Ten Tips to Calm Cravings

By Melinda Maryniuk, MEd, RD, CDCES

Everyone’s had the experience of working hard to eat better – less processed foods, smaller portions, cooking more at home. But there are times when you’re just craving something specific to eat, and usually it’s something sweet or salty. Your inner voices can drive you crazy taunting you with “Go ahead, you can have it….” or “It’s just this one time…” We know that allowing treats now and then is important, and we can’t restrict ourselves. But we also know there are times when the “occasional’ treats become a daily (hourly?) thing!

What can you do to calm the cravings? How can you feel in control and not let yourself give in when you don’t want to? Review these 10 tips and plan to try those you think might work bests for you. Also, check out our list of “Better Bites” for those who crave salty or sweet treats!

1. Know your “PMR”– Everyone needs to identify their own PMR – a Personal Motivating Reason why you want to be healthier, eat better and lose weight.  It might be so you can drop to the floor (and get up again) with more ease when playing with your grandchildren or your dog. It might be so you can take that walking vacation you’ve been dreaming of with friends without being the first to call it quits. Write it down. You don’t need to share it with others, but you may need to remind yourself of why you’re working so hard! People who hold health goals that are personally important are more likely to keep them!

2. Resist and reward – It’s easier than you think. When a food seems to be calling to you, acknowledge the temptation and turn your back on it. Distract yourself by taking a walk, picking up a book, writing an email or just entering into your journal a congratulatory note to yourself. Most people find that “mind over matter” really does work. Then, give yourself a pat on your back for your accomplishment. It may take a little while to lessen some cravings, but you can train yourself out of them!

3. Eat meals and snacks on time – Start the day off right with a breakfast that includes some protein (such as an egg, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt). Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time so you won’t be left wondering what’s to eat.

4. Avoid hunger – Especially avoid going grocery shopping when you’re hungry.  It’s so easy to pick up a bag of chip or chocolate – as no one will know except for you. Shop after you’ve eaten, but if that can’t be helped, put an item on your list that you can eat right away when you get in the car that you’ll feel good about such as a banana or a small granola bar.

5. Limit exposures to food – Keep tempting foods out of sight and keep the better choices within easy reach. Consider recording your favorite TV shows and fast-forward through commercials if they serve as a trigger for you to eat.

6. Eat enough protein and fiber – With more fiber (veggies, fruits, whole grains) and protein in your diet, you’ll feel fuller and be less tempted by cravings

7. Get enough sleep – It’s true. Poor sleep habits can disrupt normal fluctuations of appetite hormones leading to cravings and poor appetite control

8. Drink water – Sometimes cravings for food are confused with hunger or thirst. If you’re thinking about eating something you’re trying to avoid, start with a big glass of cold water or a cup of herbal tea.

9. Be realistic – Remember the 80/ 20 rule. Healthy foods at least 80% of the time, but allow room for treats to fit in. Buy the tempting foods you crave in small serving sizes to reduce temptation to overeat.

10. Be prepared – If there is a particular food you crave, make your own list of “better bites” to be prepared as a substitute. If you find yourself craving ice cream, instead of eating out of the gallon container, find a single-serve ice cream bar you can enjoy instead. Check out the list of suggestions to get you started below.

What are some other simple ways to manage cravings?

  • Instead of opening a big bag of potato chips, create your own snack bags putting 15 chips in each. Keep them out of sight. Plan to have one a day at a certain time so you know you can look forward to it.
  • If candy is a trigger for you, avoid the grocery store checkout lines that offer candy sales as you wait. Or, opt for gum or a more satiating snack, like a pack of nuts or a granola bar.

Diet and exercise are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to reaching a healthier weight. For many people, psychological tools, medications or surgery are the key for sustainable weight loss. Talking with a physician who specializes in weight management can help you get the treatments that are right for you… to find a physician near you who specializes in weight management, click here.

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This article was sponsored by Novo Nordisk Canada. All content is created independently by My Weight – What To Know with no influence from Novo Nordisk.

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