They usually strike when you’re stressed out or just plain hungry. Whether it’s for a chocolate doughnut, a piece of pecan pie or a big bowl of strawberry ice cream, cravings are tough to ignore. What’s the best way to handle those tough food cravings that threaten to topple your weight-loss plans?
Ask Yourself Why You’re Having a Food Craving
Are you really hungry, or are you using a sugary food to deal with a stressor in your life? Some people are emotional eaters – and munch away even when they’re not hungry. Before opening the refrigerator door and succumbing to a craving, ask yourself if you’re really hungry – or just stressed out. Pop a piece of gum in your mouth instead of a cookie, and see if the craving goes away. A taste of sweet may be all you need to avert a bigger diet disaster.
To Handle a Food Craving, Have an Arsenal of Food Craving Counterattacks to Fall Back On
Go on the offensive when a food craving strikes – by taking action. Go outside for a brisk walk in the fresh air, call up a friend, brush your teeth or take a hot bath. Action thwarts food cravings and takes your mind off of what’s in the refrigerator or cabinet. Once you divert your thoughts away from food, the craving mysteriously disappears.
Don’t Stock It
Don’t make unhealthy foods easily available. Clean out your refrigerator and cabinets and fill them with healthy substitutes for the foods you crave. Instead of a bowl of ice cream, have a cup of low-sugar yogurt when a food craving strikes. Whip up a healthy smoothie or milkshake in lieu of a high-calorie dessert. Instead of apple pie, roast an apple in the oven and eat it with a little caramel sauce. Look for healthier ways to handle food cravings instead of depriving yourself of the foods you enjoy.
Stop Food Cravings: Don’t Let Hunger Gain a Foothold
You’re most likely to fall victim to food cravings when you’re stressed – or hungry. Keep hunger at bay by munching on healthy foods throughout the day. Make sure you’re getting enough calories and aren’t skimping on fat or protein in your diet. Fat and protein are both more filling than carbs, and they won’t negatively impact your insulin levels.
Nip Night Eating in the Bud
Many people are night eaters and are more susceptible to food cravings after dinner. This may be a sign that you’re not eating enough during the day. Keep a food diary to make sure you’re getting enough calories during the daytime hours. Take an evening walk or learn a new hobby to divert your attention away from the kitchen after dinner.
The Bottom Line?
Take these simple steps to handle food cravings, and you’ll feel more in control of your eating – and less prone to snack mindlessly and indulge in unhealthy foods.
Health Magazine. November 2010. page 70.