Cravings happen. They tend to hit during a moment of weakness. When you’re going through an emotional challenge, you crave carbs. When you’re sleep deprived and exhausted, you crave sugar. When you’ve had a bad day, you crave alcohol.
But where do these cravings stem from? It can’t just be your brain, right? Otherwise you’d be able to override that physical need for whatever you’re craving. And you wouldn’t feel guilty giving in to that craving.
Well, as it turns out, it all boils down to your gut health.
Those thousands of bacterial strains - the good, the bad, or the indifferent - that live in your gut are influencing your behavior. Essentially, the food that you eat is impacting both your gut and your brain. Inside your intestines, you’ve got trillions of bacteria - collectively known as the microbiome - that are sending messages to the brain. When you give them the wrong foods - like sugar and processed foods - the bacteria send unhealthy messages to your brain instead of healthy ones.
The key to getting your microbiome to send healthy messages to your brain, letting it know that you’re satiated, happy, and content? Eating a fiber-and-nutrient-dense diet that includes foods like broccoli, legumes, brussels sprouts, etc. The bacteria feast on the fiber, digest it, and release a gas that goes right up to your brain, letting it know that all is good and you’ve been well-fed, so there’s no need for sugary, processed snacks.
The bottom line? If you avoid foods that generate the cravings messages, you’ll stop cravings before they start.
So what are the best ways to keep that microbiome of yours happy and satiated?
Fill up on FiberYou’re going to want to be getting at least 30 grams of fiber a day. It seems like a lot, but it really isn’t - a cup of cooked split peas contains more than half of your daily requirement. The problem with fiber is that you don’t want to introduce it all at once and you don’t want to consume it all in one sitting.When possible, split up your fiber over your three daily meals - 10 grams for breakfast, 10 grams for lunch, and 10 grams for dinner. That’ll ensure you aren’t running to the toilet post-meal ;).
Balance Meals and SnacksEvery time you eat, make sure there’s a balance of fiber, protein, and good fat on your plate to fill you up, give your gut bacteria plenty of fiber to feed on, prevent cravings, and keep blood sugar stable.
Fill up on Prebiotic FoodsFiber-rich prebiotics - foods like asparagus, artichokes, beans, broccoli, dandelion greens, garlic, jicama, leeks, and onions will curb cravings. Low-fiber foods will have the opposite effect.
Hold the SugarWhen you stop eating sugar-packed foods, cravings retreat, so ditch processed foods and baked goods, which are loaded with sugar - and devoid of the fiber your microbiome needs to prevent cravings.
Get Yourself a ProbioticA good quality probiotic - one that needs to be refrigerated - can help restore and sustain the beneficial gut flora that keeps your microbiome healthy and balanced.
WAIT. There’s more. And this is just a bonus. Eating a nutrient-dense diet full of fiber has actually been scientifically proven to make you happier. Our body’s feel good hormones - serotonin and dopamine - are made in your gut, not in your brain. So a healthy gut = a happy mind!