The holidays are gone, but the goodies are likely still lurking in the pantry, calling your name, and threatening to trigger your cravings for sweets, baked goods, and salty snacks.
Without these food cravings, you are quite certain that you wouldn’t have put on those extra few pounds recently, or while celebrating your birthday, or during your last vacation.
Actually, you have a point,1 the experts say.
Walk past the vending machine. This is one of the tips experts suggest to help you manage your food cravings and avoid adding a few unwelcome pounds.
Weight Gain for Some: Learning to Manage Your Food Cravings
Cravings—the intense, frequent desire to eat a specific food or type of food—do account for up to 11% of weight gain.
“So if you are someone who can put on several pounds in a short time, at least 10% of that weight gain is likely due to your eating to satisfy a food craving,” That may not sound like much but those few extra pounds are more likely attributable to food binges than genetics can currently explain, he says.
Here are the highlights of what they found and suggestions to help you tame your food cravings.
Food Cravings Are Real But Manageable
“The consensus you can draw from most of the current literature is that food cravings are definitely related to body weight in general;
1. Recognize patterns for food cravings
Cravings develop when your desire to eat a certain food is paired with a stimulus such as watching a favourite TV show or feeling sad or lonely.
When you stick to a healthy dietary plan, it can help to reduce the temptation to seek out tempting foods you are trying to avoid, so your cravings really do decrease, or may completely disappear.
In fact, when you restrict your calories overall—especially when you eliminate sugar and white flour-based products—food cravings are likely to decline even disappear.
Research on this topic suggests that when you follow a Mediterranean-style approach to eating, for example, the result is that your appetite is suppressed and the urge to eat trigger foods dissipates.
2. Remove any temptations to tame food cravings
If you cannot stop at one….don’t tease yourself. It’s simply better to avoid bringing these foods—cookies, chips, crackers—into the house.
“The key is to change the stimuli since craved foods are often paired with something else,” For instance, if you watch a certain TV program and crave popcorn, find another show to watch.
Or, if you can’t bear that, walk on the treadmill while you watch to break the cycle of munching as you enjoy the show.
Similarly, if you walk by a vending machine at work, and are drawn to a candy bar or those cheese crackers, “change your route.
Another way to look at this is to remind yourself that every time you reach for a quick fix of simple carbs, you are left feeling satisfied for a brief moment. This rapid boost of sugar-based calories will quickly pass, leaving you still hungry and craving more. Thus, a problematic cycle becomes harder to manage.
Maybe just start with your coffee. Find a suitable substitute for the sugar or sugar substitute to deliver more flavour. Try adding vanilla-flavoured unsweetened almond milk to your coffee, or make hazelnut coffee to give you a satisfying cup without the sugar that can trigger more food cravings.
Then, move on to other processed, prepared foods. Swap out the Danish or doughnut for an egg with pear and a sprinkle of cheese, or oatmeal with warm berries. The less sugar you have, the less you are likely to crave the foods high in it.
While this may seem obvious, it may be a good time to get you to clean out the pantry and the fridge, especially after the holidays are over.
Don’t keep any foods around that may call your name when you come home hungry, or are looking to soothe yourself after a fight with your spouse, child, friend, or coworker.
What’s not there, won’t tempt you.
3. Plan Meals with Protein
The fix for hunger jags is to plan your meals around protein and vegetables to fortify your metabolism; in this way, your appetite will very likely remain steady and you’ll feel satisfied from one meal to the next, so the opportunity for a craving to strike is much, much less.
The more sugar-laden processed, prepared foods you eat, the more you will want.
“What helps with my patients is having them eat protein at each meal, so having eggs or Greek yoghurt at breakfast, not cereal or a bagel.
The goal is to make sure your meals include chicken, fish, or beans at lunch and dinner along with a hearty salad and/or a big serving of vegetables to fill you up and keep your blood sugar even and your appetite needs to be met.
4. Swap out the Sugar, Create Distractions to tame food cravings
Be prepared for the moment that hunger strikes:
- Always have a piece of fruit and some nuts on hand.
- Pack some hummus and carrots, red pepper, or celery, for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
- Keep a tin of roasted almonds in your desk drawer at the office
- Have a bag of peanuts and dried mango in the car, and in your handbag or backpack.
- Keeping a low sugar, protein bar at the ready so if you miss a meal, you can keep your blood sugar even, and avoid being blindsided with an insatiable hunger.
See if that helps, Sometimes just a little may be enough to keep you from a full-on food craving, or you may find that the less you have it, the less you will feel the need for it.
5. Strive for a Healthy Weight
When you are committed to managing your weight, you are likely to have fewer food cravings. It could be that you are feeding your body the foods that it needs to function well, so you are satisfied.
This is critical since the studies about the value of exercise helping to foster weight loss are mixed but will help to keep the lost weight off,5 regardless of the reasons for the weight gain.
In one study, walking for five minutes out of every hour before lunch reduced food cravings more than sitting nonstop.
Other studies have also found a benefit of increasing your activity to head-off a food craving or act as a timely distraction.
Obesity drugs may help food cravings decline, too. Those who used a meal replacement system and took phentermine had fewer cravings after 12 weeks than those who just used the meal replacement system.
Bariatric surgery may leave you with fewer food cravings, but the jury is still out. While some studies have found it helps, having the surgery may have only a temporary effect but the benefits of weight loss and reversal of diabetes remain the primary reason for considering a gastric bypass.
When These Strategies Aren’t Enough….