What Do YOU Crave?

Dear Leah Renee,

I overeat.  I know I do.  Sometimes I simply am craving something in particular and give in, while other times I’m legitimately feel hungry, so I eat then too.  I tend to snack as well, and enjoy doing so because, well, I like food.  Is there a way to enjoy food but not have the waistline to go along with it? –Anonomous

We get all sorts of cravings.  We crave friends, family, happiness, love, food, desserts, warmth, vacations, activity, and alone time.   What all these things have in common is they make us feel good.  We like feeling good.  What most of these things also have in common is they’re not always (immediately) attainable.  Vacations typically need to be worked for, friends aren’t always around or we get busy, same with family, and we don’t always have time to do whatever we choose; but food?  Food is always there.  Food makes us feel good, and we can have that during just about anytime throughout the day.

We eat for all sorts of reasons.  We reach for food when we feel bored, stressed, lonely, happy, sad; all of these emotions have the ability to affect our eating habits and have us reaching for something tasty.

What are you truly hungry for?  It’s funny how much our psychology changes as we get older.  Food is hardly just fuel anymore; dates are based around it, so are parties, and money plays a large factor.  Think back to when you were a kid and you were called in from your outdoor activities to go have dinner.  Is there anything else you would rather not do than to break up all that fun you’re having to go eat?!  So annoying!  Play > Eat.  It was as simple as that.  Now?  Eat > Work.  Eat > House Chores.  Eat > Tackle other tasks or think about things you may not want to.

So what to do?!  When it comes to meals, enjoy each one.  Don’t be rushed with it.  Sure, there will be times you’re on the go and you need something to fit in accordingly—but that does not mean you cannot appreciate what you’re eating and pay attention to the experience.  Think about what you would like to have as a snack, and stock up and bring it with you so you’re not grabbing at just anything around.  When watching TV, pay attention to the show.  When it’s time for your meal, pay attention to that.  By focusing on each activity separately, it’s harder to let the mind wander and mindlessly snack on something while simultaneously doing something else.

When it comes to overeating, we do so for many reasons.  It tastes good, it feels good, we are in good company and get to indulge, or maybe we got a good deal on a value meal.  One problem: your stomach doesn’t know a deal.  It’s great when companies give us “value” for our money.  I can appreciate a two for one or half off tickets to a movie, a concert, or theme park.  Airline travel discounts—score!  Food?  Only when it’s not perishable!  When I have to finish something in one sitting or it’s going to go bad the next day, I don’t see how we’re going to benefit from that.  If anything our brain and pocketbook will see the value in this, but our belly will not.  It just knows when it’s had enough—and chances are that extra amount isn’t going to do anything other than making you uncomfortably full.  It’s either in the waste or ON your waist!  A scale system in your own mind can help you evaluate as well: how hungry are you really, on a scale of 1 to 10?  You be the judge, and be honest.  How full are you on a scale of 1 to 10?  Remember, it takes a little time for food to digest, so keep that in mind!  Listen to your body.

Mindless snacking, overeating at a meal, or simply eating too much in general can helped be controlled by re-evaluating what it is you really want and how you can take control right then to satisfy that without using food as the aid.  If you’re bored or frustrated during the workday—get up and stretch your legs, go for a quick walk, or bug another co-worker to give you the latest gossip for a distraction.  If you’re home alone and already ate, go for a walk, go to a local coffee shop for some tea (we often confuse thirst for hunger anyway), call a friend (we don’t do that enough anymore!), start a project, watch a movie, or read something you can get lost in (or be like me and go on Pinterest).

We ALL get cravings, and that’s very normal!  It’s also normal to give into them from time to time!  We can’t be perfect all the time, nor should we expect to be.  If I want some peanut M&M’s, it’s on.  If you have a craving for something sweet and it’s been a while–go for it!  If you’re seeing your waistline suffer because you’re doing so all the time, maybe you’re craving something else.

What To Do When the Sweet Tooth Calls?!

Dear Leah Renee, 

I have a terrible sweet tooth and I need help! Do you have any suggestions for healthier dessert options? ~Bonnie, TX

Oh, if only chocolate didn’t taste sooo good!  Maybe chocolate isn’t your thing, but it’s safe to say most of us crave sweets from time to time (or in some cases daily…hourly…).  Sometimes we’ll say the heck with it and just indulge in the most decadent dessert possible.  Other times we’ll want to be a little more conservative, satisfying the craving without having the guilt or suffering the consequences of a sugar hangover.

First order of business: choose your poison.  Next, choose the alternativeor get even more hardcore and choose the even healthier option.

justin's pb cups

Choosing organic candy or chocolate is not necessarily going to be any less caloric or contain less sugar than its conventional counterparts, but it will take away all those nasty chemicals and bad ingredients (like GMO’s) that organic will leave behind.  In my opinion, this is so important.  Our body’s were designed to digest and filter ingredients it knows, and that means as natural as possible.  So, I say if it’s chocolate and peanut butter you love, go for Justin’s Peanut Butter cups (instead of on like Reese’s).  In this particular case, there’s 7 less grams of sugar in Justin’s.  Want a homemade option?  Try this:

chocolate peanut butterYou can use a spoonful of each, first peanut butter then topped with chocolate chips, or you can use what’s left in the jar and add the chocolate chips right in the container.  I like sprinkling some cinnamon or add a little raw honey too!  You could even warm the chocolate chips up a little first to make it even more decadent.

If your more of an ice cream person, again, choose one with minimal ingredients, or even one without dairy at all.  If you’re thinking of frozen yogurt, I would do ice cream instead.  Fro-yo tends to contain a whole slew of harmful ingredients.  Check out this by Food Babe for the low-down on just how crazy the additives in frozen yogurt has become.  And if that weren’t enough–adding all the toppings available, unless it’s fruit, will be a total sugar and chemical overload.  Here are some ice cream brands that are a step above the rest IF you are not making your own at home (click pic for info):

365 Organic Ice Cream



coconut bliss


Down to make your very own at home?  You can do it with as little as one ingredient!  Frozen bananas!  Yes, it’s that easy.  They need to be frozen beforehand, I usually just gather up some that are too ripe to eat anymore, slice them in half, and freeze them (without the skin) in the morning or before bed.  Put some in your Vitamix, food processor, or high speed blender, wait until they’ve defrosted just a little (enough to start blending, or you can add a little almond milk), and start blending.  Want a mint version?  Add a little peppermint oil or extract.  Vanilla?  Add vanilla extract.  Want the works?  Add a tablespoon of almond or peanut butter and some chocolate chips.  If you like it fruity, put some berries on top, or blend with it.

None of this may do it for you because you prefer baked goods.  Click here for my black-bean brownies (trust me on this one) and here for a no-bake cookie dough bites!


cookie dough bites

Whatever your poison, there’s a healthier fix!  Enjoy your occasional indulgence, guilt-free.