Talking about ways to manage food cravings, I have good news and bad news.
The bad news is that is you face food cravings most of the time, you definitely need to revise your diet and add more organic nutrients to it.
The good news is it is often hard to manage food cravings, but it is possible.
If you think this is only your problem and that all other people have enough power of will to control themselves – well, that’s not true. The majority of people cannot control food cravings at all, some people are able to manage those in one way or the other, and only a tiny percent of people do not experience food cravings, mainly due to their diet and way of life.
There is no use in trying to limit yourself strictly. In fact, to manage food cravings, you have to eat.
There is a bunch of various tips on food cravings all over Internet, but as always, most of them suck. For example, this one: “Drink more water”. Nice, I imagine myself wanting a chocolate bar and drinking more and more water – will it ever going to stop my craving? Most probably not.
So, let’s go through a list of tips to find out what works and what doesn’t.
Drink Water – Nope
Nice try. This one never works for me. Filling your stomach with water is a smart cheating when you are simply getting hungry. But in the case of passionate craving, water won’t help.
Drink More Liquid, Not Just Water – Maybe
Just don’t drink water, it probably won’t work that effectively. Try a cup of nice warm tea, a glass of juice or a smoothie, even a milkshake will do (but avoid too much fat in your liquids).
Chew a Gum – Maybe
Well, not bad. This may work for some people, especially for those who was used to chewing on something all the time, and now is trying to lose weight. The taste of the gum will cheat your brain with some sugar, and you will be busy. The only disadvantage is that constant chewing of a gum can damage your stomach.
Plan Your Meals – Nope
What do you mean plan your meals? I’m always planning my meals, how the hell is it going to help me if I am craving a croissant right now?
This one won’t probably work.
Take Yourself Away From Food – Nope
Like go for a walk. Nice tip, in case this is possible. If I am sitting in the office working, then going for a walk will result in me buying a bun or two. Don’y forget that food cravings tend to accumulate and create emotional tension. So if you try to just distance yourself from food, you might end up eating a bucket of it later at night.
Think About Negative Outcomes – Nope
The closest negative outcome I foresee is that I won’t get what I want and will feel emotionally abandoned and irritated the rest of the day. Most probably won’t work.
Keep The Healthy Food At Hand – Maybe
This is a good one. Especially if you need to get up, go out and get yourself what you crave. People are lazy; why going anywhere if food is already here? Just make sure your healthy snack is also tasty, otherwise this tip won’t work.
Know The Food That Triggers You – Yup
I love potato chips, chocolate and bread (I can eat bread day and night). What are your trigger foods? Make sure you know what “turns you on” and be properly full before eating this product. Allow yourself a cheat meal when you eat this food as much as you want. It is ok to avoid it on other days. The trick is to change the motivation: try not to avoid the food because it is “bad” or “unhealthy”. Try to avoid the food that triggers you to get more pleasure a bit later when you have your cheat meal.
Take A Nap – Yup
If you can afford having a half an hour of sleep, try to do that. Sometimes, the brain feels so tired it starts to demand additional fuel, just to keep you running. Instead of adding low-quality fuel calories, give it a rest.
And now let’s dive deeper into tips that will help you manage the food cravings in longer term.
To Manage Food Cravings, Eat More Protein – Yup
Analyze what you are craving for. Perhaps this is the way your body signals that it needs additional building blocks for some tissues, and makes you eat more hoping that occasionally you happen to eat something it needs right now.
Help your body and avoid food cravings in advance by eating more proteins. If you are a meat eater, add lean meat dishes into your diet. Fish and eggs are also a wonderful source of protein. You should also consider nuts and seeds as a useful snack full of protein.
If you are vegetarian or vegan, add more beans and nuts into your meals.
Lentils is one of the bestest foods for plant protein that I know.
Eat More Sugar – Yup
What, are you surprised? But sugar is not only literally sugar. Bread and potatoes are technically sugars, too. Plants, fruit, and vegetables are all sugars. Flour and starch are sugar. Spaghetti is sugar. So a good piece of bread together with your meal will provide a lot of energy and stabilizes the level of sugars in your blood to the level when you will have fewer cravings.
The best option to manage food cravings is to eat a healthy snack of sugar and protein.
Add Vegetables To Every Meal – Yup
Vegetables, as it has already been said, are sugars that stabilize the level of sugar in the blood and decrease food cravings. But vegetables are also the most wonderful stomach fillers that make you feel full. You can literally stuff yourself with tasty vegetables to the condition when no food craving will be possible. I sometimes do that.
Fill Your Stomach And Then Eat – Yup
Have you ever ate so many pieces of watermelon that you became literally unable to eat anything else? This is a good tactic to repeat to manage food cravings. If you have access to the food you are craving, this food is in abundance and you feel you are able to devour more than is actually ok, fill your stomach with light healthy food before you get the one you want.
Eat two apples before you eat the whole chocolate bar. Eat two bananas before you eat three pieces of cake. The rule is NOT to forbid yourself to eat what you are craving for. You tell yourself that you eat it immediately after the healthy starter.
The rule is also to OBLIGATORY eat some of the food you craved for, even if you are already full. This should be done to avoid being emotionally neglected by yourself because food cravings are often emotional issue. So don’t deprive yourself of the emotional pleasure of eating a tasty thing.
Fill your stomach and then eat what you want.
Avoid Untasty Meals – Yup
Food cravings are mostly an emotional issue, and eating boring untasty meals (if you are following a diet, for example) is a guaranteed way to developing food cravings for those tasty snacks and treats you love.
So eat healthy AND tasty.
Avoid Becoming Extremely Hungry – Yup
Extreme hunger means that the level of sugar in blood drops to a critical point and the energy from fat tissues is not burned for some reason, or is already exhausted. In this condition, the brain starts to panic because it consumes mostly glucose. Without glucose, you are guaranteed fainting, nausea, and general dysfunction. So food cravings arise to make you eat anything and everything, in the hopes of getting that the body needs at the moment.
The strategy is never becoming extremely hungry.
Move Before You Eat – Maybe
When the sugar levels in the blood drop, but no energy from fat tissues is extracted by the body, you start feeling food cravings. A smart method to manage food cravings is to move for 15-20 minutes before eating what you are craving for. 20 minutes of walking, or dancing for your favorite songs, will extract fats from your tissues and the body will receive the energy source it wants. The chances are high that after 20 minutes of movement you will not be hungry at all, or you will be able to control your cravings.
Even if you are not able to control your cravings to the degree you would love to, you still know that you did a 20-minutes walk before eating, so this snack will be burned a lot faster.
Avoid All Or Nothing Approach – Yup
Most people consider that eating a candy in the middle of the day means that their healthy lifestyle is now ruined for the rest of the day. Therefore, they can now eat a bucketful of candies, just because it all makes no sense now.
Well, WRONG. If you eat, say, 4 meals a day, make three healthy and one not-so-healthy. You can be more cunning and place the not-so-healthy meal closer to the end of the day, to avoid this “all ruined now” feeling.
To manage food cravings efficiently, pay attention to what you eat and how. These smart tips will help you go through your food cravings unharmed.