What if I told you, that you could reduce your cravings by over 50%? What if I also told you that by applying this one practical strategy, you could finally begin losing the weight and body fat that you’ve struggled with for years? It’s not some secret pill and it’s not some new dieting fad. What I’m about to share with you actually has nothing to do with changing your diet but it has a huge impact on your diet. Obviously the type of food and how much you consume matters, but haven’t you ever been on a diet where you ate healthier choices and reduced your calories only to fall off within a few days, maybe a few weeks. So what stops most of us from being consistent with following the meal plan that we were so excited and motivated to adhere to at the start? The answer…that I’m sure you already know of from experience…are cravings.
While you may be quick to search for what’s the best diet or supplement out there to curb those irresistible cravings, these strategies don’t address the source of where those cravings stem from. So even though you may be able to temporarily reduce your desire to eat, the problem still exists and will inevitably catch up to you when you are at your weakest.
At this point, you may be thinking to yourself, “What else can I do?”
Something I’ve come to realize that has been true over and over again for many of the thousands of people that I’ve had the opportunity of working with is that most people already know what to do. The problem I find is that we’re distracted by all of the contradicting information that’s available to us with the click of a mouse and we tend to disregard the simple, but potentially most effective means to an end and chase after the complex, intricate, and surreal strategies that eventually leave us feeling unsatisfied and disappointed.
I’ve struggled with overeating and overindulging throughout my life, but there was this one time a few years ago that I just had enough. I had eaten more than what I had intended and I was just fed up with myself. I didn’t understand why some days were easier than others. I couldn’t figure out why on certain days I felt no desire to munch on the sweets that I craved and I felt like I had complete control over myself and my emotions compared to other days where I felt like there was a voice in my head who’s goal was to impede that control.
Of course, right after I overate, I didn’t feel good about it and self-compassion wasn’t to be found. I immediately went into my room, laid on my bed, and closed my eyes to sleep. I remember that day as if it were only yesterday. It was about 8:30 PM when I went to bed, upset with myself because I messed up again. The next morning, I woke up (without my alarm) at about 5 AM, two hours earlier than I usually woke up to start my day. I hopped in the shower, drank a cup of water, and I remember noticing that my feeling of disappointment transformed into curiosity. I wanted to know why some days were more challenging than others because it wasn’t only me struggling with this, most of everyone I worked with say they struggled with the same thing. The good news is that my unusually long 8 1/2 hour night of rest gave me a clue of what was the underlying force that kept relinquishing my self-control.
I already knew that sleep played an immense role in decreasing body fat due to hormonal responses, but that still didn’t explain my lack of control on any given day. At about 5:30 AM, my research began, as I typed away at the keyboard trying to find studies that contained a correlation between sleep and food cravings. In the next half hour, I was able to find and review multiple studies. I found the following studies this morning in approximately 30 minutes to match my experience a few years ago and they concluded:
- The less sleep you got, the more progressive food desire became even though hunger levels between groups stayed the same.
- Poor sleep quality was associated with increased likelihood of junk food cravings and associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and other health problems.
- Lack of sleep may induce cravings for unhealthy foods.
- Teens rated pictures of sweet/dessert foods to be more appealing after sleep restriction compared to healthy sleep duration but did not affect self-reported hunger.
- Lack of sufficient sleep may compromise the efficacy of common weight-loss interventions.
- A clear-cross relation between sleep duration and weight was found in a study conducted over a 16 year period with over 68,000 women.
And that’s what I found in only a half hour. The fact of the matter is, there is plenty of research that shows the importance that sleep plays on cognitive function, yet we continue to look for other methods to solve our problems. But the research is clear. If we want to struggle less with the temptations that surround us on a daily basis, if we want to make weight/fat loss easier, and if we want to feel more in control with our appetites, then we need to begin working towards getting more sleep.
And as challenging as getting at least 8 hours of sleep may sound, especially to those who have hectic, demanding, and unpredictable work schedules, topped with our numerous daily responsibilities, it is an issue that will need to be dealt with, sooner or later.
Here are 3 Tips that will help you get more sleep:
TIP #1 – MANAGE YOUR TIME
For me, every Sunday, I plan out my entire week in my planner. I write down everything from when I wake up in the morning to when I go to bed. I include what time I eat my meals to when I plan to get my work done. I even block out time for my wife and kids. By doing this, I feel in control and I can do everything that I plan to do. Of course, things out of my control are inevitably going to happen, but having a schedule helps me jump right back into what I had planned. TIP: I recommend overestimating how much time it’ll take you to complete any given task otherwise you may begin to feel overwhelmed with tasks that begin to pile up.
TIP #2 – DEVELOP A SLEEP RITUAL
Using the “Manage Your Time” strategy above, I know exactly what needs to happen in order to trigger my mind and body that it’s time for bed. At 7:45 PM, I need to make sure I’m getting my girls ready for bed (e.g., shower, bed-time clothes on, seated at the table for dinner). At 8:20 PM, I need to have taken a shower and be ready to read to my daughters from 8:40-9:00 PM, at which point I’ll put them to bed. Then my wife and I eat our last meal of the day, watch some NetFlix, and just before bed, I eat an apple, take my vitamins, brush my teeth and put my head down to sleep. I have these rituals and routines throughout the entire day and what’s interesting is that if I skip any part of it, it throws my entire routine out of whack. TIP: I recommend putting away all devices or refrain from doing anything that makes you anxious or wanting to know what happens next e.g. watching a captivating show, reading an interesting book, or playing “Candy Crush” on your smartphone!
TIP #3 – KEEP A PEN AND PAPER BY YOUR BEDSIDE
I believe it was about a year ago when I started seeing stress spots (bald areas) on my face and head. I was really worried because I didn’t want to go bald and I was too young to be going bald! I knew that this was originating from stress. I just had too much on my mind and it was difficult to process it all. I felt like I wasn’t able to keep up with what had to be done and what I might have forgotten, especially before bed. At that point, I knew that I had to figure out some kind of strategy to get these thoughts out of my head. And it came to me very easily. Why don’t I just write down any thought that comes to mind before bed on a piece of paper so that I could set my mind at ease? If you really think about it, you can’t and probably won’t do anything about a thought that comes to your mind right before you’re about to get to bed. The only sure thing thinking about it at that moment will do is stress you out and make it more difficult for you to get to bed. TIP: I use an app called “Trello” to organize my tasks in order of priority but as I mentioned in the previous tip if you’re prone to get distracted with devices, I suggest using pen and paper.
So rather than getting caught up in all the fad diets, excessive exercise plans, and marketing claims that supplement companies specialize in attracting you towards, start to ponder on how you can begin to get more sleep or at the very least improve the quality of sleep that you can get. Because if you want to finally feel empowered, in control, and if you want to finally be able to follow through with making healthier food choices more consistently, healthy and sufficient sleep is crucial to your success.
I hope you enjoyed this post and that it helps you begin tackling your nutritional challenges.
~ Coach Garret Rumbea