According to some studies, men are more likely to develop cravings for savory foods while women generally tend to crave sweet foods with higher fat content. However, the general consensus remains the same – cravings are universal and they can get hard to resist.
That being said, if this is something you struggle with, there are plenty of things you can do to stop food cravings, or at the very least make them easier for your body to resist.
This article outlines a few actionable tips you can incorporate into your lifestyle as soon as today!
Let’s dive right in!
Identify What You Crave and Why
The good news is, there’s almost always a method to the madness. Once you figure out the method, you can address the madness.
It’s time to invest in a little notebook and take notes every time you begin to crave certain foods. Consider what you did during the week or day.
- What kind of meals did you have before the craving began?
- Did you have a lot of that food around you?
- Did you feel stressed?
- Did you have an important meeting coming up?
- Were you intensely hungry?
- Did you interact with someone else consuming a similar food?
- Did you crave something sweet, salty, or savory?
- Is your period due?
These are all factors worth considering, but there might be more that are unique to you. Either way, write down the circumstances surrounding your cravings.
The idea is to be mindful about what your body craves and to learn why and when this happens. Once you’ve jotted down a few of these instances, you’ll be able to identify what your triggers are. Look closely at your notes and you’ll find a pattern beginning to take shape.
Once you do, you’ll be able to identify why you crave certain foods. When you know why you’ll know when to expect them, thus making them easier to resist.
If you still find it hard to identify what triggers your cravings, it might help to talk to a trusted friend, therapist, dietician, or weight loss professional about your problem. Cravings can often stem from deep-seated issues associated with external pressures, childhood trauma, and more.
In cases like these, it is beneficial to address the root cause, while simultaneously working on building a healthier relationship with food.
Distance Yourself From Your Cravings
Once you know what kind of foods you tend to crave, it’s time to step away from them. You’re more likely to crave something, and more importantly, succumb to your craving if it’s easily accessible. It is likely easier for you to steer clear of temptations when you live alone, however, this can get a little trickier if you’re living with someone else.
Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. You’re more likely to spend your money on junk when you’re experiencing those hunger pangs than when you’re feeling full and satisfied.
If you’re living with a roommate, friend or spouse consider talking to them about foods that you find hard to resist. Perhaps, you can figure out an arrangement that involves having separate sections to store your snacks.
Request them to keep their snacks in a cupboard or drawer that can be locked or that you have limited access to. Out of sight, out of mind! Of course, that’s easier said than done, but once you’ve physically distanced yourself from your craving, it’s time to mentally distance yourself as well.
When you feel that familiar urge rise, look for a way to distract yourself. It’s a good idea to make a list of things you find easy to absorb yourself in. That way, you’ll never run short of things to do when you need a mental distraction.
Consider activities that require you to engage your mind. This could include solving crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, taking your dog out on a walk, teaching or mentoring a child, volunteering at a shelter, playing a sport, painting, or anything else that strikes your fancy.
Find Healthier Alternatives
It’s likely that you want to stop food cravings because of the consequences that follow. It’s what you crave that’s the problem, isn’t it? Your body tends to want a taste of sweet, sugary, salty, processed foods that you know are going to be detrimental to your health.
The truth is, these foods are engineered to make us want more of them. Once you give in to a craving, your body is going to want more of it. No, not because you’re completely devoid of willpower, but because manufacturers try to use every trick in the book to ensure that you keep coming back for more.
The best thing you can do is to break down the craving and find a way to satisfy it without falling into that vicious cycle. This starts with becoming more mindful about your cravings.
Break down your craving into what it really is – sweet, salty, savory. Then, find a healthier, minimally processed alternative. These alternatives are not designed for you to crave more of them, but to satiate and nourish your system.
Using Mindfulness to Find Healthier Alternatives
Take some time to stop and acknowledge the craving. What is it that you really want?
Is it chocolate? This could indicate a craving for magnesium, phosphorus, butters, and fats. You can substitute this with raw nuts and seeds like walnuts, hazelnuts, or almonds.
Is it soda or fizzy drinks? Consider sparkling water or a fizzy lemonade with a natural sweetener like date syrup.
Is it crisps and salty snacks? Counter this with baked or air-fried sweet potato crisps and beetroot slices, hummus and veggies, oven-roasted chickpeas, and pumpkin seeds.
Do you want a creamy, decadent dessert? Opt for Greek yogurt and berries or naturally sweetened nut butter paired with fruit.
List out your most common cravings and write down the corresponding healthier alternative that you enjoy next to it. Print this out and stick it up on your refrigerator or a place you frequent for your meals.
