Food cravings are a dieter’s worst enemy.
These are intense or uncontrollable desires for specific foods, stronger than normal hunger. The types of foods that people crave are highly variable, but these are often processed junk foods that are high in sugar.
Cravings are one of the biggest reasons why people have problems losing weight and keeping it off.
Here are 10 simple ways to prevent or stop unhealthy food and sugar cravings.
- Drink Water
Thirst is often confused with hunger or food cravings.
If you feel a sudden urge for a specific food, try drinking a large glass of water and wait a few minutes. You may find that the craving fades away because your body was actually just thirsty.
Furthermore, drinking plenty of water may have many health benefits. In middle-aged and older people, drinking water before meals can reduce appetite and help with weight loss.
Drink a glass of water. Some people say that dehydration can cause cravings.
Drinking water before meals may reduce cravings and appetite, as well as help with weight loss.
- Distance Yourself From the Craving
When you feel a craving, try to distance yourself from it.
For example, you can take a brisk walk or a shower to shift your mind onto something else. A change in thought and environment may help stop the craving.
- Plan Your Meals
If possible, try to plan your meals for the day or upcoming week.
By already knowing what you’re going to eat, you eliminate the factor of spontaneity and uncertainty.
If you don’t have to think about what to eat at the following meal, you will be less tempted and less likely to experience cravings.
Planning your meals for the day or the upcoming week eliminates spontaneity and uncertainty, both of which can cause cravings.
- Avoid Getting Extremely Hungry
Hunger is one of the biggest reasons why we experience cravings.
To avoid getting extremely hungry, it may be a good idea to eat regularly and have healthy snacks close at hand.
By being prepared, and avoiding long periods of hunger, you may be able to prevent the craving from showing up at all.
Eat regularly. Waiting too long between meals may set you up to choose sugary, fatty foods that cut your hunger, Instead, eating every three to five hours can help keep blood sugar stable and help you “avoid irrational eating behavior,” Choose protein, fiber-rich foods like whole grains and produce.
Hunger is a big reason for cravings. Avoid extreme hunger by always having a healthy snack ready.
- Fight Stress
Stress may induce food cravings and influence eating behaviors, especially for women.
Women under stress have been shown to eat significantly more calories and experience more cravings than non-stressed women.
Furthermore, stress raises your blood levels of cortisol, a hormone that can make you gain weight, especially in the belly area.
Try to minimize stress in your environment by planning ahead, meditating and generally slowing down.
Get support. Many people turn to sweet foods when they’re stressed, depressed, or angry. But food doesn’t solve emotional issues. Consider whether emotions are involved in your sugar cravings and whether you need help to find other solutions to those emotional problems.
Being under stress may induce cravings, eating, and weight gain, especially in women.
- Reach for fruit. Keep fruit handy for when the sugar cravings hit. You’ll get fiber, antioxidants, and beneficial plant compounds, along with some sweetness all in very few calories. In addition to tasting great, fruit is an extremely nutritious snack. Fruit is naturally very sweet and a great choice when you get a sugar craving.
In addition to tasting great, fruit is an extremely nutritious snack. It provides prebiotic fiber, antioxidants, and beneficial plant compounds, all in very few calories.
Furthermore, eating fruit has been linked to better health and a lower risk of diseases like heart disease and obesity.
One 2015 review found that eating 300 grams (or 4 servings) of fruit per day reduced the risk of heart disease by 16%.
- Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is about practicing mindfulness, a type of meditation, in relation to foods and eating.
It teaches you to develop an awareness of your eating habits, emotions, hunger, cravings, and physical sensations.
Mindful eating teaches you to distinguish between cravings and actual physical hunger. It helps you choose your response, instead of acting thoughtlessly or impulsively.
Eating mindfully involves being present while you eat, slowing down and chewing thoroughly. It is also important to avoid distractions, like the TV or your smartphone.
8. Get Enough Sleep
Your appetite is largely affected by hormones that fluctuate throughout the day.
Sleep deprivation disrupts the fluctuations and may lead to poor appetite regulation and strong cravings.
Studies support this, showing that sleep-deprived people are up to 55% more likely to become obese, compared to people who get enough sleep.
For this reason, getting good sleep may be one of the most powerful ways to prevent cravings from showing up.
Sleep deprivation may disrupt normal fluctuations in appetite hormones, leading to cravings and poor appetite control.
- Eat Proper Meals
Hunger and a lack of key nutrients can both cause certain cravings.
Therefore, it’s important to eat proper meals at mealtimes. This way, your body gets the nutrients it needs and you won’t get extremely hungry right after eating.
If you find yourself in need of a snack between meals, make sure it’s something healthy. Reach for whole foods, such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, or seeds.
Eating proper meals help prevent hunger and cravings, while also ensuring that your body gets the nutrients it needs.
- Don’t Go to the Supermarket Hungry
Grocery stores are probably the worst places to be when you are hungry or have cravings.
First, they give you easy access to pretty much any food you could think of. Second, supermarkets usually place the unhealthiest foods at eye level.
The best way to prevent cravings from happening at the store is to shop only when you’ve recently eaten. Never — ever — go to the supermarket hungry.
Eating before you go to the supermarket helps reduce the risk of unwanted cravings and impulsive buying.
Slow down. For one week, focus on your sugar cravings and think about what you’re eating. Diet mayhem often results from a lack of planning. So slow down, plan, and eat what you intend to eat, instead of eating the quickest thing you can find.
Cravings are very common. In fact, more than 50% of people experience cravings on a regular basis. They play a major role in weight gain, food addiction, and binge eating.
Being aware of your cravings and their triggers makes them much easier to avoid. It also makes it a lot easier to eat healthy and lose weight.