How to Outsmart Your Cravings for Food
Do cravings keep you from attaining your ideal weight? Strong cravings can certainly sabotage diets, and they can cause guilt and stress when they become too strong to ignore.
This is one of the most common reasons that make you fat and make losing weight difficult.
Some dieters believe that cravings are just a part of life, and that a sufficient amount of willpower is all it takes to overcome them.
Not so! But you can outsmart your cravings once and for all by taking these simple steps:
Step 1: Identify the Craving
Stop a moment and reflect on the craving. What do you crave?
Cravings are the body’s way of telling you it needs something. If you’re craving salt, you might be dehydrated. If you’re craving sweets, you might have low blood sugar. If you’re craving fruits and vegetables, you might need vitamins or fiber.
Sometimes we crave fat if we’ve been following a low-fat diet plan for too long. A strong milk craving almost certainly suggests a need for calcium or Vitamin D.
Once you figure out what you’re craving, it’s time to learn why.
Step 2: Identify the Trigger
It’s important to be able to tell if a craving is a legitimate nutritional need, or just a symptom of strong emotions or a chemical reaction.
Look at the circumstances surrounding the craving. Are you simply hungry because you’ve gone too long without eating? Has something made you suddenly sad, angry, or stressed? Are you just bored?
Sometimes, after eating a heavily carb-laden meal, you will find yourself craving carbs again soon afterward. That’s because the carbs raised your blood glucose, triggering a release of insulin and a quick drop in blood sugar shortly after the meal. Your body responds by making you crave sugar (carbs).
Write down the circumstances in your food journal, and start tracking your cravings. You might see a pattern emerge. If so, you can use that pattern to predict future cravings and thwart them before they strike.
Step 3: Make Satisfying Substitutions
Many diet mishaps occur because we get a strong craving for something sugary or fatty, so we grab the nearest food product that meets those criteria. Too often, it’s something unhealthy and high in calories.
Take a moment to be honest with yourself. Do you really need a giant slice of cake, or will something smaller suffice? Sometimes just the taste of something sweet or creamy is enough to satisfy comfort food cravings.
Instead of grabbing a bag of potato chips, try eating a handful of salted peanuts or a 100-calorie bag of low-fat popcorn. They will satisfy your craving for something salty and crunchy without blowing your diet.
A fat craving can be curbed by eating a few slices of avocado, or brushing some extra virgin olive oil onto a slice of whole grain bread. Get creative with the substitutions, and you will rarely, if ever, feel deprived.
Step 4: Be Mindful
Mindless eating allows cravings to have their way with us. Mindful eating puts us back in control.
Sit up and pay attention the very first moment a craving strikes. Identify the craving and its cause, and indulge it in moderation. While you eat, pay attention to your body’s response.
Take time to savor every mouthful. Put down your fork or spoon after a bite or two, and breathe slowly and steadily. Don’t read or watch television; instead, focus on what you’re eating.
Sip water throughout your meal. Sometimes thirst masquerades as hunger, producing cravings that keep us eating past the point of satiation. When you are finished, take a moment to stretch and relax before you get back to your daily activities.
These powerful tips will put you back in touch with your real hunger, and you’ll never have to fear your cravings again!