‘Urge surf’ past those food cravings

Urge surfing is a technique that can help you avoid eating when you feel hungry.

Dr. Laura Falvey
May 13, 2023

Whilst cravings When it comes to health, there's an additional layer of complexity for women: the hormone cycle.

When it comes to health, there's an additional layer of complexity for women: the hormone cycle.

Women’s menstrual cycles are characterised by fluctuations in hormones, including oestrogen and progesterone. These hormones significantly influence metabolism, energy levels, and even food cravings as they change. Oestrogen particularly may play a unique role across the cycle with regards to fasting, as it affects the body’s ability to use stored energy and suppress appetite. In reality, this means that you may crave more salty/sweet high energy foods in the days leading up to your period.

It’s important to be aware that undertaking fasts that are too long can lead to inadequate calorie and nutrient intake and cause hormonal imbalances at any stage of the menstrual cycle - potentially affecting menstrual regularity and overall health.

However, small studies have indicated that TRE could lead to an improvement in regulating the menstrual cycle in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition that affects up to 10% of women of childbearing age. These benefits can contribute to a more regular menstrual cycle and alleviate symptoms associated with hormonal imbalances.
Reaching for refined carbs when you’re feeling tired and burned out, can make you feel better because of the increase in serotonin, but the effect is short lived. As we know, an excess of these carbohydrate and sugar rich foods do not help our metabolic health. So what can we do to help you at this time? 

Firstly, be kind to yourself. Understand that sometimes, despite our wishes, our hormones can sway our behaviour. Speak to those around you that you are close to, work out those feelings. Ensure that you are hydrated, even more so than usual aiming for 2.5-3L of water a day and taking pain relief medication if needed.

and hunger pangs are to be expected, the reason these occur is because our bodies have grown to expect us to eat throughout the day. However, now that you are fasting, your body isn’t anticipating this change and still expects food to be on the way. 

Therefore, we experience hunger because our bodies have already released enzymes and acids in preparation for the meal we are now missing. Since this meal never arrives, your body is left with a feeling of emptiness. This is what hunger is.

Remember: our bodies have more than enough nutrients from the previous evening’s meal to make it to the end of the fasting period. Also remember, the hunger is temporary, and will only last about 20 minutes.

Remember to break your fast if you are feeling unwell or stressed. If you are feeling the need for something sweet, don’t fear, here are some things you can do

  • A small amount of dark chocolate during your eating windows
  • A hot, sweet tasting drink—why not try rooibos with vanilla without milk or herbal teas.
  • Chia pudding with sweet berries and nut butter

What is urge surfing?

Urge surfing is a technique that can help you avoid eating when you feel hungry. Here are a few things you can do to fight the urge to eat:
  • Mindfully drink a glass of water to reach your daily goal of 8 cups. 
  • Get up and make a mug of herbal tea or black coffee (remember, no milk or sweeteners!
  • Head out on a short walk, stretch, and move your body in some way.
  • Get involved in a task that requires attention and uses your hands (cleaning, sorting and tidying are great for this).

Set the timer for fifteen to twenty minutes and tell yourself you can think about that craving afterwards. What you will likely find is that after this time passes, the urge to eat declines, and you can get back to what you were doing.

So what's next?

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