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November 8, 2011

Attack of the Cravings: My Top 5 Preemptive Cheats

It happens to all of us–we get cravings for sweet, salty, fruity, chewy, crunchy, cheesy, whatever it is. And the more we hold out and use every ounce of willpower we can muster to avoid giving in, the more difficult it becomes to think about anything else.  For many, they might soon say eff-it and indulge in whatever they have been avoiding and jump off the deep end into a whole package of Oreos.

BUT, what about another/better alternative? Which is, to have something just as satisfying, but without going overboard–I call this a “preemptive cheat”–something that takes away a craving and prevent overindulgences later on–but is more waistline friendly. Eating something preemptively that will satisfy, but not completely hijack your fat loss efforts.

Granted for some people, this approach just won’t work–Jade is more likely to either want to abstain completely OR eat a whole, real piece of cheesecake or slice of New York style pizza instead of “half-assing it,” but for me, preemptive cheats helps me stay on track throughout the week and avoid a major binge later. I guess this is the definition of moderation?

Here are my 5 go-to preemptive cheats that help me stay on track, but don’t impact my fat loss efforts:

1) Guacamole or avocado.

How good are these?? Yet, when we are “dieting” all of a sudden they become off-limits: “too much fat!” Really? But just because you’re eating guacamole doesn’t mean you need to be dipping chips into it or eating it as part of a seven-layer cheese dip. Try instead using 1/2 cup of fresh guacamole as the “dressing” on a salad. YUM! Or adding a few slices (1/2) of an avocado to your salad. Talk about satisfying! Plus, the fat in the avocado takes longer to digest so you will feel fuller for longer and more satisfied. Because these are higher in fats (monounsaturated), be sure to keep your portion sizes in check. Half of an avocado is perfect.

2) Nut butters.

For some people, they can go WAY overboard on nuts and nut butters to the point where they are killing a whole jar of PB in a matter of days–not the best approach for fat loss–and if you know that this is you, probably best to either buy individual packets (like from Justin’s) to keep it to one serving, or just by-pass them altogether.

But, for most people, nuts and nut butters satiate like crazy–meaning that a small amount (say, one huge spoonful) is all that is needed to feel satisfied. When I was prepping for my first competition, I was doing a mostly Paleo-type plan for the last 4 weeks, but every night I would go into the fridge and pull one huge spoonful of PB (as much as I could fit on the spoon), and that was it. I felt satisfied and it was enough to get me to the next night (sorry to my trainer who, to whom at the time I did not confess this!). Still, I use this sometimes when I am jonesing for something, but don’t want to go all-out. One huge spoonful of PB per day usually does it. Once again, nuts and nut butters are higher in fat so stick to serving sizes as much as possible.

3) Breakfast meats.

Yes, bacon and sausage ;) I get happy talking about these, ha! Anyway, anyone who has even gone out to breakfast with me knows that I always get some form of breakfast meat–whether it’s sausage, bacon, turkey bacon, Canadian bacon, etc. These satisfy me because though they are not the leanest food choices, they are higher in fat and provide protein–a recipe for satiety. Don’t go overboard, but adding bacon to an omelette or getting a side of sausage links at breakfast a few times a week will not completely derail your efforts, but will help you feel satisfied and stay on track. My typical out-to-breakfast meal: egg white omelet with veggies, side of asparagus and side of link sausage–I’m in heaven. PLUS, I am not hungry for at least another 4-5 hours! Protein and fat will do that to you.

4) Coffee with cream (with natural sweetener like stevia or xylitol).

For those of you who have read my blog for a while, you know that I love cream in my coffee and it is one of the few “indulgences” I have on a regular basis. It is my daily “ahhh” moment. I might do black coffee pre-workout and then coffee with cream and sweetener with/after breakfast. Cream, such as half & half, or better yet, coconut creamer, are just fine as preemptive cheats. If having a tbsp or two of half & half in your coffee will satisfy and prevent overindulging later on much worse options, then go for it.

5) Sugar-free items.

I usually have 1-2 sugar-free treats during any normal week if I am really craving sweet or chocolate, such as a piece of sugar-free chocolate or a small sugar-free frozen yogurt. You will need to watch out for maltitol, a sugar alcohol, because too much of it can cause gas, bloating or other GI issues. Once you have one bad experience will maltitol, you learn to respect it :)

Keep in mind that these treats, though sugar-free, still contain calories, and sometimes even more calories because they can be higher in fat, which is why keeping this to 1-2x/week is key–not everyday. Here are some of our favorite sugar-free treats :)


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