7 ways to curb your bad food habits

A nutrition expert shares her best advice

Feeling guilty about reaching for a delicious slab of chocolate, especially around the 3pm mark? Your sweet cravings could mean so much more than a love of the creamy taste. In fact, certain bad food cravings can actually be a sign that your body is hungry for a particular vitamin or healthy nutrients: Anxiety, neurotic behaviours,an inability to cope with stress and overwhelming urges to eat the entire contents of the fridge or pantry may be your body’s way of trying to tell you something.

“Emotional outbursts, anxiety, mood disorders, obsessive routines and neurotic behaviour such as overreacting to certain situations and physical responses such as panic attacks, nail picking, nail biting, hair pulling and even eating disorders may be a sign that your body is deficient in a certain vitamin or specific nutrients,” says Fiona Tuck, Nutritional Medicine practitioner, forensic nutritionist and accredited member of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society.

Here, the nutrition expert shares her best advice for curbing the cravings to achieve a healthier mind and body.

1

Cut back on caffeine

Stimulants like coffee can be a big contributing factor to the foods you want to eat through the day. “Stimulants increase the adrenal hormones that may over-stimulate the nervous system, thereby heightening anxiety levels,” says Tuck.

2

Try a test

A food allergy test may give you clues as to what you can and can’t eat. “Sometimes symptoms of anxiety can be indicative of an underlying food intolerance,” says Tuck.

3

Watch your carbs

You know to pick low GI carbohydrates to prolong energy release in your body, but did you know that they can also decrease your food cravings? Tuck recommends you “cut back on refined carbohydrates such as white bread, rice, pasta, sugar and alcohol: These foods can cause fluctuations in our blood sugar and our moods and are low in nutrients.”

Highly processed and high-sugar foods can rob the body of further vitamins and nutrients, thereby increasing stress on the nervous system and the likelihood of further sugar and carbohydrate cravings.
Fiona Tuck
/
Nutritionist

4

Steer away from processed foods

Anything you buy from a packet can contain lots of nasties that cause your body to want even more unhealthy foods. “Cut back on packaged, processed foods such as packet sauces, cereals, processed meats, frozen meals and fizzy drinks,” says Tuck. “These tend to be highly processed, high in salt and sugar, and low in vitamins and nutrients.”

5

Try tryptophan

Tuck recommends adding a special ingredient to supercharge your diet to prevent bad food habits. “Tryptophan, an amino acid, is required for the production of mood-enhancing, stress-busting serotonin,” explains Tuck. “Tryptophan is found in most protein-rich foods, namely nuts, seeds, tofu, cheese, red meat, chicken, turkey, fish, oats, beans, bananas, lentils, and eggs.”

6

Add vitamins

Another vitamin that’s a must-have in your daily diet is vitamin B. “Vitamin B-rich foods can help support the nervous system, reduce symptoms of anxiety and curb carb cravings,” says Tuck. You’ll find vitamin B in bananas, avocados, zucchini, whole grains, eggs, poultry, lean meat and dairy.

When we are low in vitamin B6 (a vitamin required for healthy neurotransmitter function and serotonin production), we often crave breads, pastas and high-carb foods.
Fiona Tuck
/
Nutritionist

7

Eat more greens

In particular, a vitamin like magnesium is a must when you’re trying to eat healthy. “Increase fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet,” says Tuck. “Aim to eat veggies with every meal and include lots of leafy greens that are particularly high in vitamins like magnesium. Magnesium helps to keep us feeling calm and relaxed and can help to limit coffee and chocolate cravings.”

Main image credit: Instagram @jessicabiel

Further up your health and vitamin game with our guide to eating all the best superfoods.

 

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