An irresistible craving for sugar, carbohydrates or salt… we’ve all been there. Food cravings that are strong enough to send you straight to the refrigerator can easily break your weight loss efforts.
Knowing the cause of your food cravings just might help you overcome it. Check out these five tips on how to handle food cravings:
1. LEARN TO IDENTIFY EMOTIONS
Cravings are not always the result of emotions, but for some of us, emotional eating can be an issue. If your craving is coming from boredom, anxiety or other emotions, find an activity that will take your mind off your craving without adding calories.
Replacing eating with an activity you find emotionally satisfying is a great way to treat yourself without sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
2. WATCH THE CLOCK
If you go longer than five hours without food, your blood sugar will drop and your cravings will begin. Avoid a craving caused by hunger by not going more than five hours without eating, and allow time for a healthy snack that is full of fiber, protein and a little bit of healthy fat to keep you fuller, longer.
3. STAY HYDRATED
Dehydration can cause some people to crave salty foods. In fact, what you may think is a food craving may actually be thirst. Keep a water bottle handy throughout the day to make it easy to satisfy your fluid needs.
Struggle to enjoy plain water? Shannon Szeles, Beaumont dietitian and nutritionist, recommends adding some fresh-cut fruit or vegetables like strawberries or cucumber to add a crisp, refreshing flavor.
4. GIVE IN (A LITTLE)
Dieters often forbid “bad” foods. However, disallowing certain foods can make you feel deprived, which may set you up for cravings. Allow yourself to enjoy something you like in a sensible amount before the sense of deprivation builds up.
“If you have a craving for sweets, try one small square of good quality dark chocolate,” explained Szeles. “This will send a message to your brain that you have fulfilled that sweet craving with a small portion. Bonus – you will get some good antioxidants!”
If you crave salty/crunchy foods, try carrot or celery sticks with a lower calorie dressing or hummus to fulfill that salt/crunchy craving while getting fiber, vitamins and minerals!
5. WAIT IT OUT
Sometimes, the best way to deal with our cravings is to wait it out. If you can convince yourself it’s mind over matter, you may find food cravings aren’t such a roadblock to weight loss goals.
The next time you find yourself with a serious urge for a cupcake, consider these tips to identify the root cause and help you handle your food craving.