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10 Ways To Help Curb Cravings

Food cravings – they sneak up on us when we are stressed out, lonely, or sad. Don’t let them control you – instead, put down the pizza and read these 10 effective strategies to help control them.

  1. Take a time out. When you experience a craving, take a 15–20 minute time-out. Set a timer; when the time’s up, ask yourself if you are even hungry. It’s important to listen to your body and eat mindfully.
  2. Quench it! Sometimes our bodies can’t tell the difference between thirst and hunger, so try drinking a glass of water first (or a cup of tea!). Wait 15–20 minutes, and if you still have a craving, then enjoy a small portion.
  3. Eat more! More often that is. Try eating a small, healthy meal or snack every 3–4 hours. This helps provide an even supply of energy and prevents your blood sugar from crashing. Cravings kick into high gear when blood sugar drops.
  4. Divert your attention. Try a distracting activity, such as going for a walk, listening to music, or calling a friend. If you’re still craving that pick-me-up food after the diversion, enjoy only a small portion.
  5. Kick it! Stressed out? Get active! A healthy dose of physical activity helps take your mind off of the food craving and will also release endorphins (“feel good chemicals”) in your brain, boosting your mood. The Public Health Agency of Canada contains great information about how to get active.
  6. Play detective. Take control of your cravings by identifying possible triggers. Keep a journal. Record what you are craving, what you were thinking about at the time, the location (e.g. work, school, shopping), and the time of day. This will help you identify what may be triggering the food cravings.
  7. Brush it off. Try brushing your teeth. Sometimes the sweetness of toothpaste helps curb the craving – and you are not as likely to eat something after brushing your teeth.
  8. 8. Arm yourself with healthy snacks. Try having 100-calorie healthy snacks on hand; substitute these Healthy Snacks for any salty or sweet craving. Grabbing fresh fruit or veggies is a great way to scare off hunger and also helps you get your recommended daily amount of 7-10 servings a day.
  9. 9. Play Houdini! Place foods that you typically crave out of sight. Yes, this means moving the candy dish off your desk. Out of sight, out of mind!

10. Visualize. A new Australian study by psychological scientists Eva Kemps and Marika Tiggemann found that visualizing an alternate image, such as a rainbow, or imagining the smell of eucalyptus, may help decrease thoughts of the food you are craving. They also found that when you crave a food, you may actually start to visualize it and get distracted from completing other cognitive tasks.

Bottom line: All foods can fit into a healthy diet; it’s important not to deprive  yourself.  Without small indulgences, you may end up eating a whole cheesecake instead of just a small piece, or an entire bag of chips instead of a handful. Remember, enjoy everything in moderation!

For more information about food cravings, visit our previous posts Your Food Mood and Comfort Cravings.

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