By Ghanim al-Sulaiti
The number of people choosing to eat a plant-based diet is increasing every year. With the recent surge of new plant-based products hitting the store shelves, it’s becoming easier for an average person to do. Many people find as they transition into a new way of eating, or if they follow a strict plant-based diet, begin to experience cravings during the day that push your body and brain into thinking about satisfying the craving with the nearest available food option. But the goal with cravings from a certified plant-based point of view is quite clear: we want to avoid cravings. We want to crush them, and replace them with true plant-based satisfaction.
Cravings are not triggered by the food, they are triggered by your thoughts about that food. Getting to the bottom of these thoughts is very helpful in understanding and overcoming your cravings. If you can examine your thoughts, you will be able to determine where there are areas in your plant-based eating that can be improved. Whether this means a bigger, more nutritious breakfast, or added focus on ensuring your lunch is providing you with enough plant-based goodness to fuel your body for an energetic afternoon.
To crush cravings, we must focus on consuming foods full of fibre — wholesome foods, whole ingredients, and whole meals.
Packaged and prepared foods contain preservatives (such as salt), flavourings, and other unwanted additives that only leave you craving for more. This kind of fast food is designed to addict you and keep you coming back for more. What you need to do is take control: create delicious meals using whole plant foods. Ensure you’re using as many authentic ingredients as possible. As I said: Whole foods. Whole meals.
Dehydration can also cause cravings, so water-rich fruits like apples, mangoes, and grapes are great to have on hand. More calorie dense fruits like bananas, dates, raisins, or other dried fruits can also be helpful to prevent cravings.
It’s also worth highlighting the following: we can crush cravings by recognising that vegan meals should typically be larger than others. This is because a lot of plant-based foods are just lower in calories than their animal-based equivalents. Foods rich in fibre take longer to digest, and they help control your blood sugar levels. This will help you feel fuller for longer, while allowing you to benefit from a hearty, healthy meal as opposed to quick craving snacks which have no real long-term benefit other than just a quick fix.
When you are planning meals, think about foods like avocados, or potatoes. Potatoes have the highest score of any food on the ‘satiety index,’ which measures how full a food makes you feel, per calorie.
In addition, studies have shown that if we slow down when eating — our body better absorbs what goes in. Scientists believe soup makes people feel more satiated (full) than the same amount of food in a different form. The researchers believed that the satiety impact was due to the fact that people are forced to eat soup slowly due to the temperature and the form it takes. Eating slowly allows your feelings of fullness to catch up to how much food you’ve actually eaten.
One final thought on cravings — Plant based nutritionist Dr Joel Fuhrman’s writes about how eating a whole-food plant-based diet leads you to feel ‘true hunger’ rather than being food addicted like most people are. Feeling a little lighter after your meals as opposed to the heaviness you may have experienced before is definitely one of the potential benefits of going vegan.
With whole foods, whole meals, and the right ingredients — there are ways to crush cravings and ensure you’re keeping your body genuinely topped up with whole plant-based goodness.
* The author is an expert in vegan wellbeing and health. Instagram handle: @Ghanim92
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