Nearly everyone experiences food cravings from time to time, but if you are in the position where you are craving and eating unhealthy treats frequently, you may be at risk for gaining excess weight and developing health complications.
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Sugary, salty and fatty foods are among the most common in terms of cravings, and while these indulgences satisfy your taste buds in the short term, you can greatly benefit health-wise from doing your best to keep your snacking under control. Fortunately, a number of effective strategies for eliminating detrimental food cravings are at your disposal. Try the ten tips and tricks described below!
1. Eat A Few Bites Of Your Desired Food
If you are really craving one food in particular, you are better off taking just a few bites of that specific indulgence rather than trying to satisfy your hunger with alternatives. Eat a reasonable portion of your treat so that you can be satiated quickly; trying to “eat around” your craving often results in a higher caloric intake.
2. Opt For A Healthier Version Of What You Crave
Processed or convenience foods may serve as an easy option for curbing cravings, but since these items are often prepared with high amounts of sugar, fat and preservatives, take a healthier approach by making your own meal with healthier ingredients. For instance, if you crave pizza, skip ordering takeout in favor of buying low-fat cheese, whole-grain crust and fresh tomatoes.
3. Evaluate Hunger vs. Boredom
Do you find that your food cravings tend to occur when you are engaging in idle activities such as watching TV, surfing the Internet or reading a book? If so, try to determine whether or not you are actually hungry or if you are only motivated to eat because of boredom. Avoid wandering into your kitchen solely for the purpose of stimulation.
4. Keep Your Mouth Busy With Chewing Gum
Chew a piece of flavorful, low-calorie gum, and you stand a good chance of defeating your food craving simply by keeping your mouth busy. Gum is a particularly good choice for people who crave minty or sweet snacks. Stock up on variety packs of your favorite chewing gum brand, and carry a pack or two with you for when hunger strikes.
5. Drink A Glass Of Water
You have probably heard diet experts say that hunger is often confused for thirst and that drinking water is an effective way to keep food cravings at bay. Test this for yourself if you feel hungry soon after you have already eaten – your body may be telling you that it needs hydration! A refreshing eight-ounce glass of water is ideal.
6. Eat Small Meals Every Few Hours
If you are in the habit of eating large meals and then waiting between four and six hours to consume another large meal, you may develop cravings in the interim. Prevent frequent hunger pangs by eating small meals spaced about two hours apart. Your cravings may naturally disappear on their own because you do not have the chance to become hungry.
7. Consider A Medical Check-up
On occasion, food cravings may be an indication of a health issue that needs to be addressed, such as vitamin or mineral deficiency, diabetes or thyroid problems. If you experience seemingly insatiable cravings for certain ingredients, consider scheduling an appointment with a medical professional in order to make sure that your body is functioning properly.
8. Distract Yourself And Wait For The Craving To Pass
Distracting yourself in a productive manner is a useful technique to try when you want to avoid giving in to food cravings. Work on a home improvement project, go for a brisk walk, run on the treadmill or call a friend on the phone to keep yourself occupied. Your cravings may recede as you become engrossed in your activity.
9. Make Sure That Your Diet Meets Your Nutritional Needs
Just as you should be careful to not exceed your optimal caloric intake on a daily basis, you should also make certain that you are not eating too few calories to stave off hunger. If food cravings are a consistent problem, keep a journal of what you eat each day and see if you can benefit from adding more nutrition.
10. Ensure That You Are Well-Rested And Stress-Free
Both stress and lack of sleep contribute to throwing off your natural body rhythm, which in turn can lead to a disruption in your eating patterns and cravings for food at inopportune times. Aim to sleep between seven and eight hours each night, and reduce your stress levels with meditation, regular exercise, herbal supplements or other calming elements.