Do you ever have a day like this? You way up hungry and all you seem to crave is sugar. You just wish you could indulge in cookies, ice cream, candy, you name it. No matter what you do or what you eat, you just can’t shake the craving? This was how I felt the other day. I couldn’t get the urge for sugar out of my head. Do you wonder why this happens some days where other days you could care less about eating something sweet? I’ll clue you in on a secret I discovered: you actually cause your own sugar cravings! That’s right! The decisions you make with your food and beverage selection can drive the desire for sweets.
When I think about the day directly preceding my sugar craving day, I could see the exact mistakes I made that lead to these strong sugar urges. Eating a diet rich in refined carbohydrates, drinking too little water, or consuming alcohol can all cause a rebound desire for sweets the next day. What did I eat the day before? I had went to a party where I enjoyed a few glasses of wine, some white flour bread, and most likely didn’t drink the amount of water I typically do. The result? I woke up with little energy, a hungry belly, and a urge for sweets that was hard to ignore.
The lesson in all of this isn’t that you have to give up indulging a bit at social events. Instead, you have to plan ahead and recognize when these sweet cravings can pop up so you can successfully combat them. If you know you will be having alcohol, drink plenty of water before and after to make sure your hydration level is at its peak. If you will be consuming refined carbohydrates, such as white pasta or rice, balance the meal with a good source of lean protein and vegetables to help blunt the blood sugar response at the meal. And lastly, be proactive. If you think there’s a chance that a day coming up may start to trigger sweet cravings, stock your pantry and fridge with sweet indulgences that are actually good for you. My favorite options are fresh fruit, cottage cheese sprinkled with cinnamon and vanilla, popcorn topped with cinnamon, and an ounce of dark chocolate (70% cocao or above). Being prepared will keep you ahead of the cravings, helping to prevent them from sidetracking your weight loss efforts.
This past week in my ‘Maximize Your Metabolism’ BootCamp, I was discussing how choosing high volume, low calories foods is one of the easiest ways to lose weight. If you just fill your plate halfway with vegetables at each meal, you will automatically reduce your calorie intake without having to shrink your portions or feel hungry. And while that is easy to say, always fitting in enough vegetables (or enjoying them) can be a bit trickier.
I will fully admit that I was not born a veggie lover. I was a very picky eater as a child, and although I have come a long way, I still struggle with my vegetable intake at times. And since some members of my household can be a bit close-minded when it comes to eating a variety of vegetables (I am not naming names, but there’s only three of us and it’s not Joey), I have to get creative. So what better way to sneak in more vegetables than by transforming a junk food favorite with an equally delicious veggie alternative?
That’s where I came up with the idea for these incredibly easy ‘Summer Squash Fries.’ And when I say these were easy to make, I mean it. They practically make themselves. Just chop, shake, bake, and serve. You will love them- they honestly came out better than I even expected, I had to stop myself before I ate them all and had none left to share! What’s better than a great tasting, low calorie French fry alternative? These healthy French fries will have your whole family excited to eat their veggies 🙂
Yellow Squash & Zucchini Fries
1 large yellow squash
1 large zucchini
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ cup whole grain breadcrumbs, seasoned
1 Tbs Parmesan cheese
1 tsp minced garlic
¼ tsp black pepper
1 large plastic zip-close bag
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the vegetables into ¼ inch thick slivers (the size of a fast food French fry). Pour the breadcrumbs, garlic, pepper, and Parmesan cheese into the plastic bag. Seal close and shake to mix. Add sliced vegetables and oil into bake. Seal closed then shake to coat. Pour vegetable strips onto the parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes or until slightly crispy. Serve warm and enjoy!
If you are like most parents I know, you probably strive to be perfect. Your trying to be the perfect mother, the perfect friend, perfect spouse, etc. And on top of it, you are trying to eat perfectly and be in perfect shape. STOP TRYING TO BE SO FREAKIN’ PERFECT! 🙂 It’s doing more harm than good. This is the #1 mistake I see my clients make when trying to lose weight. If you just relax, except the fact that you can’t do it all and you will never be perfect no matter how much you try, you will feel so much better! Trust me- I am farrrrrrr from perfect and I have embraced it with open arms 🙂
Think about it, how many times have you started a diet where you followed it to the letter? I mean, you wouldn’t even take a small lick of your daughter’s ice cream cone. How long did you stay on this plan? How long before you had one slip up and figured you blew it, and went right back to your old behaviors?
Don’t feel bad if this sounds like something that has happened to you over and over again. It happens to us all (myself included). It’s hard to not think of weight loss and dieting as an all or nothing approach. But do you want to know a secret? My clients that do everything perfectly all of the time are the ones I worry about the most. Why? Because no one can be perfect all of the time- especially when it comes to food! You are going to slip up at some point, and you should! I want to share a funny story with you about when my husband was diagnosed with high blood pressure. As we left the doctor’s office, he told me he wanted to go to the grocery store. So we went and as we were there, he asked me to help him find only the foods with the absolute lowest possible sodium content- we even found zero sodium bread (yummy right?).
For about a week, he lived on salads, zero sodium bread, and a few other flavorless foods. I also prepared everything from scratch for him, right down to homemade dressings and condiments, to keep his sodium as low as possible. Now, let me just interject that as I was doing this for him, I was also preaching the benefits of moderation and how some sodium is OK with high blood pressure. But he wouldn’t listen. Why? Well partly because I’m his wife, but mostly because he was in an all-or-nothing mindset. He was sure the answer to reversing his blood pressure issues was in eliminating sodium, and because of that, he couldn’t just slowly lower his intake. He had to be perfect. He had to have as close to no sodium as possible. Does this sound familiar? Can you guess the outcome? Yup- after about a week and a half he splurged on take-out pizza and some beer and gave up. Sound familiar?
Depriving yourself or trying to be perfect is, in my opinion, the #1 reason why most people are unable to lose weight and keep it off. Eating to lose weight and get healthy isn’t about deprivation and perfection – it’s about improvement! That’s it! It’s a learning process, just like anything in life. If your son came home from school and said he received a C on his algebra quiz today, would you tell him to just give up because he clearly will be unsuccessful at the class the rest of the semester? I sure hope not! Then why would you “give up” on your weight loss efforts because you had a slice of pizza last night? Are you really never, ever going to have a slice of pizza again in your life? I sure hope nope (I know for a fact my husband wouldn’t find life worth living without this staple!).
Losing weight and improving health is about improvement, not perfection! Today, just think of one simple thing you can do to improve your eating habits from yesterday. Could you eat one extra serving of vegetables, drink an extra glass of water (hello metabolism boost!), or walk for 5 minutes? Every little change really does at up to big results! What will you do to improve today?