Getting lean (down to <15% body fat) is the primary weight loss goal for almost every dieter. This goal presents us with completely new challenges compared to just getting in a healthy body-weight range.
One of those challenges is dealing with food cravings. Food cravings are a normal part of being in a calorie deficit. As you get deeper into your body fat reserves, these cravings increase exponentially.
The amount of food we consume on a day-to-day basis is declines as we progress deeper into our diet. This induces a scarcity mindset wherein suddenly food is a prized commodity, of much higher value because we can’t have it when we want.
This can create an obsession with food. If not controlled, food will always remain in the forefront of our brain – especially those foods we can’t eat and is off limit.
With any habit change you are endeavoring to achieve, attacking the task with an ‘exclusion’ mindset will only amplify your desire and craving to have it. Promoting elimination and exclusion of certain foods is only going to make it harder to stave them off during those moments of cravings.
Another flaw with the exclusion mindset is that it focuses our mind on what we can’t have rather than helping us focus on what we should have.
Instead of thinking “I can’t eat pizza.” which leads to “Now I suddenly want to eat pizza.” we may think, “What’s the best possible source of nutrition to deal with my cravings for carbohydrate or sugar or salt?”
What’s the best possible food? How can I treat my body the way it deserves with proper nutrition instead of always thinking what to avoid?
Why not go for the best possible option because you want to take care of yourself instead of always thinking of deprivation.
Shift to an inclusion mindset – where no food is ‘banned’ as such from your diet. You can have what you crave on the odd day (once a fortnight for example) to keep the cravings at bay.
This is commonly referred to as a cheat or re-feed day. This is a technique that can be effective to avoid binge eating, rebounding and falling off your diet.
When we start focusing on “inclusion” and maximizing nutrient density all these options appear. Our mind is freed up to think of appropriate alternatives that don’t sabotage the diet as much. For example: substituting fruit for chocolate to satisfy sugar craving.
We’re no longer thinking from the standpoint of scarcity. Our food decisions aren’t based on fear or deprivation but now it’s about making the best decision. This mindset shift helped me tremendously with getting lean and I’m sure it will help you too.
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