Welcome to the Healthy Way Diet Program! Our focus is providing nutritionally sound and medically researched information and advice to help you live healthier, happier lives.
Overcoming Food Cravings
We’ve all had days when we craved that chocolate bar or those cheese curls. Dieters are especially likely to succumb to certain trigger foods, and those triggers are probably foods that contributed to their weight gain to being with, so a dieter will try his or her best to avoid them.
What causes food cravings? A number of factors may be involved. Low blood sugar levels resulting from severely restricted diets or skipping meals and eating at irregular intervals can lead to food cravings. Many cravings are brought on by emotional triggers that lead to you seek comfort in certain foods*. You might crave a certain food when you are feeling low on energy and need a boost, or your food cravings may actually indicate a nutrient deficiency. Stress, unhealthy sleep patterns and other psychological factors can also cause food cravings.
Understand what is causing your cravings and stay away from trigger food
If you’re on a diet, one of the first foods you probably decided to eliminate was your trigger food. It’s the food that once you start eating it, you can’t seem to stop, and you certainly can’t resist it when you see it. Unfortunately, when we completely deny ourselves something, it often just increases our desire for it.
First assess the underlying cause behind the craving. Did you eat regular meals today? If not, then your blood sugar may be low. Eat a piece of fruit to ease the sweet craving, or maybe a nonfat yogurt with a tablespoon of granola if it’s cake or ice cream that you’re craving. Whatever you choose, make it food that enables you to get back to your diet, and on your regular eating schedule.
Are you suddenly feeling stressed or anxious or moody? Maybe you’re reaching for your comfort food because of an emotional trigger. Remind yourself that food is not the answer to emotional issues and the issue won’t go away after you’ve eaten. Take a minute to evaluate your feelings and use a relaxation technique like meditation before reaching for that snack.
An afternoon siesta can help you battle your cravings
Another reason for cravings is fatigue. When you are tired and lethargic, you often snack to wake yourself up and provide an energy boost. A proper night’s sleep or an afternoon nap is a better way to fight this battle. A 10- 20 minute power nap can reenergize you and may drive those food cravings away.
Take your mind off food cravings through diversions
Cravings typically last only a couple of minutes- when the craving hits, put your mind elsewhere by creating a diversion. This could include listening to music, calling up a friend, replying to emails, or tackling a household chore.
Eat smaller portions when your cravings get the better of you
When a person is overcome by a food craving, they will often end up overindulging. If diversionary tactics aren’t working and you’re about to cave in to the craving, consume only a small portion. Instead of eating the ice cream out of the carton or the chips from the bag, serve yourself a small portion in a bowl and eat the food slowly. This can help ensure that you do not overeat.
Here are some other ways to curb cravings:
- If you are craving sweets, eat a ripe banana or a handful of blueberries instead of chocolate or cookies.
- Pop sugarless chewing gum in your mouth when the craving sets in. This not only eases the craving, but moves your mouth to give you the feeling that you’re actually eating something.
- Healthy nuts like walnuts and almonds can help curb your appetite and also provide satiety.
Remember that it is okay to indulge yourself once in a while
Don’t be too restrictive with your diet. It is okay to indulge in a piece of cake once in a while. The idea is to make sure you do not overdo it.
If you think that your food craving may signify a chemical or nutrient imbalance in your body, seek the assistance of a health care profession to assess your nutrient status.
*For additional information on emotional eating, reference The Healthy Way Diet Manual.