Ladies! Its Autumn and the one thing that comes with Autumn and cooler weather that I don't wish for is those awful carbohydrate cravings!
Already my Pinterest board is suddenly full of pumpkin baked everything and garlic covered crusty bread and carbohydrate filled cardboard because literally anything that has carbs in it I am suddenly craving. And I don't mean the usual oh I'm a hormonal and sometimes emotional female who sometimes just needs a cupcake, I mean the I have become Cookie Monster (circe 1980's unhealthy version) and I crave everything I see that involves sweet or savory concoctions full of flour! And I know I am not the only one, I can list at least 10 girlfriends off the top of my head who I know get this same "drawn to the mothership" craving as me. But I won't give in!
Like most of my girlfriends, carbs are my downfall. Cupcakes? Yes please! Cookies? Oh if you insist! Fresh baked gluten free bread to go with a nice hearty winter soup? Absolutely! I hate these cravings as much as I do enjoy the occasional indulgence in them. Cravings are the enemy.
I realize that in some other time like when our ancestors lived a more subsistence hunter gatherer lifestyle, these cravings were biologically in place to well, help us make sure we ate and stored enough fat and food for the scarcer winter months but guess what, we ain't living in Bible times anymore so these biological safety features only serve to make us all crazy carbohydrate eating monsters who then look in the mirror around, oh, New Years and see some jiggle and start to allow Satan the opportunity to whisper thoughts of self loathing and insecurity.
Seriously ladies, he does that, he lives to do just that! So we have to say no!
Don't get me wrong, I want all the baked goodies too but I know I don't need them. This is some serious mind over matter. Put down the cookie, you do not in fact need it and your body will in fact survive, even flourish without it!
So here are some tips, just from my own personal experience on how to overcome the carb cravings during these colder months.
1. And this is super important... allow yourself the carbs 1-3 times per week depending on how well you can really stick to that and how your personal make up handles carbs. Me personally, I have to go for 1 because I'll probably inevitably get to 3 by the end of the week so I need to know I've stayed within reason.
2. Make a list of your cravings. Really! Write them down on paper and leave room to put an alternative list to each food in a corresponding column.
3. Make the healthy alternative list right next to them and take it with you everywhere!
So for example, I really like potato chips, something salty and crunchy... so as an alternative, I can take carrot chips and other crunchy veg and put them in a mild salt water brine for 5-12 hours so that I have a salty, crunchy, but low carb and healthier snack.
4. Stop buying things with carbs in them. Don't buy those favorite breakfast breads, cereals and cupcake mixes. If they aren't in your pantry, your a lot less likely to eat them. And that goes for the dairy too, its not good for you and dairy is actually very high in sugars and carbs, and sugars... turn into carbs.
5. Stock up on dark leafy greens. This might be an adjustment for some but I happen to have found a whole lot to love about Kale, Swiss Chard and other greens. Pack them in every meal, well at least lunch and dinner. Kale and other dark leafy greens (not spinach, darker is better) have a much higher nutrients per calorie ratio and if you really stick to eating at least 1 cup worth in every meal you'll find you are fuller longer than if you'd gone for that left over muffin from breakfast. I say this from experience.
6. Find healthier ways to satiate that carb craving. Beans are a good source of carbs that require your body to work harder to digest so even though you don't want to pack a way a lot of them on a daily basis, they will help satisfy that "I need carbs" feeling. And fruit! Its harder to get the sweet berries in winter but go explore and find some fruit you can really enjoy on a daily basis. Fruit is packed with sugar (better sugars that the processed kind at least) that again, will turn into fat storing carbs so don't go overboard but think of them as your cupcake craving replacement!
7. Hit the GYM! I say this with all sincerity and as much for myself as for anyone who is actually reading this! Its just like Elle Woods said in Legally Blonde, "Exercise gives you endorphins! Endorphins make you Happy!" :D But really, those endorphins, they're the bomb! I have the advantage of working at the Y where I literally only have to walk 30 feet to change after work and then work out but you too can do this! Go on a nice refreshing walk every day and enjoy that crisp autumn air! Pull out those old jazzercise videos or that Wii Just Dance game and have at it! Just get moving, the natural happy drugs your body creates are so worth it and will keep you from getting into those hibernation all I want to do is eat mindsets.
8. Do cardio but also get over the fear of the big muscle men in the weight room and go lift some weights! You won't get swole, you'll get shapely! In the most femininely pleasing kind of ways to the opposite sex! And don't be afraid of lifting heavier. Start with 10-15lbs for arms but work your way up, if all you ever do is 10-15lbs and you never progress in weight, then you're not progressing in challenging your muscles either. And do leg exercises that involve weights!! Not just squats which are good for you too but leg presses and squats with a bar over your shoulders or two hand weights in hand to add weight to the squat. If you don't know how to use the leg press, then go find the most attractive male gym attendant on duty, bat your eyelashes and ask for a demonstration ;)
9. Make all of your food look appetizing when you plate it! Salad on a cold rainy night? I know, not what I'm craving either, but by making it look pretty and filling it with colorful red, yellow and orange veggies, I can dig it once I've gone in for my 1st few bites and know that I am obliterating those typical New Year's revolution before they ever become a concern!
10. L-O-V-E YOURSELF! Look in the mirror every night and say to yourself, You Are LOVELY! You Are Beautiful! YOU CAN DO THIS! If you slip up, DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP ABOUT IT!! Seriously, get over it! The next meal is a new meal just like tomorrow is a new day! "Just keep swimming" as that silly short termed memory blue fish in Nemo always says! You are perfect and wonderfully made and you are not less because you gave in, you are not a totaled wreck if you let the Carb Craving Cooking Monster side of yourself take over on that last meal or skipped the gym the last 3 days. Just pick yourself up and start fresh! It's all good and you will glow with new found nutrients and endorphins by the time your fitting into that cute dress at Christmas parties because you didn't let the carbs get you down before the festivities had begun! ;)
Note: I am not a trained nutritionist or trainer, the above advice is all given from my own personal experience and results only.