One of the most common questions I get asked by folks who are new to the ketogenic diet and lifestyle is how to deal with cravings. Typically, those cravings show in the form of sugar.
And that makes total sense. Most people who choose keto have spent a large part of their lives eating sugar, processed carbs, and the like. Giving that up can cause some serious withdrawals. Not only that, but as the saying goes, “Old habits are hard to break.”
Not everyone has the same kinds of cravings, though. Some people crave salty foods, chips, popcorn, crackers, etc. Some crave pizza, french fries, or mac and cheese. Whatever the cravings, it’s important to understand one thing: Why?
The first, and most important, thing you need to assess is WHY are you experiencing cravings. I cannot stress this enough. If you don’t get to the bottom of why, you are not going to succeed in beating the cravings.
You have to understand that, most of the time, cravings aren’t real. They are the result of boredom or habit. Before keto, when you ate like a sick, fat person, you would often eat when you were bored. When you did this, you started to reinforce that boredom by feeding it with food. That’s also a habit. So when you give up the horrible foods, your brain isn’t done with the reality you have trained it to understand. This is a psychological craving.
So you crave the same things that you used to crave. Fortunately, this kind of craving is the simplest to deal with. You might not like the answer, but the reality is, you just have to ignore it. You’re bored. You’re not going to die if you don’t eat the gross foods that made you fat, lazy, and foggy. You’re just going to have to take the time to build a better, more healthier habit.
However, there are some physiological cravings that occur, too. Physiological cravings are real. They are a way for your body to tell you what you are missing. These cravings are important, and you should pay attention to them.
Before I go on, I want to make sure you understand the difference. This is important. Make sure you are really honest with yourself about whether or not you are craving stuff out of boredom and habit. Everything else hinges on this determination. You have to be BRUTALLY honest with yourself. Nobody else but you can make the determination, and you have to deal with it. So if you aren’t ready, willing, or able to be honest with yourself, you’re going to fail. Period.
Okay, so now for the physiological cravings.
If you’re craving salty foods, like chips and pizza
You may need tryptophan or chloride. Munch on cheese, unsalted cottage cheese, fish, or spinach (add salt).
If you’re craving chocolate
You may need magnesium. It’s important to make sure you keep a good amount of salt (sodium, potassium, and magnesium) in your diet (at least 2 tsp/day) anyway. However, if you crave chocolate, eat…chocolate. That’s right. Chocolate…but not just any kind. You MUST make sure you eat 75% or higher DARK chocolate. Do not, DO NOT eat milk chocolate. Dark chocolate only, and the darker, the better.
If you’re craving sugary snacks and starches like donuts and bread
You might be dehydrated. Drink some water (lots of water).
If you’re craving carbonated beverages
You might need to increase your mineral intake. Have some spinach, kale, or collard greens.
Okay, so that’s some specific advise about some specific cravings. But there is one thing you can eat, no matter what you’re craving, in order to curb the cravings.
If you load up on good fats (coconut oil, butter, animal fats, avocados, macadamia nuts, and olive oil) you will satiate yourself, curb all your hunger, and train yourself to associate the cravings with good fat intake.
All of those are good things.