Working with a lot of people is yet another chance to peek into the human mind and realize how much we are alike. We all think we are the only ones with a certain problem. We are the only ones dealing with it, while actually the road we walk is the same – we just find ourselves at different stages.
One of the things that bothers most women and turns out to be one of the main reasons for them not to be able to stick to their eating plan is their intense carbohydrate cravings.
This is more or less what happens:
Two or three days of flawless eating (at least that’s how we see it). That flawlessness means a lot of salads, a fruit here and there and of course, a solid amount of protein, be it chicken, tuna fish, egg whites, cheese curds or a combination of these. (read about the 7 things every woman should change in her diet)
Everything goes fine, but suddenly the carbohydrate cravings appear. We can’t think of anything else and no matter what we add to our food in order to avoid carbohydrates, the cravings are there and the impulse to eat grows stronger and stronger – until things get out of proportion and we no longer seem to be in control of our conscious choice.
The Reasons Why We Crave Carbohydrates
1.Our diet is dominated by proteins and includes almost no carbohydrates or fats.
Protein is an important part of our diet and a building block for the body, but it is not enough for the body to function well.
The sooner we realize that our hunger, cravings and behavior are the result of the body’s attempt to obtain what it needs and function well, the sooner we will be out of the vicious circle of starvation and overeating.
One cannot overpower one’s instincts. Our primal urges are stronger than us. The urge to eat is among the strongest ones and many of our actions are governed by it.
Out attempts to push that urge to the back of our minds, i.e. to ignore our need for food, do not eliminate it, they merely send it to a remote corner of our consciousness and give it space and time to grow and get stronger. And then it gets its own way regardless – and we feel awful and perceive ourselves as failures.
It is a much better option to achieve a daily balance. Every extreme is counterbalanced by its opposite and the extreme of not eating enough carbohydrates or fat grows into the urge to make up for them later.
Wouldn’t you feel better, if you obtained enough fats and carbohydrates in your diet every day and did not have to go through periods of feeling bloated, feeling a heaviness in your stomach and feeling sick because of the amount of food you ate?
Instead of eating only protein, what if you added some fattier meat or fish; ate whole eggs; added some seasonal fruits to your diet and enjoyed a handful of rice, potatoes, quinoa and all kinds of multicolored vegetables?
Food is not your enemy. It is a gift from nature and allows us to be creative and pay respect to our bodies every day.
2.You work out too intensely and do not eat enough carbohydrates
You know I have plenty of experience of dieting and working out. I have tried all kinds of things and can say from experience what works and what doesn’t.
I love working out and I often push my body to the utmost limit. Afterwards, if I decide to deprive my body of energy and recovery, it gets its own back at me – with these intense carbohydrate cravings.
If you often swim, run, practice another kind of cardio workout or do intense and prolonged workouts in the gym, it means your body needs carbohydrates from rice or sweet potatoes (these are my top 2).
I suggest you plan your meals better on those days. If you fail to plan to include carbohydrates in your meals, don’t worry – your body will make you include them – but then your choice would not be a conscious one and you will not eat the kinds of carbohydrates you want.
I suggest that you observe your body – on a training day include rice or sweet potatoes in one of your meals.
I personally have two options for myself – I either eat these in my post-workout meal or I plan them for the next day.
I know for myself how I feel when I need carbohydrates.
If I swim, I make it a point to eat them in my post-workout meal. And if I have a more intense weight-lifting workout, I either include them in my post-workout meal too or I plan a larger amount for the next day.
I do that, because I like listening to my body and not merely sticking to pre-designed eating plans and I personally have a stronger appetite on non-training days, than on training days. This works for me. Do this test for yourselves (read more here).
3.You either don’t sleep enough or you don’t sleep at the right time
Believe it or not, this is one of the main reasons why you crave carbohydrates. Just think about the last time you were unable to fall asleep until late at night – were you hungrier on the next day? I am sure you were.
In this post (HERE) I wrote about an unexpected reason for carbohydrate cravings in the evenings. Read about it.
One of the most important drivers of our behavior is our circadian rhythm, i.e. the rhythm everything in nature obeys – the approximate 24-hour rhythmicity and cyclicity. Light and dark, sleeping and waking times are signals that tell the body what part of day it is and what processes should be occurring in the body. Lack of sleep “disrupts” your circadian rhythm or in other words your biological clock. Our biological clock is connected to every function in the body.
Quite often carbohydrate cravings are a signal that the body is losing energy or rather that it has lost energy. One of the fastest ways for the body to restore the energy lost is through carbohydrates. That is why your body is pushing you to eat those.
If you overtrain, do not get enough sleep and do not recover well, your body lacks energy and will be sure to demand it in the form of carbohydrates.
These are three of the main reasons for your intense carbohydrate cravings. Think about what you can change in your own life and day-to-day activities and these cravings will disappear. Because at the end of the day, we are a product of our environment and the habits it provokes.
I’d be glad to hear how you are doing and if this post helped you discover something more about yourselves, and I’d be happy if you shared it with your friends – you might push someone to become motivated and change their life.