It’s that time of year where it’s easy to succumb to your cravings for carbs that you typically have no problem resisting during the rest of the year. When the next month or so features meals revolving around mashed potatoes, stuffing, fresh-baked rolls and plenty of holiday cheer in the form of cookies, cakes, pies and maybe some eggnog or cups of festive sugar-filled punch, it’s bound to test your willpower.
So, I thought I’d start off by reminding you how you can control those cravings before they get the best of you, so you are able to enjoy the holidays you’re stuck with a one-way ticket on the carbohydrate rollercoaster—that vicious cycle where once you soothe your carb craving, you’re hungry again after a couple hours. As you’ve learned on Atkins, decreasing your carb intake offers a variety of benefits, including:
- Burning your built-up reserves of fat for fuel, instead of carbs
- Eliminating spikes and slumps in your blood sugar
- Helping you lose and maintain your weight when you consume fewer carbs and replace them with fat and protein, as well as the whole-grain, unprocessed carbs you can tolerate while still losing or maintaining your weight.
I’d also like to share some research with you that shows that cutting back on carbs will help cut back on those cravings. A few years ago, I wrote about a study in the journal of Obesity, where 270 obese men and women were randomly assigned to a low-carb or low-fat diet for two years. The low-carb group limited their carbs and ate foods higher in fat and protein. The low-fat group’s diet consisted of 15% of the calories from protein, 30% from fat and 55% from carbs. During this time, the researchers measured the participants’ cravings for specific types of foods (sweets, high-fat, fast food and carbs), preferences for high-sugar, high-carb foods or low-carb/high-protein foods and appetite levels. According to the researchers, the low-carb diet had significantly fewer craving for carbs and didn’t feel as hungry as the low-fat group. Another interesting fact about this study is that each group had fewer cravings for the foods they were restricting (the low-carb group craved fewer high-sugar and high-carb foods while the low-fat group craved fewer foods higher in fat and protein).
The simple solution? Cut back on those carb- and sugar-filled foods that you crave the most, especially now. Science shows that this will help conquer those cravings. I admit that while this all sounds great in theory, it’s not always easy to practice when you’re in the midst of the most food-centric time of the year, but it’s a very important fact (and gentle reminder) to keep in mind that should hopefully get you through a few tempting situations. In the meantime, fill your plate up with plenty of fiber-rich vegetables, protein and healthy fats; start each day with breakfast; drink plenty of water and keep a selection of low-carb snacks on hand.