18 November 2008

Craving busters

Hmmm, I'm not sure if this is a good idea long-term, but I'll share it anyway and let you know if I change my mind.

Even given my porridge breakfasts, which I love but which don't keep me full all morning, I've struggled recently with a 'fake hunger' or odd cravings mid- to late-morning and found it quite hard to keep myself on track. I'm not at all happy about this as it threatens to derail the progress I've made or, at best, slow down the progress I'm making at the moment. So I've given it some thought, and identified a couple of things that may help me to kick those dreaded 'I want something nice, and I want it right now' cravings right where they hurt.

For me, something which is definitely strongly flavoured and usually not too sweet is where my cravings want to take me. So, apart from those 'want chocolate' days (which are generally time of month related and for which I haven't found a good substitute... yet!) something savoury and/or salty is often what I would naturally gravitate towards. This puts the dreaded crisps and savoury snacks (especially the stronger flavoured ones, like garlic or chilli) and salted nuts firmly in the frame - and they're not a good choice. Why? Well, what do they generally have, other than strong flavours and salt? Loads of fats, so loads of calories (often well in excess of 500kcal per 100g), and once you start off with 'just one' from a packet, the rest seem to evaporate!

So what should I choose that will satisfy the cravings, that I can eat only a little of at one time, that isn't excessively high in calories (although if can only eat a little and be satisfied, this is up for negotiation) and is readily available so that I can keep a little stock at work?

My two (proposed) craving busters are:

Single salt liquorice (either Belgian or Dutch ones are good)
Like these Belgian ones

These weigh in at about 300kcal per 100g, and 100g gives you in the region of 32 or 33 of the little lozenge-shaped beauties, so around 9kcal per lozenge. The best ones are the harder type - the softer ones disappear far too fast. With the harder ones I cannot generally eat more than two in one session!

Dark chocolate covered coffee beans
Like the ones from Caffe Nero (sorry chaps, can't find a way to include the accent!)

These weigh in at about 469kcal per 100g so don't sound quite such a good idea, but they are sold in little 25g boxes, with around 18 or 19 beans inside. This makes them about 6.5kcal per bean, and I can usually stop myself after three or four.

OK, these aren't really savoury, but they aren't sweet either. Given the bit of a chocolate coating, these may also combat the 'want chocolate' cravings - watch this space.

Add to this, my old favourites of herbal teas, fruit and Ryvita, and you never know, I might just be on to something. Maybe it's time to go shopping?

This fits in with a number of my original 'rules of engagement', which were to:

  • think before I eat - make active choices, not just follow old habits
  • eat much more slowly and take time to enjoy the food in front of me
  • eat only what I'm actually enjoying (not liking it = leave it)
  • reduce the portions I dish up (get a smaller plate)
  • choose with common sense - swap high fat foods with healthier options (same goes for sugars)
  • cut down on the salt I'm eating (by a lot!)
  • cut down the alcohol I drink each week (and increase my water intake)
  • drink fruit teas more often
  • increase the amount of fruit and veg I eat - I like the stuff for heaven's sake!
  • pick some really nice fruit for those little snacks, not crisps or biscuits


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