Tip 1. Eat Breakfast.
If you are the type of person who skipping breakfast causes you to feel light-headed, unproductive, and craving carbs by mid-afternoon, the simple fix is to eat breakfast. Wake up 30 minutes early and make a protein and fiber-rich breakfast. By filling your stomach with protein and fiber-rich foods, your stomach will signal to your brain that you are full. This decreases your hunger by decreasing your hunger hormone ghrelin and stabilizing your blood sugars.
Tip 2. Listen to your Body.
You are probably thinking… “If I listened to my body, I would just give into my sugar craving. My body feels like it needs it”. Not so fast though. Sometimes your MIND is the one craving the sugary food, not your body. In fact, your body is probably craving the exact opposite- nutrient dense foods.
Ask yourself this before you give into your craving:
- Am I dehydrated? Sometimes dehydration can disguise itself as hunger. We have become so dehydrated as a society, that we cannot distinguish thirst from hunger anymore. Drink a glass of water, wait 20 minutes, then see if you are still hungry.
- Am I tired? Are you getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night? When we are tired our body has a very hard time dealing with cravings. Our appetite-suppressing hormones go completely out of whack, causing intense carb, fat and sugar cravings. How many times after a long 12-hour work-day have you come home and ran straight to the cupboard for that bag of chips? You most likely did not need that snack, what you needed was a good night’s sleep.
- Am I stressed? Are you stressed out of your mind? Stress, similar to fatigue, and dehydration causes intense cravings. Stress raises your stress hormone cortisol, which in turn causes your appetite craving hormones to skyrocket, making willpower almost zero. Instead of giving into that salty, fatty, sugary craving, take a hot bath, and sip some tea. I know that sounds difficult, but trust me here. As your stress diminishes, you will notice that your “craving” was actually just a momentary lapse weakness due to stress.
Tip 3. Stop Restricting Foods.
Listen, I know how easy it is to be sucked into “Fad Diets”, or “Starve Yourself Thin” in the name of losing weight. They seem promising. But they are not. As you may have noticed the trend above… low calorie and food group restrictive fad diets cause your appetite-suppressing hormones to plummet. Following a moderate calorie deficit (15-20% below maintenance calories), keeps your hunger hormones balanced, and helps ward off cravings. But, even worse than wacky hormones, is that as a society we always want what we can’t have. If you continually tell yourself that carbs or cookies are off-limits forever, it makes you want them more. Eat a moderate diet, don’t eliminate food groups or certain foods, and watch how much easier cravings become to handle.
Tip 4. Take Your Mind Off of Food.
Now this one is hard. We are in a society where food is around us 24-7. Taking your mind off of food can be a huge challenge. However, I have one task for you next time you find yourself with your hand in the cookie jar. Call a friend/go for a walk/read a book/go for a jog/chew some gum, and tell yourself if you are still craving the cookie, you can have it- just later. Boredom usually disguises itself as hunger or a need for food. Sugary and fatty foods sets off the pleasure centers in our brains. However by “procrastinating” your craving until later, by the time you remember to eat the cookie you will most likely just forget about it.
Tip 5. Don’t Beat Yourself Up.
Here is my personal favorite tip: You will give into cravings every now and then. You are human, so get used to not being perfect. This is normal and in fact, healthy. What is not healthy is belittling yourself every time you “slip up”. When we give into our cravings, and then try to compensate by under eating, jogging for hours on the treadmill, and feeling guilt and anxiety all day long, we are setting ourselves up for continual failure. Remember a habit takes 21 days to really set in.