Do you ever get cravings? For sweet or salty foods? Or maybe both?
I certainly do, and they can be a real hindrance towards our efforts to lose weight. We never really intend to eat it, but there it is calling our name.
So how can we prevent cravings? Let's dive right in.
1. Don't keep the food in the house in the first place.
This is my biggest tip.
It makes it way too easy to walk two steps to grab it and eat it.
After all, there is some truth to "out of sight, out of mind", and "we eat with our eyes".
Instead, avoid getting into the habit of pre-buying foods in bulk quantities that you don't intend to eat (e.g. junk food). This helps to set you up for success and prevent you from eating the food out of convenience, habit, or simply boredom.
That being said, if you do find yourself truly craving the food -
You keep thinking about it for an extended period of time
Your mind is occupied with it
And you feel like it's the one food you just really want to eat right now and nothing else will satisfy you
- then do honor your craving and go get it.
However, this means you will have to get dressed, go to the store, and buy what you're craving, in a single serving quantity. Avoid buying the pack of donuts; go for the single donut 🍩. Then go back home and enjoy it.
If you're willing to go through the trouble of all of that, it can be a sign that the craving was "real" - that you didn't just want the food out of convenience, habit, or boredom.
If it's not possible to keep those foods out of the house, at the very least, avoid keeping them in plain sight. Instead, hide them at the very back of the highest cupboard or in an obscure storage area, so it's out of sight and out of mind, and there's some barrier towards retrieving it. In addition, put healthier snack options, such as fruit 🍎 and nuts 🥜, in plain sight on the dining table.
2. Remove the trigger.
Do you ever find yourself on the couch at the end of a stressful workday, with a bowl of popcorn, and by the time the episode is over, you wonder where the popcorn went?
Or maybe you find that each night when you start cooking dinner, you inevitably sip on a glass of wine. And this continues while you cook, while you eat dinner, and even after you're done eating. Then half the bottle is gone.
Sound familiar? You're certainly not alone.
A lot of times, we create habits that are triggered by another habit.
For example: The habit of watching tv triggers the habit of eating popcorn.
In this case, can we either remove the trigger (watching tv), or replace the the resulting habit (eating popcorn) with a healthier habit.
Remove the trigger: Go on a walk, exercise, read, or occupy your time with another activity that you enjoy, but isn't so passive or non-engaging to encourage you to eat as a stimulus.
A good way to tell if it's a craving, or if it's a habit, is to try snacking on the food without the trigger (e.g. watching tv). Would you still sit down and just eat popcorn at the kitchen table (not on the sofa) while doing nothing (not watching tv)?
Replace the habit with a healthier habit: This may not necessarily get to the root of the issue, but it's certainly a step forward. Rather than snacking on buttered popcorn, try air-popped popcorn, veggies and dip, fruit, or a glass of milk. Or whip out your stationary bike while you watch tv!
3. Make sure you're not just hungry.
It is very common to snack more on less healthy foods when we:
Did not eat enough earlier in the day
Skip meals (ever skip lunch because you're too busy with back to back meetings?)
Are simply hungry!
I find that this snacking tends to happen before dinner and/or after dinner, and often shows up in the form of sugary or high calorie foods which give us a quick boost of energy.
For this reason, I recommend to avoid going more than 6 hours between meals. Beyond this, you may find yourself feeling overly hungry which can lead to excessive snacking and overeating at the next meal. Even if you can only squeeze in a snack rather than a meal to hold you over, that's better than nothing. So stock up on non-perishables such as fruit, nuts, and bars at your work desk!
In terms of weight management, counter-intuitively, eating regularly often leads to eating less calories overall, along with better digestion and energy levels, compared to eating less earlier in the day, feeling overly hungry, and overeating on higher calorie foods later on.
And that's it!
Try incorporating those tips and see whether you experience cravings less often.
Are there any other issues you personally struggle with around cravings? Or any other tips you personally use? Comment down below or send me a message and I'll get back to you!