We’ve all been there. I’m ‘there’ right now! I’ve gained about half a stone since an injury has left me housebound (an Achilles tendon tear which required surgery). As a result, I’ve put myself back on the Motivation Programme.

I was on the Maintenance Plan up until now, but now need to lose some weight. My goal is to shift a good bit of it before spring hits (my absolute favourite season, besides summer of course!). But, since it’s become cold again, I notice myself dreaming of a nice chunk of white bread with slab of butter! I’m not a bit fazed by it; I would have been thrown before, but I now know some simple tips to help keep those carbohydrate cravings at bay and I’d love to share them with you. Also, please do remember that if you’re at the start of your weight loss journey that it does take about three weeks to retrain your palate – so be patient! Those carbohydrate cravings will lessen and you’ll soon have a grip on them.

How To Overcome Carbohydrate Cravings

1. Find a healthy substitute: you don’t want to derail your plan, especially since you’ve noticed your clothes getting a little looser. So all you need to do is to find ‘copies’ of your favourite carbs. My downfall is usually crisps on a Friday night.

The substitute?

Dry frying tortilla ‘wraps’ sprinkled with paprika and cut into triangles so ‘trick’ my brain into thinking I’m eating crisps. Or 1-2 cups of homemade popcorn with some Himalayan sea salt can satisfy that itch just as nicely.

Similarly, I’ve grown to love cauliflower rice and some clients swear by cauliflower pizza base or even cauliflower cous cous or these brilliant buffalo-flavoured snacks using – yes, you guessed it – cauliflower. Same goes for courgette ‘spaghetti’, made using a sprializer. And if it’s bread you’re craving, try this brilliant Almond Bread. If you’re the sweet carb kind, try Jodie’s banana-based pancakes.

2. Snack smartly: it’s so important to not miss your snacks in-between meals so that you avoid those dreaded ‘dips’ in energy that can lead to cravings and tiredness. Stick to healthy options like a protein bar, some almonds or macadamia nuts, seaweed snacks (available from health stores) or, my favourites – a simple boiled egg or a small handful of garlic-stuffed olives.

Nut butters spread on an apple or celery stick can also get you out of a carb-craving situation, as can Greek yoghurt topped with some dry-fried almonds and a small handful of berries (or make it into ‘frozen yoghurt’ by blending in half a banana and popping in the freezer).

3. Get out that recipe book: I can’t overestimate enough how crucial it is to enjoy your food so that you don’t feel deprived. Learning a handful of quick and simple recipes can bring back that satisfaction and taste that is similar to some of the food you’ve been missing.

Have you looked at our recipes online yet? If not, have a go – they are delicious, healthy AND all in line with our plans, devised by dietitian Jodie Wood. I’m looking forward to trying Jodie’s Prawn and Pineapple Penang Curry.

If you prefer having a book to hand in the kitchen, then look no further than our Deliciously Healthy recipe book, packed full of recipe that makes it super simple to stick to any of our weight loss plans (as we have done all the work for you, in terms of working out allocations for each recipe).

4. Up the magnesium: this is a crucial mineral as it helps regulate blood sugar levels, and a deficiency can have you reaching for a muffin or multiple slices of toast. But not many people know that magnesium is actually one of the most deficient minerals across the world (industrialized agriculture has lead to the depletion of this mineral but it can also be explained, in part, by the fact on our over-use of pharmaceutical drugs which can deplete this mineral, as can stress and a diet high in sugar – no wonder then that most of us are deficient then!).

We can boost our intake of magnesium by incorporating foods such as green leafy vegetables, seaweed, beans and nuts.

I’m a real fan of taking baths with Epsom salts, which is another way to get magnesium in (it absorbs through your skin and into your blood system). Another benefit of magnesium is that it soothes the nervous system and, in that way, can help ease anxiety (and aids a good night’s sleep!) – an all-round winner of a mineral!

5. Try the ‘crowding out’ method: Instead of thinking about the fact that you’re trying to eat fewer carbs, focus instead on how to add more veggies to your plate. Try experimenting with colour, adding as much colour to your plate as you can – greens, reds, orange and even purple veggies offer, not just a host of important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants but also, by doing this, you’re naturally increasing your intake of fibre. This boosts satiety levels and can help reduce carb cravings.

And don’t forget the protein! Protein helps keep your blood sugars level throughout the day and will also help you stay fuller for longer. Additionally, certain proteins (such as grass-fed beef, asparagus, broccoli and beans) contain the amino acid glutamine, which helps stabilize blood sugar levels even further.

Do try to remember that chronic stress and a lack of good quality sleep will lead to carbohydrate cravings so try to get on top of these with some meditation and some downtime scheduled into your diary! Have a read of our tips on meditation here. And perhaps re-read the point on magnesium (above) as a crucial mineral that could help with both. Also, don’t forget to cut caffeine after 2pm and to have at least an hour of screen-free time before bed.

Please click here to find out more about booking an initial assessment with you nearest Motivation clinic.

Blog Post by Maebh Coyle