I need help to avoid falling off my healthy nutrition plan and cheating on my diet. I have been working out and trying to eat healthy for about 5 years now. Over that time, I have noticed that my cravings for sweet and salty foods really starts to kick in after about 5-6 weeks of eating really healthy. I tend to hit a wall at that point and completely breakdown on my diet. I end up binge eating on tons of high calorie foods like cookies, ice cream, donuts, pizza, hamburgers, fries and tons of other junk food. What can I do to avoid these binge eating episodes and stay on track with my healthy diet?
It’s actually a little uncommon to develop a huge craving for sweets and salty foods after having been on track with your nutrition plan while eating clean, healthy foods for several weeks. Usually what happens is the desire for these foods severely decreases after a person has been consuming quality nutrients for a certain length of time and the overall cravings for greasy fast food and sugary junk food diminishes.
Since you are having a noticeable increase in your cravings at this point, you might want to keep a diet journal for a full week just to see if there might be some hidden treats that are getting past the gates, which in turn is spiking your sensation for craving other forbidden foods. Most people tend to forget about a few items on their food intake, so by documenting everything you eat and drink for 7 days, you will really be able to pinpoint any potential issues with your current diet plan.
If after keeping a detailed diet journal for a full week, you can’t seem to find any cause for the increase in cravings, then there are a few things you can do to help curb these triggers to binge eat. The best tip I can give you is to remove all the cheat foods in your house and completely get rid of them! You can do this by donating them to a local homeless shelter, giving them to your neighbors, or just throw them away in the trash. However, if you dump them in the garbage make sure to actually take the trash to the curb so it’s completely out of the house and out of site so you really don’t have any direct access to it. Trust me, even if you leave it in the garbage, you might find yourself digging through it like a wild raccoon at 2am in the morning just to get your Krispy Kreme donut fix!
Once you have all those tempting high calorie, fat loaded and sugar packed goodies out of your house, start loading up your kitchen and pantry with lots of nutrient dense whole foods along with easy to access healthy snacks to munch on during the day. This example might sound a little strange but try to think of your situation like a person who is a recovering alcoholic. If you had a drinking problem, you would never keep bottles of wine, cans of beer, hard liqueur or any other type of alcoholic beverages in your house. It would be way too tempting and it would only be a matter of time before you completely fell off the wagon and started chugging down copious amounts of alcohol just like Nicolas Cage in “Leaving Las Vegas”!
For many people, food is a very powerful drug with strong effects on their feelings and emotions. So, try to get serious and start treating food like a drug in order to control your binge eating episodes. If you keep junk food in your house, you will eventually break down and binge on it. You might make it 4-5 weeks or even a few months, but eventually you will have a rough day where you’re totally stressed out and all you want to do is relax and have some fun. Unfortunately, this time of relaxation and fun usually ends up with you head first in a gigantic Costco sized box of Ding Dongs or a massive tub of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream!
If you are able to make a conscious decision to remove the forbidden junk foods from your house, then you will be forced to get in your car and drive to get the food you’re craving, if you absolutely have to have it. It’s so much more difficult to put on your clothes, grab your keys, start your car and drive out to find cheat food when these triggers hit you. During this time, you will also have thoughts running through your head like “what am I doing” which is usually a huge benefit to persuade you to turn the car around.
However, with junk food already lingering in the house, it’s so immediate and easily accessible that all it takes is for you to walk to the fridge or cupboard and crack open a big bag of salty potato chips, sugary cookies or sinful ice cream. This is the perfect storm for falling off your diet which quickly leads to massive binge eating episodes that always result in a tremendous amount of guilt and depression while wreaking havoc on your body.
The way around this junk food trap is to fill up your house with healthy, nutrient dense foods while pre-planning your meals for easy access to quality protein, carbs and healthy fats that will help you reach your goals. One of the best kitchen accessories to use is Tupperware. Cook up a bunch of skinless chicken breast, brown rice, yams and steamed veggies. This is the best way to have quick and easy meals ready to eat when you experience sudden cravings that come out of nowhere and start screaming your name!