Conquering your food cravings is one of the best ways to help ensure that you eat healthy.
Everyone has food cravings, but those who manage their weight, don’t “cave” to their cravings every afternoon or evening when the desire for something sweet strikes.
Here are proven ways to help conquer your cravings and keep your willpower up all day long.
Keep Blood Sugar Levels Steady
Cravings generally strike when blood sugar levels dip too low. Self-control is highly regulated by blood sugar levels. According to research from Roy F. Baumeister, PhD, a professor of psychology at Florida State University and a coauthor of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, when blood sugar levels drop, you lose your ability to resist temptation.
Blood sugar levels can plummet if you eat sugar-rich foods or refined carbs, without any protein, fat or fiber to help slow the release of glucose into your bloodstream. It can also happen when you go several hours without eating or drinking something that contains carbohydrates. To combat this, don’t skip meals, and be sure to eat quality carbohydrates (read: whole grains) more than refined choices and limit added sugars. When you eat carbs, don’t eat them “naked;” enjoy them with some fat or protein. Examples would be crackers or bread with nut butter; apple slices with a handful of nuts or toast with an egg.
Make Crave-able Foods Inconvenient
One of the best ways to avoid a binge when you’re craving sweets or other treats is to make those foods hard to access. I don’t keep any chocolate or candy in my house so if I really want it, I make myself walk to the local grocery store to get it. The fact that I make unhealthy choices inconvenient often gives me time to eat a piece of fruit or some nuts instead of reaching for the gummy candies. The most problematic “trigger” foods to keep at a distance include baked goods like cake, cookies and donuts; salty snacks; fries; chocolate and candy.
Check Your Hunger IQ
My clients often crave sweets or desserts when they’re on a deadline and stress of home or work feels like it’s too much to bear. I have them use a hunger scale to help them stay on track and they often realize that they’re feeding their emotions not hunger. I help them find alternative ways to deal with their emotions that don’t involve ice cream, candy, cookies or alcohol. Use this hunger scale to help keep tabs on real physical hunger versus emotional “hunger.”
There’s no bigger threat to derailing your diet than alcohol. Alcohol acts like a triple threat when it comes to cravings. First, it acts on areas of the brain that make food more desirable and at the same time, it turns your ironclad willpower to nothing more than tinfoil. And at the same time, alcohol packs in nearly as many calories per gram as fat, so a little bit of booze can pack in a lot of kcals. In fact, many mixed drinks have more than 500 calories per serving. Here’s more about alcohol and your diet.
Get More Zzzs
Research shows that when people lack adequate sleep, cravings for unhealthy foods increase. At the same time, their willpower is diminished because they’re exhausted. When a craving strikes, think about your sleep habit from the previous night to see if that could be the root cause. If it is, then be sure to try to catch up on your missing zzzz.