Are food cravings getting in the way of your fitness goals? You’re not alone. They’re very common, but they can be controlled, or even stopped altogether. Follow these 10 tips, and you’ll be well on your way towards gaining back control over your diet.
High Fiber Foods
High fiber foods control food cravings through a few different mechanisms. First, they provide bulk in your stomach. When fiber is mixed with fluid, it becomes several times its size. Not only that, but it also becomes heavier. This size expansion and increased weight in your stomach makes you feel full.
High fiber foods also provide a slowing mechanism for the digestion of your food. The slower you digest your food, the longer the time lapse before you feel hungry again. It also slows the release of glucose into your blood stream – which is imperative for both fat loss and hunger control.
If you’re unfamiliar with the glycemic index (GI), it’s a way of measuring the effects carbohydrates have on blood sugar levels. The higher the GI, the faster your blood is gorged with glucose. If you want to fight food cravings, you need to start focusing on eating low-glycemic foods. These foods are going to provide a nice steady release of glucose into your blood stream – resulting in low insulin levels. Keeping your blood sugar levels from swinging to extreme highs and lows will keep the cravings at bay.
Exercise and Hunger
How are exercise and hunger related to controlling those constant cravings for food? Exercise improves your insulin sensitivity. Your insulin sensitivity regulates how much insulin your body needs to produce to clear the glucose from your blood stream.
People that are insulin resistant (type II diabetics) need more insulin for any given amount of glucose. The problem with this is that insulin sweeps in and tends to overcompensate by leaving you with low blood sugar. What accompanies low blood sugar? Lethargy, laziness, headaches, and you guessed it – a desire to eat more food.
Drink More Water
Are you thirsty or are you hungry? Many times thirst is mistaken for hunger. In any regards, you probably need to drink more water anyways. If food cravings are creeping up on you and it isn’t meal time yet, down a glass of water and move around a bit.
See if that helps. It might hold you over for another 30 minutes, and that might be all you need to make it to your next meal. Dehydration creates all kinds of negative problems for your body. You might as well knock them all out and also potentially kill your food cravings in the process.
Change Eating Habits
Many times cravings can be traced back to your current daily routine. You have to change your eating habits if you expect to change you lifestyle, let alone stay in control of your eating. If your common routine at night is to have dinner, and then a few hours later sit in front of the TV and snack, you need to change your eating habits.
These cravings are psychological. They are extremely tough habits to break. Try weaning yourself off those bad eating habits by replacing bad snacks with good ones. You could even have an extra healthy meal if you must. Just don’t give into the temptations that are solely based on your current lifestyle routine.
Eating frequent meals is a great way to fight food cravings. It’s much easier to stay on track when you know that you’ll be eating just 3 hours later. Once you add in eating time, the time between meals could be even less. The debate is out on whether frequent meals are better for boosting your metabolism.
However, there is no doubt that eating frequent meals provides many psychological benefits that will help you solve your problem. Make your healthy food tasty, and eat it often, and you won’t have to worry about unhealthy food cravings “ever” again.
Remove Unhealthy Food
One of the easiest yet most overlooked methods for stopping the desire for less nutritious food is to go through your house and remove unhealthy food from your kitchen, pantry, or anywhere else you’ve hidden food (you know who you are). Why even tempt fate? If the food is within reach, you are 10 times (or more) more likely to eat it than if it wasn’t there in the first place.
Get rid of that food. Don’t get rid of it by eating it! Throw it away. You’ll make fighting food cravings that much easier when that bad food isn’t calling your name from the other room. Out of site, out of mind.
Eat More Calories
I can’t tell you how many times I see people skimping on their calorie intake. If you want to lose weight, you need to cut your calories (or create a deficit of some kind). The problem is that most people cut their calories way too much. They go from eating high fat, high carb processed food that contains more calories than they thought, to healthy, low-glycemic, high fiber whole foods that have fewer calories than they expected.
This giant swing throws your body’s hunger hormones out of whack. Your goal should be to eat as many calories as possible and still lose weight. Don’t cut too many calories too soon. It is much easier to come down than it is to come up with your calories. If eating food is always on your mind, you might want to reassess your caloric intake.
Cheat Meal Once a Week
Want to control sugar cravings? Then don’t deprive yourself of what you want. Having a cheat meal once a week will help keep the urges at bay. If you know you’re going to be getting a great tasting meal at the end of the week, your mind will be less likely to tell you to feed the urge.
Cheat meals serve two purposes for controlling food cravings. First, they satisfy the psychological aspect of wanting “bad” food. And second, they physically reset many of the hunger hormones responsible for hunger. Hormones like leptin and ghrelin become more aligned with a body that doesn’t feel like it’s being deprived or starved to death.
Are You Hungry?
Ask yourself – are you hungry or are you bored? I’ve seen more people eat out of boredom (myself included) than eating because they were actually hungry. Those processed food cravings are in your head most of the time. If you’re feeling hungry and you’re also bored, chances are you just need to redirect what you’re doing. Get active and go do something. Before you know it, you will have forgotten about the food altogether.
This article is part of the 10 Ways to a Better Body blog series. Be sure to check out the rest of the series!