Did you hear that? Yes, that embarrassing growl in my stomach. I’m sure I’m not pregnant, but right now I feel like I need to eat for two. Many days by mid-morning or late afternoon it feels like I haven’t had a bite of food in years, but I just ate a few hours back.
Does this sound familiar? Though our bodies come in different shapes and sizes, one thing we all encounter is the craving monster. For me, he usually comes in two different levels. Level one is the monster that prefers a healthful meal, but must have it within exactly 15 minutes from when he shows up. If this level one status is not handled then major problems can occur. I immediately have to get to the nearest Burger King for a double whopper value meal.
In these times of desperation I find myself wondering how this happened. Despite what my figure may suggest, I, too, have occasionally fallen from grace into this craving mode and yielded to the temptations of the worst foods out there. The reason we reach for these high-calorie meals in times of high stress, emotion or hunger goes way back in time. During our nomad and caveman days, times of stress or hunger triggered chemicals in our blood that told our brain that we need dense calories ASAP. Unfortunately, our bodies did not get the memo that we now have grocery stores and don’t need to take in as many calories as possible in a hurry. This leads us to race to our version of a fresh kill — fast food.
Luckily over the years I have learned some rules I live by that can also help you on your road to six-pack abs and healthy eating.
Rule #1: Never get Hungry. What I mean by this is for you to time out your meals as best as possible so that you are eating small meals through out the day. In general I try to eat every three hours.
Rule #2: Never get Thirsty. This one is a little more manageable. You should be pumping water constantly throughout the day to avoid dehydration. Many of our so-called hunger cravings are actually hydration cravings. Next time you feel that craving coming on, try chugging eight ounces of water and see if it dissipates. I set an alarm every two hours on my phone to help remind me to maintain liquid intake throughout the day. One thing many people don’t realize is that once you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated even during exercise. Before exercise, hyper-hydrate two to three hours prior and just take small sips every few minutes during your workout. This will help you to maintain hydration and therefore avoid cravings post workout
Rule #3: Keep Snack Stashes. I am constantly grazing throughout the day. My friends wonder where I keep them. I suggest keeping emergency healthful snacks everywhere. I have at least three cans of nuts in my car, emergency protein shake powder in my work and gym bags and I even have hidden a few granola bars in case I get hungry between classes. You may look silly at first having stashes of snacks, but I promise you wont look silly this summer when it’s time to take your shirt off.
The key to snacking is to remember it’s just a snack so use it to hold you over until you can make it to a healthful meal. The bottom line is that nine times out of 10, a hungry mind leads to a hefty mid-section so feed your machine.