My problems with weight-loss started when I moved to live in the United States. I was 10 years old.
American junk food was so new to me, and also so delicious! Unfortunately I was too young to know that eating whatever I craved would have consequences.
Over the years, I lost and gained weight back. I tried diet after diet just like everyone else. Nothing new there.
It wasn’t until one day while I was doing my frequent “how to lose weight” google searches, that I learned who Dr. McDougall was.
I watch a YouTube video of his explaining what ‘The Starch Solution’ is, and I was instantly hooked (I highly recommend that you click the link so that you can watch it too)!
That’s when the whole world of veganism first opened up to me.
I began eating vegan to lose weight. I thought that just by eating vegan I could lose weight, unfortunately all I did was replace ‘regular junk food’ with ‘vegan junk food’.
Therefore, the weight was not coming off. But I knew in my heart that being vegan was the right thing to do. I was not going to ever go back to eating animal products.
I was determined to make this work! This is where the journey.
It was also because of Dr. McDougall that I learned my first lesson on how to overcome cravings. And along the way I learned many others. All which I will be sharing with you today, so keep reading!
Secret #1 To Stop Craving Junk Food: The Indigestible Carbohydrate
On average Americans eat less than half of their daily suggested intake of this carbohydrate.
Fortunately, for us vegans it is a carbohydrate that it isn’t hard to get at all because it is naturally found in plant-based foods.
What makes this carbohydrate unique is that it cannot be broken down into digestible sugar molecules.
However, as it goes in and out of bodies it goes lots of good things along the way. One of them being aiding in weight-loss!
Ok, so are you ready for it….drum roll please….
As an adult, we should be getting between 25 to 38 grams of fiber everyday. It depends on your age and gender. Are you getting enough fiber?
Now you might be asking: what foods have fiber in them? The answer: LOTS!
Ok, ok, I’ll be more specific. Here is a list of some of the best fiber containing foods:
- Chia seeds (10.6g / 1oz)
- Pumpkin seeds(3g / 1/2cup)
- Dark chocolate (3.1g / 1oz)…my personal favorite…shhh
- Oats (4g / 1/2cup)
- Black beans (15g / 1cup)
- Artichoke (10.3g / 1fruit)
- Avocado (9g / 1/2fruit)
- Air-popped Popcorn (1.2g / 1cup)…a fun one for you
- Raspberries (8g / 1cup)
- Figs (8g / 1/2cup)
As you can see there is fiber is fruits, vegetables, grains, and even healthy fats. So how is it possible that we are not getting enough fiber in our diets?
This is all that we are suppose to be eating as vegans!
If you are fiber deficient, then you need to take a second look at what you are eating throughout the day. This may be the reason why you aren’t losing weight on a vegan diet.
I think I know what you are thinking next: “how does eating fiber help me lose weight and with food cravings?”
First of all, I’ll say this: studies have shown that people who are at their ideal weight have in fact a higher intake of dietary fiber than people who are obese.
Coincidence? I think not!
Here is the reason: food that has fiber in it help to make you feel full without having to eat too many calories. This is because these foods tend to be lower in energy density.
Fiber makes you full!
And now you know why sometimes you feel hungry again an hour or two after you eaten, and then start craving vegan junk food. It’s because the food you eat probably didn’t have enough fiber in it.
Doesn’t it sound like heaven? To feel full and therefore eat less throughout the day. That is the magic of fiber!
Your Do To Today: eat more food with lots of fiber.
However you need to be careful on how you are consuming your fiber. When I first started to try and get more fiber in my diet, I took a shortcut, and it backfired on me!
I don’t want you to make the same mistake I did, so continue reading to secret #2.
Secret #2 To Stop Craving Junk Food: Don’t Drink Your Calories
My cravings continued. So don’t try and take shortcuts!
If you haven’t already guessed what I started doing…I was juicing.
As vegans, juicing seems to be a perfect fit. All it requires is fruit and veggies.
It sounds so easy right? I can just thrown-in all my veggies and fruits in a blender, get my fiber for the day, be out the door in no time.
I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but you cannot drink your fiber and calories and expect to not get hungry again in a 2 hours.
If you want to learn all the pros and cons of juicing, I did write a blog post on this topic, which I encourage you to check it: “Can Vegan Juicing Help You Lose Weight? Get The Top Tips!”
Keep in mind that I’m not saying that you can never juice, I myself still do it sometimes, it tastes good and it is definitely better than eating a breakfast sandwich from a fast food restaurant, but there is wrong and right way to do it.
Ok, so here is the funny thing. While I thought that by juicing I would be getting more fiber in my diet, I was in fact, REMOVING THE FIBER.
Shocking! I know! Juicing actually removes the fiber from fruit and veggies. And it doesn’t just remove the fiber, but also other nutrients as well.
To learn more on this topic, Click Here to watch a video from Dr. Greger. He explains the issue more in depth.
So of course my cravings were continuing. I wasn’t getting the fiber I needed in my body, and on top of it all, I was drinking my calories!