Healthier Ways to Address Stress and Boredom
We tend to eat when we’re stressed and when we’re bored or have nothing better to do. These are prime times for our cravings to rear their ugly heads. Cravings simply serve as unhealthy coping mechanisms for these unpleasant human experiences.
What you really need to do is find healthier ways to cope with them. This generally involves lifestyle changes.
Exercise and Movement
You need to incorporate more exercise into your routine. Now, what this essentially boils down to is increasing your activity and movement during the day. You don’t need a gym subscription or a yoga class (although if you enjoy those, by all means, go ahead), rather you need something that you see yourself doing regularly.
The idea is to choose something that you enjoy, or at the very least don’t hate. This could include dancing, cycling, running, playing tennis, swimming, walking your dog, cleaning your house, or engaging in active playtime with your kids, nephews, or nieces.
Exercise is a two-for-one because not only does it help you manage chronic stress but it’s also a great antidote to a bored and restless body.
Talking to a Professional
Alongside exercise, it can also help to tackle the source of your stress and anxiety. This will take some introspection on your part, and it may also help to talk to a qualified mental health professional about your struggles. There is a lot of research to back up the efficacy of certain medications, talk therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy in treating anxiety.
Making Sleep a Priority
Sleep deprivation and mental health problems tend to go hand in hand. Resist the urge to pull that all-nighter and try to squeeze in seven to eight hours of regular sleep.
The longer you are awake, the more likely you are to crave unhealthy food. Think about all those times you lay awake in bed munching on a packet of crisps. There’s a body of research that suggests poor sleeping habits have an impact on our hunger regulating hormones.
Erratic sleeping patterns and sleep deprivation can lead to increased cravings for fatty, high-sodium, sugary foods.
Protein Is Your Friend
If you’re someone who gets hungry fairly frequently during the day, it might be time to up your fiber and protein intake. A higher protein intake will keep you fuller for longer, thereby reducing your cravings throughout the day.
Find a way to incorporate at least one portion of protein-rich foods into your meals. Some healthy and nutritious sources of protein include:
- Kidney beans, black beans, cranberry beans, and white beans
- Split peas, chickpeas, and lentils
- Edamame and soybeans
- Tofu and cottage cheese
- Salmon, tuna, and chicken breast
- Peanut butter or other nut butters
- Quinoa and other whole grains
If you are dealing with kidney problems or other chronic illnesses that require you to limit your protein intake, be sure to talk to your doctor before making any changes.
Drink More Water
It is not uncommon to misinterpret thirst for hunger. Given that hunger makes you more susceptible to cravings, it helps to ensure that you’re keeping yourself hydrated throughout the day.
You can also consider sipping on a glass of water the next time you feel a craving coming on. Even if you weren’t really thirsty, at least you’re getting in those eight glasses! Plus, more water is a great way to sustain that feeling of fullness and satisfaction throughout the day, and it will likely reduce your bouts of hunger in general.
Say No to Starvation and Fad Diets
Starving yourself is no way to approach weight loss. The key is to incorporate healthy lifestyle changes that you can sustain. Yes, the temptation to jump right into the deep end and drastically reduce your calorie intake is a strong one, but it won’t serve you well in the long term.
Worst of all, it will lead to an increase in those hunger pangs and intense cravings that are so hard to resist.
Instead, consider reducing your calorie intake by small margins over a long period of time. This will give your body a chance to get accustomed to these new changes. Additionally, it also helps to opt for smaller, nutritious meals throughout the day, rather than big meals after long intervals.
Of course, if you’ve found success with intermittent fasting you don’t need to make changes. However, if you struggle to manage your cravings during these intervals, it might be smarter to consume smaller volumes more frequently, rather than vice versa.
Use the Power of Positive Reinforcement
Finally, be sure to reward yourself for resisting your cravings. No, not with more food, but with something you find pleasurable. Perhaps you can take yourself out for a fun movie or reward yourself with a spa day.
Use the power of positive reinforcement to keep yourself going, especially on days that are particularly hard.
Stop Food Cravings With Consistency
There’s no need to be hard on yourself for experiencing food cravings. Rather, pay attention to your body, find the root cause and stop food cravings at the source.
More importantly, keep in mind that food cravings cannot be eliminated in their entirety. However, by incorporating the above-mentioned habits into your lifestyle, they will definitely get a lot easier to manage.
Go easy on yourself, give yourself time, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
UnCraveRx can put you in touch with a qualified medical professional who can help you cope with unhealthy eating habits and healthy weight loss. Schedule a consultation with our experts to find a long-term solution to your needs today.