Beat Food Cravings With These 7 Tips

Beat Food Cravings With These 7 Tips

It's incredibly hard to resist food cravings. Sometimes it feels like you just can't stop thinking about eating a thick slab of hot apple pie or a bag of your favorite barbecue potato chips. Even substituting a carrot for those chips doesn't stop the craving. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to overcome temptation and stick to your diet. Try one of these tips the next time you have a serious craving.

1. Replace your mental picture

Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School discovered that your brain produces a mental image of the food you crave. If the food you eat doesn't match that picture, the craving will continue.

Changing the image in your head can help you overcome a craving because it's impossible to picture two things at the same time. Conjure up an image of your favorite relaxation spot or your dog to eliminate the craving. If you find it difficult to stop your mind from roaming, keep a printed photo handy. It can be easier to focus on an image if you can hold it in your hands.

2. Embrace sharing

In many cases, you don't have to eat an entire bag of barbecue potato chips to satisfy your craving, but once you open that bag, it's often hard to resist finishing it. If you buy the food you crave, make sure there's someone else around to help you eat it. You'll get to indulge without overdoing it and just might become the most popular person at work, thanks to your generosity.

3. Change your routine

Many people associate foods with certain activities, such as popcorn with a visit to the movie theater. If your usual Friday night routine involves pizza and ice cream in front of the television, it'll be hard not to crave those foods since you now associate them with your end-of-the-week TV schedule. Find something else to do on Friday night and break that association.

4. Don't forget to inhale

Researchers discovered that a whiff of certain non-food aromas, such as jasmine or eucalyptus, helped people overcome food cravings in one study. Keep a vial or two of essential oils on hand or put a scented candle on your desk. Candles often produce such strong aromas that you don't even have to light them to take advantage of their scents.

5. Pack a snack

If you're concerned about calories, it may be tempting to skip snacks. Unfortunately, when you're hungry, you tend to crave multiple foods, not just one, which means it's even easier to overindulge. Instead of eliminating snacks completely, choose small snacks that are high in protein, like whole wheat peanut butter crackers or string cheese. The protein in these foods will help you feel fuller longer.

6. Get more sleep

A good night's sleep can reduce your cravings. A lack of sleep negatively impacts your ability to make good decisions and increases activity in the part of your brain that controls desire, according to UC Berkeley researchers. Since sleep deprivation affects your judgment, it will be even harder to resist that bag of potato chips. People who don't get enough sleep are also drawn to salty and high-calorie foods when they experience cravings.

7. Reduce stress

If you notice that your cravings increase when you're under pressure, try a few stress-reduction techniques. Yoga, exercise, massage and meditation can help you feel more calm and relaxed, and decrease your desire for that bag of chips.

Cravings don't have to ruin your diet or weight management plan. When temptation strikes, experiment with these tips to find a strategy that will help you stay committed to healthy eating.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22407134

http://news.berkeley.edu/2013/08/06/poor-sleep-junk-food/

http://www.monell.org/news/news_releases/brain_regions_activated_by_food_craving_overlap_with_areas_implicated_in_dr

http://diet.mayoclinic.org/diet/eat/beat-your-cravings?xid=nl_MayoClinicDiet_20151112

About the Author:

Holly McGurgan is a freelance writer who frequently writes about health and fitness topics.