Think about it. You are drinking your meals!
How much apple juice would you have to drink so that it makes you as full as actually eating the apple?
The truth is that you will end up consuming more calories by drinking apple juice than if you actually just ate the whole apple.
Liquids empty out of your stomach faster. You could be sipping HUNDREDS of calories everyday!
When you are trying to lose weight, it is better to just eat whole foods.
If you enjoy juicing and maybe have seen results from it, allow me to suggest to eat something that has either protein or fat along with your juice. Because the juice is not providing either.
You could either throw in some vegan protein powder or some coconut oil into your juice (although oil is not something I recommend if you are trying to lose weight).
The reason is because the protein or healthy fat will slow down how quickly your body is breaking the fruit into sugar, and lowers the glycemic load.
Your Do To Today: in order to keep yourself full and stop the cravings, don’t drink your calories. Eat the whole foods instead.
Furthermore, you need to understand that although keeping yourself full will help you stop craving vegan junk food, it is also necessary that you let go of bad old habits.
If you don’t let go of your old habits, you might end up like me at the start of my vegan weight-loss journey, where instead of losing weight, I gained weight! Yes, I gained weight!
That caused me to feel angry at myself. I would look down and poke my squishy belly. I wanted to give-up. I thought that there was nothing I could do to get rid of my cravings for vegan junk food.
I didn’t give up, but I knew I had to take matters into my own hands.
What was one of my bad habits? Read secret #3…
Secret #3 To Stop Craving Junk Food: Get At Least 7 Hours Of Sleep.
I stopped drinking my calories. I started eating lots of whole foods that contain high amounts of fiber.
And then…I let go of my old, bad habits.
One by one, I began to give up.
First of all, I promised to myself that whatever happened, whatever I needed to do or not do, I would get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
I know what you are probably thinking, “it’s so easy for you to say”, “you don’t know how crazy my life is”, “I’m too busy to sleep”, etc, etc.
I said all those things to myself too.
I thought it was impossible. But when I understood the importance of sleep I decided to give it a try.
And I did. And after I did, and noticed the positive results it was having in my body and mind there was not turning back!
My goal is this section of the course is to help you understand how sleep and cravings are connected.
I’m going to get a little medical on you, but stick with me.
When you are craving vegan chips and vegan cookies late at night, or while sitting at your desk at work…you can blame it on your hormones.
First let’s talk about the hormone called leptin.
Leptin is the hunger hormone that tells your body when to stop eating. In essence, it controls how much we eat.
When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies produce less leptin. Therefore, the signal that should be telling our body “I’m full”, gets out of whack.
There is another lesser known hormone called ghrelin.
Ghrelin is the hormone that makes you feel hungry. It controls our cravings. Who knew, right? But is a pretty cool power if you ask me!
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body will make more ghrelin. The more ghrelin your body makes, the hungrier you will feel throughout the day.
It’s amazing how our bodies work. But it is also scary how our bodies can work against us if we don’t treat it right.
Know that you do have control of these hormones.
This is why it’s so important for you to get enough sleep every day!
Your Do To Today: write down what you need to change in your daily routine in order to make more sleep time for yourself. Maybe you need to cut down on Netflix? Instagram? Whatever it is, write it down. No excuses!
Secret #4 To Stop Craving Junk Food: Stop Drinking Alcohol
I actually used to like drinking alcohol a lot.
I used to work at an office where I had coworkers, who like me, liked going to the bar. You know…’happy hours’.
I’m a happy drunk. My personality totally changes when I drink, I become very talkative and outgoing. But in reality, I am an introvert. Very quiet most of the time.
And so I really liked the way alcohol made me become.
And although I knew that alcohol was not good for my overall health, I had no idea that it was increasing my food cravings.
Not too mention, alcohol has a lot of calories.
One beer can have a whooping 180 calories (kind of goes back to my last email about not drinking your calories)!
Maybe you don’t think you have the same problem with alcohol as I did, but is not like I was addicted either, I would refer to as ‘social drinking’.
Believe it or not it is more common than you think.
But once I learned the science behind alcohol and food cravings, I told myself that I would not let myself be tempted into going to the bar with my coworkers anymore.
What alcohol does to our brain is crazy! I can’t wait to tell you all about it. So let’s get to it!
Secret #4 To Stop Craving Junk Food: Stop Drinking Alcohol
It all started with a study scientists performed on laboratory mice.
The mice were given to drink alcohol for 3 days. The scientists were expecting the mices’ appetite to decrease because of how calorie dense alcohol is.
But to their surprise, during those 3 days, the mices’ food intake ““significantly and reversibly increased”!
In this study, it was found that alcohol sends “false starvation alarms” to the brain.
Meaning that your brain will make you think you are hungry, even though your body doesn’t need the extra food.
You see. I told you it was crazy!
I hope that learning about the connection between our brains, alcohol, and cravings will make you think twice next time before you reach for vegan chips and guac.
