Food cravings are very common. In fact, more than 50% of people experience cravings on a regular basis. Addiction to food, binge eating plays a major role in weight gain.
Being aware of your cravings and their triggers make them much easier to avoid. It also makes it a lot easier to eat healthily and lose weight.
I am sure everyone feels the craving for something or the other every now and then! That I suppose is a natural human desire.
Food craving is an intense or uncontrollable desire for specific foods, stronger than normal hunger. The types of foods that people crave are highly variable, but these are often processed junk foods that are high in sugar.
Now, let us look at a few simple ways to prevent or stop unhealthy food and sugar cravings.
Here’s how you can keep your food cravings at bay
Although, a sudden craving for one type of food is as natural as hunger and eating, craving does not really signal hunger.
That is why it is dangerous to give in to your food cravings every time – the result is always weight gain. But here are a few things you can do to say no to your cravings and stay healthy and fit.
1. Drink plenty of water
Trust me, thirst is often confused with hunger or food cravings. If you feel a sudden urge for a specific food, try drinking a large glass of water and wait a few minutes.
You would notice that the craving fades away because your body was actually just thirsty. Furthermore, drinking plenty of water may have many health benefits.
2. Eat more protein
Eating more protein may reduce your appetite and keep you from overeating. It also reduces cravings and helps you feel full and satisfied for longer. Increasing protein intake may reduce cravings by up to 60% and cut the desire to snack at night by 50%.
3. Distance yourself from the craving
When you feel a craving, try to distance yourself from it. For example, you can take a brisk walk or a shower to shift your mind onto something else.
A change in thought and environment may help stop the craving. Some studies have also shown that chewing gum can help reduce appetite and cravings.
4. Plan your meals
If possible, try to plan your meals for the day or upcoming week. By already knowing what you’re going to eat, you eliminate the factor of spontaneity and uncertainty.
If you don’t have to think about what to eat at the following meal, you will be less tempted and less likely to experience cravings.
5. Avoid getting extremely hungry
Hunger is one of the biggest reasons why we experience cravings. To avoid getting extremely hungry, it may be a good idea to eat regularly and have healthy snacks close at hand.
By being prepared, and avoiding long periods of hunger, you may be able to prevent the craving from showing up at all.
6. Fight stress
Stress may induce food cravings and influence eating behaviors, especially for women. Women under stress have been shown to eat significantly more calories and experience more cravings than non-stressed women.
Furthermore, stress raises your blood levels of cortisol, a hormone that can make you gain weight, especially in the belly area.
Try to minimize stress in your environment by planning ahead, meditating and generally slowing down.
7. Practice mindful eating
Mindful eating is about practicing mindfulness, a type of meditation, in relation to foods and eating. It teaches you to develop awareness of your eating habits, emotions, hunger, cravings, and physical sensations.
Mindful eating teaches you to distinguish between cravings and actual physical hunger. It helps you choose your response, instead of acting thoughtlessly or impulsively.
Eating mindfully involves being present while you eat, slowing down and chewing thoroughly.
8. Get enough sleep
Our appetite is largely affected by hormones that fluctuate throughout the day. Sleep deprivation disrupts the fluctuations and may lead to poor appetite regulation and strong cravings.
Getting good sleep is important to prevent cravings from showing up.
9. Eat proper meals
Hunger and a lack of key nutrients can both cause certain cravings. Therefore, it’s important to eat proper meals at mealtimes. This way, your body gets the nutrients it needs and you won’t get extremely hungry right after eating.
If you find yourself in need of a snack between meals, make sure it’s something healthy. Reach for whole foods, such as fruits, nuts, vegetables or seeds.
10. Don’t go to the supermarket hungry
Grocery stores are probably the worst places to be when you are hungry or have cravings. First, they give you easy access to pretty much any food you could think of. Second, supermarkets usually place the unhealthiest foods at eye level.
The best way to prevent cravings from happening at the store is to shop only when you’ve recently eaten.