Empowering Ways to Beat Cravings to Lose Weight and Lower Blood Sugar

November 15, 2023

Health Coach Q & A

Post menopause I’m finding I have less cravings now then before.

That’s a great finding! Having less cravings can make it easier to make nutritious choices. Plus, it’s wonderful that you’re in tune with your body! 

For many people, cravings are higher post-menopause. That’s often attributed to lower estrogen levels. Estrogen tends to reduce cravings and hunger, and increase satiety, and estrogen levels are lower post-menopause. (Changes in estrogen levels are also linked to changes in cravings during the menstrual cycle, too).

There are other changes after menopause that can be challenging, too. Sleep can be more difficult, and muscle mass may be reduced. It’s even more important to keep up the healthy habits you’re building to support your body after menopause!

Is there an option to work with a nutritionist to come up with sample menus with food that you enjoy?

Yes, you can always connect with a Lark nutritionist! Just email coaching@lark.com for 1:1 support. You can also join the Facebook group (), where a nutritionist is there every day, and live twice a week (5-6 pm PST/8-9 pm EST) to answer any questions.

You can also look through our blog posts with sample menus and meal plans. Here are a few.

https://www.lark.com/resources/7-day-balanced-meal-plan

https://www.lark.com/resources/printable-meal-plan-for-weight-loss-with-fiber-and-whole-grains

https://www.lark.com/resources/7-day-nutritious-meal-plan-for-weight-loss

https://www.lark.com/resources/healthy-meal-plans-for-prediabetes

Portion sizes are my downfall.

Yes, that is definitely common and challenging! Our general answer to that is: vegetables! Usually, you can have tons of non-starchy vegetables for very few calories. That way, you can fill up.

So, if you’re having a high-calorie food, whether it’s something nutritious like peanut butter or avocado, or something less healthy like fried chicken, try having less. Fill up most of your plate with steamed or roasted vegetables, or a salad, and squeeze a small portion of that high-calorie food onto the side of your plate. Finish your plate before going up for second helpings, and do the same thing: have mostly vegetables. 

Since when is cheese not healthy? There are some that are.

Cheese can definitely be healthy, especially varieties that are high in calcium and protein! The main issue with cheese is having oversized portions to satisfy a craving, like several slices as a standalone meal, rather than 1 ounce as part of a balanced meal. 

Cheese can be high in calories and fat. Your best bet for weight loss is to keep portions small. Most guidelines also suggest having reduced-fat cheese to cut calories and saturated fat. 

Does caffeine cause cravings to be worse?

Caffeine can affect cravings, but…it can increase OR decrease them! Caffeine may act as an appetite suppressant (reduces hunger). It may also increase fat burning. 

On the other hand, it can increase cortisol levels. It may affect insulin sensitivity. Caffeine could increase cravings. 

So, the effects of caffeine on one individual may be different from the effect on someone else!

 My biggest issue is in the middle of the night. I get up and look for food. Sometimes a couple to three times a night.

That can be tough and frustrating! One strategy might be to close your kitchen. Lock or tape up the fridge and pantry if you can, and put up a sign that says, “Closed,” to remind you. Also, you can try having an alternative activity, away from the kitchen, set up somewhere for when you can’t sleep. Maybe you can have a warm and cozy chair in your bedroom where you can read if you can’t sleep.

What are the best ways to measure your health? Energy level? Weight? Muscle tone? I think we get hung up on a number on the scale and over-do it.

That’s right - the scale provides just one indicator of how we’re doing. It’s a very important one, especially if we’re trying to lose weight, and especially over weeks and months. However, day to day, the scale may not show true progress. Here are some things you can look for.

  • What you’ve bee eating, which you can see when you log meals
  • Your activity levels and your sleep, which you can log and track
  • Your energy levels
  • Your health measures, like A1C, blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure
  • Fitness measures, like how much you can lift or how fast you can walk or run a mile, or how far you can walk without stopping
  • Your measurements and how your clothes fit

Are you familiar with the fast diet?

This is a bit vague, but it is possible you are asking about an intermittent fasting diet with 5 days of “normal” eating and 2 days of “fasting” per week. If that’s the case, here’s how it works:

  • 5 days per week of eating “normally” - that is, healthy foods that add up to the number of calories that’s the number you need to maintain weight.
  • 2 days per week of “fasting” - that is, eating 500-600 total calories.
  • Which two days you “fast” are your choice.
  • Foods should generally be nutritious. 

This can help you lose weight because it reduces calories below your maintenance level. However, it’s best to ask your doctor before starting it. It can lead to fatigue, irritability, trouble sleeping, difficulty focusing, and headaches. 

Is there a good website or book for healthy recipes?

Lark doesn’t endorse particular sites or books. Generally, you can look at choosemyplate.gov for a variety of recipes and menus. Lark also has some blog posts with food ideas. Here are a few examples.

https://www.lark.com/resources/best-prediabetes-meal-plan-with-recipes

https://www.lark.com/resources/12-heart-healthy-breakfast-ideas

https://www.lark.com/resources/10-fast-food-breakfasts-that-can-fit-into-your-weight-loss-plan

https://www.lark.com/resources/best-breakfasts-for-weight-loss-and-health-d

https://www.lark.com/resources/five-healthy-lunches-for-weight-loss-that-are-easy-to-make-at-home

https://www.lark.com/resources/best-quick-and-healthy-packed-lunches-for-weight-loss

https://www.lark.com/resources/30-minute-weeknight-dinners-for-health-and-weight-loss

You’re always welcome to email coaching@lark.com for individualized support!

How do you judge your hunger cues if you don't have physical cues to avoid not waiting too long?

That’s a great question! You are right - it is nearly impossible to judge hunger without external cues! Babies can do it - which is one reason they ask for food all day and all night! But as we grow older, we need to use a combination of environmental cues and internal hunger cues to decide when to eat.

That’s actually one reason why it’s good to eat on a schedule. That helps you set a baseline for your own “normal” pattern. Let’s say you generally eat breakfast at 8am, lunch at noon, snack at 3pm, and dinner at 6pm. If you’re having a “normal” day and you see a stack of pizza boxes at 9:30am, you might realize that you’re probably not physiologically hungry, even if your brain says the pizza looks tasty.

However, let’s say you don’t have a regular eating schedule. When the pizza comes out, and it looks good, you might be more inclined to decide that you’re “hungry” and eat the pizza, even if you don’t truly need those calories. 

So, you’re exactly right. It’s important to have external cues to help us with hunger cues and reminders. The clock can help. Breaks in our day can help. Other people can help, such as when we’re at work and it’s “time for lunch.” 

Still, no matter what external cues say, it’s always best not to eat if we’re not hungry. Even if it’s noon, and that’s our normal lunchtime, and we have a healthy lunch prepared, it’s better not to eat if we aren’t hungry. The more you listen to your body and respect what it says, the louder it will speak and the more it will tell you.

OUR next live webinar

Staying in Tune with Your Mind and Body for Healthier, Happy Holidays

December 6, 2023 12:30 PM
Members of Lark's Diabetes Prevention Program can check your emails for registration information! Not a member? See if you're eligible for live webinar access and more.

Related content you might enjoy:

No items found.