We have all had those times where you just felt ravenous. You craved something almost uncontrollably. You wanted something sweet or salty and even after having a little bit—you felt the need to eat more. In the process your healthy diet goes off the rails.
A Tufts university studies found that over 91% of women said they have had strong food cravings. The other 9% were probably lying.
Don’t beat yourself up but obviously try and prevent this from happening again. In order to prevent it from happening again we need to understand WHY it happened. Cravings can be caused by a numbers of factors.
Typically cravings are caused by emotions, low blood sugar and/or hormones. Try and understand what triggers affect you and take steps to avoid or minimize the potential damage.
Here are a few tips on how to beat food cravings the next time you feel the urge:
- Cravings Busting Tip #1
Keep healthy snacks on hand. Low blood sugar is a trigger to binge eating. Typically low blood sugar is caused by eating sugary foods. What typically happens is your blood sugar spikes and then crashes after an hour. You end up being hungry and craving even more.If you are having difficulty recognizing blood sugar spike inducers then a good reference to use is the Glycemic Index. It is a great reference even for non-diabetics to understand your food choices better.This site:
Gives you a list of 100 foods as a benchmark.In general vegetables, nuts, seeds and some fruits are better choices than snack bars. Healthy fats and proteins are also better choices. There are many natural snack bars available (ie Clif bar) that have a low GI and are made with more of “slow burn” carbs.
- Cravings Busting Tip #2
Drink water. If you are feeling hungry try drinking water first. You can drink lemon water as well for variety—and the other health benefits it offers. Sometimes when you think you are hungry—you may actually be thirsty. The next time you feel hungry—try water or lemon water first. Drinking water can make you feel full and stop cravings in their tracks. And proper hydration helps keep your metabolism running in top form.
- Cravings Busting Tip #3
Eat more protein. Eating quality protein will help you maintain balanced blood sugar levels. Protein also gives you more of a sense of fullness than carbs. Adding lean protein to your diet can help reduce cravings and unhealthy snacking.You don’t need a high protein diet—most people get enough in their diet. But having protein bar snacks can help curb appetite.
- Cravings Busting Tip #4
Make room for favorites. Don’t beat yourself up on a diet. If you eliminate all of your favorite foods it will only lead to more cravings. Portion control is the important factor to consider when giving yourself a “treat”. Allow your diet plan to include small amounts of food s you like—in fact plan for them. Make sure you eat a balanced total meal that includes your treat.
- Cravings Busting Tip #5
Keep your stress in check. Stressful situations often lead to emotional eating. If you are over stressed then negative emotions can get the best of you.Anger, fear, depression and negativity can take over. It is these emotions that are the root cause of “emotional eating”. Try and recognize your emotions and find other outlets to deal with stress. Rhodiola, B vitamins and a good sleep schedule can all help reduce the effects of stress. Maintaining an active lifestyle and regular exercise level also helps manage stress levels. Meditation is also very effective at reducing stress.
- Cravings Busting Tip #6
When in doubt-try and wait it out. A lot of times your craving is not about needing food but about wanting to feel better. If you have a craving but don’t really feel hungry—try and wait it out. You probably are not hungry and if you can wait a few minutes it may pass on its own.
- Cravings Busting Tip #7
Break the bad habit. Often people just get in a habit of eating a desert or something sweet at a certain time of the day. Analyze your routine and re wire your plan. If you can drink water or have a healthier snack instead—you can slowly break the habit.If you accept and plan for cravings instead of denying them—you will be more successful in your healthy eating plans. Drink enough water or lemon water to stay hydrated. Try and maintain a good exercise program, seeping schedule and stress reduction plan.
Food cravings are a part of life—so learn to manage them so healthy eating can be a lifestyle instead of a temporary oasis. Try all of these tips and find the ones that work best for you.