Many people try to use willpower to improve their diet and lose weight. Unfortunately, most people end up failing because it is very difficult to maintain a self-induced willpower over an extended period of time.

Consider a different approach instead. Within your very cravings lie the keys to unlock true success for long-term health and weight loss. Trust and understand that the body is a brilliant machine that needs certain ingredients to run well. If you start to give your body what it needs, you will notice that your cravings will lesson considerably.

For example, if you eat too much animal protein, you may start to notice sugar cravings. This is because your body wants to maintain a pH balance of 7.0 and it will continually try to adjust to reach this level. The Chinese philosophy of yin and yang comes into play with cravings. Animal protein is very yang, so you may crave yin foods such as sugar if your body is out of balance. Another example would be if you regularly crave fatty foods like ice cream or fried foods, this could be your body letting you know that you need to introduce more healthy fats into your diet such as nuts and avocados.

Many people get frustrated and feel out of control with their cravings, which can lead to negative thinking because they feel they are weak and have no willpower. This is not the case. The body is actually very logical. You just need to know how to work together with it.

It helps to simplify nutrition. The key is to get a healthy supply of vitamins and minerals from varied food sources, because the body was made to extract nutrients from real food. The more natural foods you put into your body (whole grains, greens, vegetables, fruit, beans, naturally raised meats), the less cravings you will experience. Did you read this last sentence and say, “But I don’t like any of these foods!” That’s OK. You can start very slowly, over time introducing these foods and you will notice that your cravings lessen.

Many people are overwhelmed with making changes to their diet. But remember, the reason you eat fast food, processed foods and desserts is because you have an intense craving. If you remove the nutritional reason behind the craving, you will find that you naturally opt for healthier foods.

In addition to learning how to give your body the nutrients it needs, there is another key component to understanding your cravings. Let me share an example. If you have a terrible day at work, do you think you will arrive home and want to eat salmon, brown rice and green beans? I doubt it. You might instead mindlessly eat whatever you have available in the cupboards or refrigerator. So your emotional well being is tied to your cravings.

There are four key areas to focus on when you want to reduce your cravings: career, exercise, spirituality and relationships. If these areas in your life are not going well, you may find that you’re not eating healthy. If you want to be in a relationship and you are single, you may eat an entire sleeve of Girl Scout cookies to get some sweetness in your life. If you hate your job, you may decide to stop off for happy hour instead of going home and eating a good meal. The philosophy of yin and yang also applies to lifestyle. For example, if your day was too yang (too busy and stressful) you are likely to crave yin foods such as alcohol.

Many people want overnight results when it comes to reaching their health goals, but unfortunately this approach rarely creates long-term, healthy habits. Take it slow. Set small, achievable goals and continue to move forward. Health is not a destination – it’s a journey and a lifestyle.

Maggie Christopher is a certified holistic nutrition counselor and a licensed marriage and family therapist. She combines the wisdom of whole foods nutrition along with emotionally-based therapy to support individuals in uncovering and healing the root causes of their cravings. She provides a safe environment to explore the emotional reasons for the eating habits that prevent you from reaching your health goals. She offers step-by-step guidance and delicious recipes that support you in introducing whole natural foods that promote health, calm cravings and allow you to feel satisfied. For a free nutrition consultation, visit her website or call.

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