6 Ways to Conquer Cravings for Good
Dieting and trying to lose weight can be a losing battle, a losing battle to all-powerful cravings. Even with strong willpower and motivation, cravings can become overwhelming. While part of this is mental and influenced by eating habits that are long-embedded in our brains, another part of it is very physical. You must attack cravings head-on and have tools to fight both the mental and physical aspects of cravings to avoid the potential vicious cycle that cravings can create. Here are the 6 ways to accomplish winning the craving war:
- Play mind games on yourself. Especially if you know the craving has no physical basis and is purely emotional, ask yourself "What will happen if I don't eat this?" The only thing you'll miss out on is a very short-lived gratification that will leave you feeling worse than skipping the cookie, ice cream, French fries, etc.
- Eat some healthy carbs like fruit, oats, sweet potatoes, vegetables, and nuts. This will help keep your blood-sugar levels balanced, which in turn can keep cravings in check. Physical cravings can hit if you let yourself get overly hungry and then everything and anything sounds good!
- Have a post-workout snack with carbs and protein. Even if you're trying to lose weight, eating something with 100-150 calories within 30 minutes post-exercise can help prevent cravings later on in the day or even the next day. Good choices are ½ apple + string cheese, a small handful of almonds and a small banana, yogurt, or whey protein shake with almond milk and ½ cup frozen fruit.
- Chug water. Especially if your cravings are connected to stress or lack of sleep, both of which create a hormonal response that makes your brain think you need carbs and sugar. Working with numerous clients who have cravings directly connected to lack of sleep and high stress, drinking extra water seems to help in those moments of high stress or fatigue.
- Eat a high protein snack. Especially if you're physically hungry AND craving carbs/sugar, have a high protein snack instead. This way you'll feel satiated without feeding into your cravings. Many of my clients first crave something sweet. And then something salty. And then back to the sweet stuff, creating that vicious cycle I mentioned above. The high-protein snack kicks the cravings to the curb. If you like spicy foods such as hot sauce, salsa, wasabi, or peppers, add these in too as the spice and heat seem to help cut cravings.
- Plan to splurge. This plays into both physical and mental aspects of cravings by allowing yourself to enjoy one of your favorite foods or drinks in a small amount. Your taste buds are happy and you're able to stay on track with healthy eating long-term. Mentally, it sets you up for success because know on a certain day or specific meal you get to indulge. A little.