One important factor that contributes to our food cravings – especially fatty foods such as ice cream, chips and candy – is chronic stress or emotional distress that occurs as a result of excessive cortisol produced in your body. Cortisol is a hormone that supplements negative feelings of stress and depression and many people turn towards food that temporarily satisfies their soul or simply keeps them busy.
However, such foods do not satisfy their cravings and instead exacerbates them and make people hungry for more. If it is not emotional stress then it is simple boredom that stimulates thoughts of having ‘yummy’ foods just to keep you busy. Bad news is that if you finish a bag of chips, you will raid your pantry for more.
Cravings are therefore mortal enemies of many dieters as they not only sabotage their weight loss plans, they are also very hard to resist and in the end, the mighty tub of ice cream triumphs again! So how can one control his or her cravings to achieve his weight loss plans? Keep reading and find out.
1. Keep a food journal
It is time you start religiously writing everything you eat in your special diary. This will not only keep track of your caloric intake, it will also make you think twice about eating the food you are craving for. For example, if you plan on having a chocolate bar you might think something like “I will walk the calories away” or “just this once, I won’t have it again”, the problem is that you WILL have it again and you might run into an important task that will stop you from exercising.
Cravings are like incomplete brick walls that stand between you and your weight loss goals; each food you crave for and eat will adhere to the wall and make it stronger. What’s worse is that the more you eat, the more you will want. This is why you must ditch your cravings, once and for all. While maintaining your food diary, make sure you write the food you are about to eat, so that by the time you write down the fatty food along with its calorie content, you might not feel so good about eating the food anymore.
2. If you cannot ban something from your mind, ban it from the house
It is time you consider changing your habits. Sometimes, banning chips or soda from your diet can be a tough job, therefore, build a support group in your family, ask your parents or spouse to not allow the food that you crave for the most, for example, chips, ice cream, soda etc., into the house.
Your cravings are stronger when the object at need is just a few steps away; therefore, restock your pantry and your fridge. The vending machine might be a bit too far for you in the middle of the night therefore; it is less likely that you will have any unhealthy midnight snack. Go to the market and get canned tuna, canned corn, canned-anything-that-is-healthy, so that you can satisfy your midnight hunger without worrying about cooking or going to the food store.
Avoid taking your kids to the supermarket as they may pester you to buy candy and snacks which will lead to your own guilty pleasures as well. Start off with baby steps, do not banish everything as your family might not support you with, get rid of one thing at a time.
3. Motivate yourself
Find purpose in your diet, however, avoid short-term goals such wearing the figure hugging dress at a party, wearing swimsuit at the beach or wanting to look amazing in whatever you wear. Even though these thoughts may seem very important initially, they are very minor and may not stick with you for a long time. You might get tired of that dress and opt for something else that will not reveal your figure very much, you never know.
Find external motivators such as support groups including your friends or family or even your food diary can act as your companion and stick with you all the way through. Writing down your weight and other measurements will act as great motivators as you progress.
4. Stop feeling guilty about guilty pleasures!
If you gave into your cravings there is not much you can do than move on. Do not sulk over it and call yourself an utter failure. One meal does not make up your diet and the calories gained can be lost through exercise. Make sure you add the calories gained from the guilty food to your overall calorie intake so that you do not exceed it. Cheat meals are okay once in a while, but do not overindulge and control your portions.
5. Have breakfast… or anything first thing in the morning
Even if you are late for work or school, do not skip breakfast. You are bound to feel super hungry and eventually you will turn towards fast food or sugary drinks to satisfy your hunger. Avoid convenient foods such as doughnuts, fatty milkshakes, lattes, sodas and hot dogs. If you are late for work, grab an apple or any fruit or vegetable which you can eat n the way, grab an extra, just in case you are hungry for a snack before lunchtime.
6. Control your brain; do not let it control you
Most of us feel hungry for a snack even though we ate just a short while back. Try to think of a king-sized meal for yourself such as a full roast turkey, right in front of you — for you to eat — alone. If you feel hungry just by thinking about turkey, then you are really hungry and you should eat – well not the turkey, but an apple or cucumber would do because you ate just a while ago.
However, if the thought seems to make you feel queasy or if you do not feel hungry by the thought of it, then you are really not hungry and you should divert your thoughts by doing something else.
7. Do not let your friends ruin your diet
Let your friends know about it so that they keep randomly messaging you and reminding you that you must not give up. This will also reduce your chances of receiving unhealthy treats such as cakes or pies. If you do not want your friends to know about your diet give hints such as you are lactose intolerant, wheat makes you bloat or sugar makes you hyperactive or gives you hives. This way you will receive encouraging baskets of fruits or some flowers.
8. Have natural appetite suppressants
Appetite suppressants are foods that make you feel satiated and satisfied for a longer time. These include beans, whole-grains, green leafy vegetables, fruits such as apples, pears and watermelons etc. Anything that is big yet contains a very low calorie content means it consists of a lot of fiber which is good for your diet. Additionally, you must also drink more than 8 glasses of water per day and also incorporate more than 5 glasses of green tea so that you can reap their benefits.
9. Make a list of foods before going to the supermarket (and never go food shopping hungry)
This will prevent you from putting everything you can grab onto into your cart, which include unhealthy varieties such as yummy looking pastries or cakes.
Also never, ever go to the grocery store for supplies when you’re hungry. Everything you look at will appear twice as desirable and you’ll fall right off the healthy eating wagon and arrive home with a load of tasty junk food for sure. Learn more about fat burning foods you should be eating and the foods to never eat.
10. Find healthy alternatives
You do not have to give up on chocolates completely; you can have the diet-friendly dark chocolate instead. Dark chocolate consists of antioxidants that help improve your metabolism, however avoid eating in excess. You can replace sugar with honey and fruits and you can replace fatty salad dressings consisting of mayonnaise or cream with olive oil, salsa or vinegar. Use olive oil or sunflower oil for cooking instead of butter or lard.
Avoid red meat but have lean varieties such as chicken breasts and fish. For dairy choose low fat milk, low fat yoghurt and low fat cottage cheese. See our fat burning snacks for some ideas on how you replace unhealthy snacks with heathy ones.
11. Delay eating the food you are craving for
You can do this by smelling some flowers, putting a chewing gum into your mouth or chewing on a handful of nuts. The more you delay your temptations, the more your cravings will fade away from your mind.
12. Change your mindset
Telling yourself that you are addicted to ice cream will make you feel bad about yourself and allow you to give up. The food you are craving for are not addictions, they are merely foods that temporarily lift your mood and leave devastating long-lasting results under your shirt. Therefore, they are not addictions; they are your enemies trying to control you. Fight it, you are strong!
13. Keep yourself distracted
If you are bored, you are bound to think of things you like the most and this includes foods such as ice cream and candy. Keep yourself occupied as much as possible, read a book, and if you find books boring, read a magazine or search for latest fashion trends on the internet. You can also go for a relaxing walk in the park or adopt a pet animal.
14. Take a nap
Cravings tend to occur mostly when we are tired or feeling drained. To avoid being desperate for a sugary drink to raise your energy, take a power nap.
15. Keep your mouth minty fresh
Once you have gone through the trouble of brushing your teeth, gargling with mouthwash and flossing, you will not want to stain your sparkly whites with your nasty cheat foods. This makes brushing after every meal an excellent advice.