How often do you get cravings for foods that aren’t good for you? If you answered yes, then you might want to try these simple strategies to curb those cravings.
Food cravings are common, especially during times of stress or emotional turmoil. They can also occur after eating certain types of foods (like chocolate) or consuming too much alcohol. Cravings can even cause you to overeat.
If you’re looking for ways to reduce your food cravings, here’s what you need to know about the science behind them and how to overcome them.
What Are Food Cravings?
A food craving is a strong desire to eat particular foods. It usually happens when you feel stressed or emotionally upset. When this occurs, your body releases hormones called “cortisol” and “epinephrine.” These hormones make you crave specific foods because they help you cope with stressful situations. Cortisol helps you deal with physical pain, while epinephrine makes you feel alert.
When you have a craving, it’s like having an itch in your brain. You may not be able to stop yourself from reaching for the food you crave, but you can learn to control your urges.
How To Overcome A Food Craving
The first step to overcoming a food craving is to recognize that you have one. Once you’ve identified the type of food you crave, you can start making changes to your diet.
Here are some tips on how to avoid getting into trouble:
1. Drink Plenty Of Water
Drinking water helps curb cravings because it reduces dehydration. Dehydration makes us feel tired and sluggish, which increases our desire for food. So drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated and avoid overeating.
Also, eat small meals throughout the day rather than three large ones. This keeps your blood sugar level steady, preventing hunger pangs.
2. Eat More Protein
When you crave foods, your body releases dopamine, which triggers cravings. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control our moods, emotions, and behavior. So when we feel stressed or bored, our bodies release more dopamine than usual. This causes us to crave foods because those foods produce feelings of pleasure.
To help reduce food cravings, eat more protein. Protein contains amino acids that trigger the production of serotonin, another neurotransmitter that regulates our moods. Serotonin is released during times of stress or boredom, so eating more protein reduces the chances of feeling stressed or bored.
Protein also increases satiety, which means you’re less likely to overeat after eating. Eating more protein also boosts metabolism, helping you burn calories faster.
3. Eat enough calories
Food cravings are powerful. They’re hard to resist, and they often lead us down a path of poor eating habits. But there are ways to reduce food cravings and keep them at bay.
First, eat enough calories to satisfy hunger. This means having three meals per day plus snacks between meals. Second, avoid foods that trigger cravings. These include sweets, salty foods, fatty foods, and sugary drinks. Third, exercise regularly. Exercise helps burn fat and reduces stress, two factors that contribute to food cravings.
4. Avoid restrictive diets
Restrictive diets are not healthy. They’re just plain bad for you. And they won’t help you lose weight.
Instead, try eating foods that satisfy hunger and satiety (fullness). Foods that contain protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are great choices because they keep you feeling full longer than simple carbohydrates.
When you eat these types of foods, you feel satisfied after meals, and you won’t be tempted to snack throughout the day. This helps you avoid overeating at night when you’re most vulnerable to cravings.
5. Eat a filling, nutrient-dense foods
Food cravings are often triggered by emotional factors, such as stress, boredom, loneliness, or depression. They’re usually short-lived, but when they last longer than 24 hours, they can be very hard to resist.
When you crave a certain type of food, try eating nutrient-dense foods instead. Nutrient density refers to the number of nutrients per calorie. Filling foods tend to be nutrient-rich because they contain fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats.
Fiber helps keep your digestive system moving smoothly, and it may help lower cholesterol. Protein keeps you feeling full and energized. Vitamins and minerals support your body’s natural functions. Antioxidants protect against free radicals, which can damage cells and DNA. Healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) improve brain function and memory.
Nutrient-dense foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, tofu, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy, and lean meats. These foods are rich in fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, and healthy fats.
6. Stop obsessing over calories
If you find yourself thinking about calories all the time, it could be causing you to crave more food. Instead, focus on satisfying hunger and satiety.
7. Distance Yourself From the Craving
Craving foods is a natural human response. We crave certain foods because we’re biologically programmed to eat them when we need energy. But this biological drive can be dangerous.
