How to Curb Cravings while Dieting

by Samantha Shorkey
January 2014

Well it’s now January—the start of a new year and the most depressing month of all (in rainy Vancouver anyway.) It’s also the time of year when every gym is packed full of new people regretting their holiday food choices and wanting to make positive change in their lives. The “new year resolutioners” bless their optimistic hearts. I can sort of relate as January marks the start of my next competition prep. **Sigh** Goodbye delicious vegan desserts, bourbon on the rocks and social life. Hello treadmill, piles of sweaty gym clothes strewn across my apartment floor and hair that never leaves a damp ponytail atop my head.

For those of you who don’t yet know me, my name is Samantha Shorkey, author of “Jacked on the Beanstalk: Plant-Based Fuel for Vegan Athletes.” I am an all-natural vegan bikini competitor from Vancouver, British Columbia and my claim to (vegan) fame was winning first place in my first-ever fitness competition.

I am extremely excited to now join the illustrious Plantbuilt team and compete alongside some of my biggest vegan bodybuilding heroes later on this year. In addition to competing with this badass team in Texas (July 2014), I’m also gearing up to compete at the BC Provincial Bodybuilding Championships in June where a top five placing then earns me a spot at Nationals!

Though I don’t really believe in “new year resolutions,” I know that my diet and fitness regimens will change drastically over the next six months as I aim to bring an even better plant-powered package to the stage in 2014. For me (and most people) the toughest part to losing weight is sticking to a strict (and incredibly boring) diet—hence why everyone always claims that “diets” don’t work.

For me, they do. But truth is, I have a brutal sweet tooth. I can polish off an entire bag of vegan chocolate chips, 30 Medjool dates AND a tub of peanut butter in one sitting. But alas, my competition diet does not allow any of these food luxuries. So I attempt to strength-train my mind even more than my muscles. And I’m going to share with you, my top 10 tricks to curb those cravings and actually stick to your own diet plan.

Get the “forbidden” foods out of the house.
This is a big one and I cannot stress it enough! If you (like me) don’t have the best self-control, don’t torture yourself with treat-filled cupboards. If I’m being really strict, I don’t even keep peanut butter or dates in the house. Out of sight, out of mind. If you really want a treat, go to the store and buy ONE. Eat it, savour it, be done with it and move on.

Drink as much water as humanly possible.
We’ve all heard this one before but I’m saying it again because it’s THAT true. Often times, hunger gets confused with thirst. It’s so important to stay hydrated so you can know the difference between “actual” hunger and dehydration. Aim to drink at least 2 – 3 liters per day. I never leave home without “purse water” either. I also recommend drinking a big glass of water before every meal to help fill you up.

Make herbal tea your new best friend.
I always want to pig out at night time. It’s always when I’m bored at home, lounging in my pyjamas and the thought of sitting on the couch with a tub of So Delicious dairy-free ice cream just sounds so damned comforting. But alas, I know I can’t so how do I fill that need? With a crap load of “sweet” herbal tea of course! Nowadays, the variety of tea flavours available are abundant in flavour. My faves are vanilla hazelnut or dark chocolate chai with a bit of unsweetened vanilla almond milk. I make a big ass mug, sip it slowly then try my best to pretend it’s cake.

Prepare your meals in advance.
When I’m trying to cut weight, I dedicate a day each week to preparing all of my meals for the week. I make my food in big batches and will boil a pot of oatmeal, brown rice and/or quinoa, pre-wash and chop up all my veggies, pre-cook tofu, tempeh & veggie burgers and pre-roast my veggies, yams or squash.

Keep food with you at all times.
It’s that much easier to eat unhealthy foods when you’re not at home and hunger strikes. Even things you think are healthy could be loaded with sugar or salt. When you keep snacks with you at all times, you have no excuse to stray from your meal plan. My go-tos are single serving packages of plain oatmeal/protein powder, apples, raw green beans or plain almonds.

