indeed.
The first thing to do is to work out your trigger foods* – bread, crisps, chocolate or perhaps all three – and don’t keep them in your house, if possible. Cravings often strike in the evening (will power fatigue has set in) so having to go out of the house to buy your temptation of choice adds obstacles to the path.
It might be tricky if your partner eats/buys these foods, but you could compromise by not having them in the house at certain times. Your willpower is probably stronger at certain times of the week (say Monday to Thursday), so if the trigger items are in your house then, hopefully you won’t find them so tempting.
Secondly, practice putting off. Again, cravings are very powerful so the best tactic is to think in the moment. When a craving strikes, you make a bargain to not do anything about it for ten minutes. If it is still there after ten minutes, then you “give in” to it. Over time, you try to extend the time from ten to 15 to 20 minutes.
Avoiding Full-on Binges
When you do give into a craving, try if possible to only eat the food you were craving – say lots of buttered toast OR chocolate, rather than turning it into a full-on binge. Again, this can be difficult once you have started, but one trick is to sit down with your food and eat is slowly – rather than standing at the fridge door, shovelling in.
Another tip is to learn low-carb baking (and we have lots of examples of this in the Diabetes Diet book) so you avoid that feeling of missing out. Low-carb bread, cake and cookie recipes can help.
Three good-sized meals a day with plenty of protein help as well if you tend to binge, as they keep you from being hungry, they provide you with nutritious food and the low-carb diet helps to keep blood sugars steady. See-sawing blood sugar levels leave you tired and grumpy – states of mind which provide the perfect breeding ground for cravings.
On a personal basis, I find that if I keep my diet pretty high-fat (65 per cent fat, 20-25 percent protein and the remainder in carbs), that keeps cravings at a minimum. It is a combination of nutritious foods combined with a feeling that I’m not missing out because I’m eating lovely food such as cheese, mayonnaise, butter and nuts.
If you have a trick you use to keep carb cravings at bay, we’d love to hear it! Please let us know in the comments.
*What’s a trigger food? If you are prone to bingeing, there are often foods that are more likely to trigger this than others. They are usually hyper palatable foods, i.e. foods which have lots of sugar or salt in them (or both!), or are combinations of fat and sugar. Trigger foods tend to be crisps, bread (particularly topped with butter), ice-cream, cakes and sweets.