People often ask me how I deal with cravings since I only eat fruits and veggies. Some view this lifestyle as restrictive, so eating this way must be a testament to my strong will. You might be surprised to learn that eating this way isn’t a struggle and it never should be. I didn’t completely clean up my diet overnight so I had plenty of time to adjust to eating this way. In the past few months, occasionally, I’d have killer cravings for rice or pasta but now I don’t experience them anymore.
I want to help you conquer your cravings for good! First, let’s look at why you experience cravings in the first place.
Reason #1: Your diet is deficient in fruits and veggies
If your diet isn’t primarily fruits and veggies already, your body craves the nutrients found in these foods. Do you find yourself craving something sweet at the end of meals? This means you didn’t eat enough fruit during the day. Skip over dessert and have fruit instead. Make a point to incorporate more fruit into your diet. The more fruit you eat, the less you’ll crave desserts and sugary processed treats.
Reason #2: You aren’t eating sufficient calories
If you crave pasta, bread, and heavy meals, eat more fruit! This means you’re hungry. How many calories have you eaten today? If you have no idea, start tracking your calories in Cronometer so you can make sure you eat enough. Because of the high fibre content and low-calorie density of raw foods, you’ll find yourself full well before you’ve eaten sufficient calories. This is one reason why newbie raw foodists fall off the wagon; they simply don’t eat enough! (Another reason is that they eat far too much fat.) You’ll get used to eating a larger volume of food over time. In the beginning, eat several meals per day.
Reason #3: You miss the experience
This happened to me when I quit drinking coffee. After a few weeks without it, I still had to fight the urge to visit cafés. It would be impossible for me to still be addicted to caffeine because so much time had passed. I simply missed the experience of sitting in a café, working on my laptop while sipping a hot sugary caffeinated beverage.
I’ve only been eating fully raw for three weeks now, and when I started, I did crave foods like pasta and rice but this was only because I missed the experience of eating warm foods like these. Now I don’t crave them at all.
Reason #4: You’re looking for a distraction
You probably are going through a stressful time if you crave your favourite comfort foods. Vegan mac&cheese was one of my favourites. Eating heavy foods like mac&cheese, ice cream, or whatever food calls your name in times of stress, only serves as a distraction from what’s really bothering you. Instead of confronting your problems and facing your emotions, you eat these foods and force your body to focus the majority of its energy into digestion. This is how the food “comforts” you. It leaves you numb because your body works so hard to digest it.
You may have attachments to certain foods because you associate positive emotions with them. It’s fine to remember the happy times you experienced when you used to eat them, but eating those same foods in the present isn’t going to change your current situation. There are only two ways to be happy: change the situation or change your mindset toward it. (Thanks, Tumblr, for that gem!) Eating these foods won’t help you.
Once you learn to deal with emotions without resorting to comfort foods and get past attachments to certain foods, you’ll find you won’t have cravings for anything other than raw fruits and veggies.
Reason #5: You’re simply bored
Ask yourself, are you hungry enough to eat an apple? If an apple doesn’t sound appealing and you’d rather nosh on some chips or pizza, you aren’t truly hungry. I don’t advocate eating JUST to eat, but if you want to snack on something to pass the time, have some fruit. It’s almost impossible to overeat on it. A better solution is to go for a walk or do something productive. Read a book, clean the kitchen, organise your things.
You can overcome your cravings!
The best advice I can offer you to help you conquer cravings is to eliminate excess fat from your diet, as well as salt, coffee, and alcohol. Fuel your body only with wholesome nutritious food and your body will crave these and nothing more.
The cleaner your diet, the easier it is to listen to your body. When I was in Paris, I started to notice how lethargic I felt the day after I ate rice or pasta. The morning after, I felt remarkably tired and my mind was foggy. I felt like I had taken Benedryl, which always has a strong sedative effect on me, the night before. This is because rice and pasta are more difficult to digest. My body was working overtime to break these foods down, hence my tiredness and lack of energy. Now that I know how poorly I’ll feel after I eat foods other than raw fruits and veggies, I have absolutely no desire to eat them.
Remember to go outside and walk. Stay active. Get plenty of sleep. Drink water. If cravings get the best of you, be easy on yourself but at the same time commit to making a change and stick with it. Don’t give up so easily! Fill up on fruit to keep those cravings at bay.
I wrote this post with the intention of explaining how to handle/avoid cravings when starting a raw lifestyle, but the same applies if you are just beginning your vegan journey. You may experience cravings as you eliminate all animal products from your diet for the same reasons. Just remember to reflect on these cravings so you can figure out their true cause. Most likely you simply need to eat more.
Don’t forget to eat enough calories.
Cravings for your former favourite foods doesn’t mean you are deficient in protein, iron, calcium, etc. When your body needs calories it craves the foods you’ve eaten before. Craving a cheeseburger doesn’t mean your body is deficient in protein or fat, it just means your body needs calories so it craves whichever foods you used to eat regularly. If you eat sufficient calories and a varied diet, you do not need to worry about a nutritional deficiency. Track your food intake in Cronometer if you want peace of mind.