Go for a walk, stretch, foam roll, do some crunches—anything active for 10 minutes.
There have been times when I’m craving sweets and/or carbs like a crack fiend and I’m literally pacing back and forth in my apartment—to the fridge, opening up cupboards—using every ounce of self-control to not give into temptation. Times like these, I just grab my sneakers and get the hell out of the house! A walk around my neighbourhood is extremely therapeutic and almost always distracts me from devouring that tub of almond butter in my fridge. I find a quick yoga DVD or good foam rolling session has a similar effect.

Post motivational signs on your fridge, cupboards—anywhere you can think of!
We’re all human and it’s so easy to just say “screw it” and eat whatever we want. What helped me the most during my competition prep was motivational signs on my fridge and kitchen cupboards to deter me from pigging out on all those extra carbs calling my name. Reading things over and over like “do not give up what you want most for what you want right now” or “suffer the pain of discipline or suffer the pain of regret” really helped me to stay on track.

Write down how you’re feeling and why you feel the need to eat junk food.
I’ve never been one to keep a food journal but I really try to listen to my inner conversations around food. It’s so important to feel your feelings when you’re considering eating things you shouldn’t be. Are you actually hungry or just bored? For me, I just love the comforting act of baking. Be aware of the “why” you’re eating always. Ask yourself are you wanting to eat due to physical hunger or filling an emotional need? Often times, when you write down the emotions behind the cravings, you’ll discover there’s a lot more to it than just wanting a cookie for the sake of eating a cookie.

If you’re about to commit late night carbicide, just go to bed.
First off, did you know that when you’re sleep-deprived, you’re most definitely going to be craving sugar, bad carbs and fat even more than usual? Why do you NEED to pig out before bed? If you really need to eat something, have a protein shake or drink a glass of water then try to go to sleep. Not only will proper sleep prevent sugar cravings but your body actually recovers during sleep and that’s when your muscles grow! You also burn the most fat at night time! The best training routine, diet and supplement program will not compensate for insufficient amounts of rest and repair.

If you REALLY want a cookie, have the damn cookie.
Everything in moderation is perfectly fine. And if it will truly make you happier and completely satisfied to eat that dessert or drink that glass of wine, then just do it. I actually ate vegan ice cream, deep fried vegetables AND French fries just 10 days before my competition! I felt horrible about it but a friend was visiting and I wanted to enjoy time with them so I did! One bad meal isn’t going to make you gain weight just like one good meal isn’t going to make you lose weight.

And there you have it! Here’s to a fit & healthy 2014 for all of us! For those interested in what my vegan bikini competitor diet looks like, you can check out my eBook at https://gumroad.com/l/Jacked and follow my contest prep via my facebook page at www.facebook.com/JackedontheBeanstalk

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5 Responses to How to Curb Cravings while Dieting

  1. Reyna Brown January 27, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

    I love you, Sam! You have great advice and tips. You’re such an inspiration to me! I’m in the “off-season” right now and trying to build but when it comes time to start peeling the fat off I will use some of these tips! Thank you.

    • Sam Shorkey January 29, 2014 at 2:45 am #

      Awwww thanks girl! Love hearing the feedback! And keep me posted on how it goes!

  2. RZ January 31, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    thank you so much for writing this! i have a massive sweet tooth, too, and this article really helped put things in perspective for me. i think many people must feel like they are the only ones fighting with themselves over food, giving in, then feeling horrible about it. all of these tips and information will help me a lot!

    • Sam Shorkey March 5, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

      Aww thanks for sharing, RZ!! Believe me, anyone who has ever dieted can relate! Especially those of us who are working out like maniacs and have the appetites to eat everything in sight. Glad you found the article useful. Good luck with everything!

  3. Brenda November 22, 2015 at 11:42 pm #

    Thank you so much for this article! I am going to save it for reference. I am prepping for my first show 3 weeks in about 18 weeks to go but I am having the hardest time with my diet that is my weakness I am fine on my own but when someone offers or brings it to me its down hill. Since I live with my parents everyone brings over the temptations and don’t understand how important prepping for this show is to me. 🙁 I am really trying I am going to take some of your suggestions

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