Your Do To Today: make a commitment to cut alcohol from your diet.
I was definitely learning a lot throughout my weightloss journey. I was also starting to see results.
However there was one last bad habit I knew I needed to give up before I could give up my vegan junk food cravings once and for all.
And this one last bad habit, I know is one that most of you will be able to relate with me.
It’s one that you probably don’t realize you are doing every single day!
Secret #5 To Stop Craving Junk Food: Stop Grazing
I work at an office. I sit all day in a cubicle. And the truth is that most of the time I’m bored.
So what used to happen was that I would have snacks at my desk all the time, and I would just keep eat them throughout the day.
I would eat even if I wasn’t hungry.
I would give into the temptation because the snacks were so readily available, and what better thing to do then to eat if you are bored, right?
However this bad habit was just keeping me from ever reaching my weight-loss goals.
So know you might be asking, “why does grazing cause weight-gain?”
Because you are not keeping track of the amount of calories you are eating.
It’s the same when you are so distracted watching a movie, and before you realize it, you finished the bad of chips.
Grazing causes cravings because you never sit down to have a full meal.
Here is a more scientific reason…
When you’re constantly eating, you’re consistently releasing insulin, which puts your body into its “absorptive phase.”
Basically what this means is that the insulin in your body is storing sugar — and not letting other enzymes in your body release sugar to break down fat.
The goal is for your body to be in “postabsorptive phase,” where it uses your energy stores for sustenance, and burns more fat.
And if you are constantly eating throughout the day, your body will never get to that phase.
Your Do To Today: only eat 3 meals and 1 snack each day. Prepare them ahead of time if you have to so that you aren’t tempted.
Secret #6 To Stop Craving Junk Food: Conquer Your Mindset
Your mindset matters more than anything. Your mindset leads to permanent changes.
For years I struggled with keeping the weight-off. I would lose some pounds and gain some back. Lose it again and gain it back.
It wasn’t until I understood that I needed to conquer my mind and my thoughts that I was finally able to give up all my food cravings.
It wasn’t easy, but I’ve have gotten so good at it now.
At my workplace, when there are cookies, chocolates, bagels just laid out for the employees to grab, I don’t feel tempeted anymore.
My coworkers are always surprised. They always ask me, “how do you do it? I cannot resist the temptation!”
I always respond, “it took me years to get to this point!”
But it doesn’t need to take you years, because I’m telling you what to do now.
No one told me about it. I had to figure it out by myself that the battle was not ‘me vs. food’, it was ‘me vs. me’.
The truth is that we give up too easily when things get hard.
We are capable of so much if we push ourselves.
Your mind is yours only. You can reprogram it to do whatever you want it to do.
Maybe you think that you are trying, but I’m telling you right now, that you are not trying hard enough!
I want you to read or listen to the book “Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds” by David Goggins.
Then come back to me and tell me if you are trying hard enough to give up your cravings and lose weight.
Do you have an accountability mirror?
Your Do To Today: look at yourself in the mirror and hold yourself accountable for your actions. You need to own your actions!
Unless you have a medical condition, there is no excuse why you should not be able to get control of your cravings for junk food and lose weight.
Grow thick skin. If you are overweight, look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself just that.
Because if you just put your head down and do nothing about it, then nothing will change.
I know it’s hard to hear this. But maybe it was time for someone to tell you this.
I had to do this too. And let me tell you that it was worth it. It was the first step I took into changing my relationship with food once and for all.
The mind is so powerful. And it is yours to conquer!
BONUS: To learn how you can further stop your cravings, check out the video below!
Secret #7 To Stop Craving Junk Food: Listen and Observe Your Mind
Try and remember when was the last time that you sat and did nothing.
And when I say did nothing, I don’t mean watching TV, or scrolling through your instagram feed.
I mean did nothing as in you sat in silence, alone, just you and your thoughts.
Can you even think of a time?
And if you can’t, how do you expect to conquer your mindset if you won’t even listen to it?
Some call it deep breathing, others meditation, call it what you may, but you need to start doing it.
Your Do To Today: Choose a time of the day today where you can give yourself at least 15 minutes to do breathing exercises or to meditate.
There is incessant chatter going on in our head every single day. And I’m not asking you to go as far as to try to silent it. I’m asking you to learn to listen to it.
When you listen to your thoughts, you will learn more about yourself, your feelings, and about your body.
If you learn to listen, next time you are feeling tempted to eat junk food, you will hear to that little voice in your head giving you the strength to not do it.
It’s an art. It takes practice. So give yourself some time. It will be worth it.
Lastly, I just want to say that if you give into temptation and eat something you know you shouldn’t have eaten, you need to forgive yourself.
Don’t think “well I slipped-up and ate 1 chocolate so I might as well finish the whole box now”.
Don’t take the easy way out. Again, it’s all in your head.
Today is one day less of your life. Don’t waste it. Make it worth something. Mark your calendar, and make today the first day of the new, improved, and skinner you!
And so my fellow vegans, I leave you with that.