10 WAYS TO WEAN YOURSELF OFF CARBS, CAFFEINE, AND MORE
Your new healthy lifestyle calls for a clean diet. In the past, your cravings have prevented you from maintaining a healthy diet and your plan to become healthier instantly backfired. Instead of digging yourself in a hole and fighting your cravings until you give in, there are ways you can create healthy habits to support your goals.We spoke with Mary Finckenor, a registered dietitian with the Chambers Center for Wellbeing in Morristown, New Jersey, about painless, realistic ways to wean yourself off the foods and drinks that are not supporting your healthy life.
BEWARE OF VEGETABLES MADE UNHEALTHY
Vegetables are one of the most important parts of a healthy diet but not if they are deep-fried or covered in salt. “A large order of fries from any fast food place will run you about 500 calories, that’s the same amount of calories in a potato that weighs in at 18 ounces – over one pound,” Finckenor says. “Most people could polish off the fries, but with the potato, they’d probably get full before they could eat the whole thing.” If you must have potatoes, eat them boiled, steamed, or mashed – or, better yet, substitute regular potatoes with sweet potatoes or squash.
CLEAN OUT YOUR PANTRY
Leaving tempting foods in your refrigerator and pantry will only set you up for failure. “Keep any sweet processed foods and sweetened beverages out of your house,” Finckenor says. “If you absolutely must keep those foods in your house for other people, have them put it in a hiding place you don’t know about.”
CONSIDER TRYING DECAF
“Even though decaf coffee has some caffeine, it’s far less than regular brewed coffee,” Finckenor says. “Many people just love the taste a good cup of coffee. Decaf coffees are known to taste wimpy so go for a robust decaf and you’ll get the same flavor and enjoyment.”
ELIMINATE PROCESSED FOODS
Sometimes the best way to wean yourself off unhealthy and addicting foods is by removing the cookies, cake, and sweetened drinks. “For sugar, go cold turkey on all sweet processed foods,” Finckenor says. “You may be cranky for a day or two, but after that you won’t miss it.” It may be tempting to eat processed foods when you are at the movie theater or on the go, but eating processed foods in moderation will only make you want them more.
ENJOY NATURAL SUGARS
“Make sure you are eating two to four servings of fruit a day to help reset your body’s enjoyment of naturally sweet foods,” Finckenor says. “While a juicy Honey Crisp apple is sweet and delicious, it’s not as appetite-stimulating as a cookie. Eat one apple and you probably don’t want a second, but eat a cookie and the next thing you usually want is another cookie! Once you get off the processed sweets, fruit will taste even better.” If you are still worried about consuming too much sugar with fruit, brush up on which fruits contain the most sugar.
EXERCISE TO KEEP YOUR MIND STEADY
“Keep up that exercise and if you’re not exercising now, even walking is great,” Finckenor says. “Exercise, besides it’s many, many other benefits, helps keep you in a healthy mindset and that can make it so much easier to keep up healthy behavior changes like cutting out addictive foods.”
PAIR CARBOHYDRATES WITH PROTEIN
“Always have carbs with protein,” Finckenor says. “If carbs send your appetite into overdrive, make sure you have protein with them so that you’ll get full faster and stay full longer.” For example, pair a slice of whole-grain bread with two tablespoons of nut butter.
“One of the reasons it’s hard to give something up is that when you succeed, you get nothing,” Finckenor says. “When you fail and give in, you might get a lot of guilt but you do get that treat. You can change that by working out a reward system for succeeding. Set it up for whatever works for you. If you give up sugar for a week, schedule a massage!”
SAY GOODBYE TO PROCESSED CARBOHYDRATES
Keep your carbs as minimally processed as you can. “Most carb addicts could easily eat a loaf of good Italian or French bread, made from processed white flour,” Finckenor says. “Change that loaf into one that’s made with whole grains and most carb-lovers probably wouldn’t eat the whole thing. The whole grain gives you extra fiber which gives more chew factor and fills you up quicker.”
SLEEP OFF THE CRAVINGS
“You know how much better you are when you get enough shuteye so go into the fight ready by getting a good night’s sleep,” Finckenor says. Lack of sleep affects your diet negatively by throwing your cravings all over the board.