If you’re constantly eating junk food, you may develop unhealthy habits that lead to weight gain. And if you overeat at times, you run the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems.
To avoid these risks, distance yourself from cravings by making healthier choices. Eat healthy snacks between meals and limit your intake of sugary drinks and fast food.
8. Plan Your Meals
Food cravings are often triggered when we’re stressed out, tired, bored, lonely, or anxious. They’re usually temporary, but they can be hard to control because they’re so strong.
To help reduce food cravings, plan your meals ahead of time. Make a list of foods you crave, then pick one meal each day where you can eat those foods. This helps you avoid eating them at random times throughout the day.
If you’re feeling particularly stressed, try taking a walk outside instead of going straight home after work. Or take some deep breaths and relax. Try not to worry about what you haven’t eaten yet. Instead, focus on enjoying the moment.
9. Avoid Getting Extremely Hungry
Food cravings are very common among women. But most of us ignore them because we feel guilty when we eat too much.
But there’s no need to be ashamed of having a strong appetite. Food cravings are natural responses to hunger. They’re not bad; they just mean you haven’t eaten enough recently. So instead of feeling guilty, try to relax and accept your desire to eat.
If you find yourself constantly thinking about food, try to distract yourself by focusing on something else. Or simply wait until you’ve had some real food. Then you won’t crave any more junk food.
10. Practice Mindful Eating
When we crave junk foods, we feel bad because we know we shouldn’t be eating them. But we just can’t help ourselves. We need comfort food.
That’s where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness is simply being aware of what you’re thinking and feeling at any given moment. It helps you recognize when you’re stressed out and gives you the power to control your emotions.
Mindful eating means paying attention to every bite you take. So pay attention to your thoughts and feelings during meals. Notice when you’re stressed out, and try to eat healthier options instead.
And remember, there’s no shame in having a snack now and again. After all, you deserve a treat once in a while!
11. Take Spinach Extract
Spinach is loaded with nutrients, including iron, calcium, vitamin K, folate, and magnesium. Spinach is also packed with fiber, making it great for weight loss.
But did you know that spinach contains a compound called luteolin, which may help curb cravings? Luteolin helps regulate blood sugar levels, reduces inflammation, and improves insulin sensitivity. So when you’re feeling a bit peckish, try adding some spinach to your diet.
Luteolin is found in many foods, including celery, kale, parsley, peppermint, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and chives. But be careful not to overdo it because too much luteolin can cause diarrhea.
If you’re looking for ways to lose weight naturally, consider taking spinach extract to reduce food cravings.
12. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation is a major cause of cravings. Cravings are often triggered by stress, anxiety, and lack of sleep. So when you’re stressed out, anxious, or not getting enough sleep, your body releases chemicals that trigger hunger pangs.
So if you want to stop overeating, make sure you get plenty of rest. That way, you’ll have less reason to reach for those snacks.
13. Eat Proper Meals
Eating healthy meals will keep you full longer than eating unhealthy ones. And since you don’t always have time to prepare elaborate meals, it’s important to choose quick and easy recipes.
For example, you could mix up a batch of oatmeal and add fresh fruit, nuts, and seeds. You could cook brown rice with vegetables and spices. Or you could stir-fry veggies with lean meat.
14. Keep yourself busy
If you’re feeling stressed out because you’re bored at home, chances are you’re going to crave junk food. And when you’re stressed, you’re more likely to eat unhealthy foods. So keep yourself busy by getting outside and exercising.
Exercise releases endorphins, chemicals that give us feelings of happiness and well-being. Endorphins help relieve stress and anxiety, making exercise a great mood booster. Exercise also helps burn calories, which means you’ll lose weight.
When you’re feeling down, go for a walk or run outdoors. Or take a class at the gym. Whatever activity you choose, just be sure to stay active.
In Conclusion, controlling food cravings is easier said than done. But these 10 tips can help you cut back on your cravings without giving up your favorite foods.
Remember: It takes practice to overcome bad habits. So start small, like cutting out one or two snacks per week. Then gradually work your way up to eliminating entire days of snacking.