We have researched the best tips on how to counteract food cravings. Use our tricks to resist cravings and even prevent them altogether.
Everyone knows them, nobody likes them: food cravings. They usually come in the form of a wild desire to stuff yourself with food. In most cases sweets, chocolate, jelly beans or chips. Food cravings can be quite fatal, especially during a diet, when you’re already struggling with hunger. So it’s best not to give in. However, many people find it hard to resist food cravings, because they are treacherous and tend to pop up out of nowhere.
Causes of Food Cravings
There are several causes for these cravings. We associate sweet foods with positive feelings. The conditioning for sweets begins in the womb, because breast milk tastes sweet and its flavor signals that the food is edible and non-toxic. In childhood, we receive ice cream or chocolate as a reward and get comfortable with this system. Even later on in life, we reward or even comfort ourselves with sugar. This is why our brains will automatically demand sugar in specific situations.
Furthermore, adults consume more sugar than is healthy. According to the German Diabetes Society, each German consumes an annual 35 kg of sugar. This is equivalent to about 100 grams of sugar a day – twice the recommended daily amount. The food industry is partially responsible for this. The reason for this is that researchers have discovered certain foods to be addictive. A study has proven these findings. The explanation: When we see, smell and taste certain unhealthy foods, certain areas in the brain are stimulated. It works similar to how drugs work.
The food industry is aware of this and takes advantage of how our bodies work by knowingly combining fat and sugar in a way that most stimulates the brain. That’s why it’s so hard to resist cravings.
In addition to the aforementioned causes of cravings, regular food cravings or even binge eating may also be a symptom of serious physical or mental illness. Metabolic disorders such as diabetes mellitus or hyperthyroidism may be causes.
Oftentimes food cravings are an alert signal by the body. It’s letting us know that it lacks essential nutrients. Therefore, if we eat unhealthy foods during the day, or if we don’t eat enough, it may lead to food cravings in the evening. In addition to the psychological causes of cravings, there are also physical ones. But if one becomes aware of this behavior, food cravings can be prevented. This leads us to the best tips and tricks to counteract cravings!
Cravings – what to do?
It’s that time again: The stomach growls and demands something sweet, greasy or salty. An acute food craving! But what can you do to resist the craving?
We’ve divided our best tips and tricks against cravings into two categories:
- What can you do to resist acute cravings?
- What can you do to avoid food cravings?
Let’s first look at acute food cravings. These usually last no longer than 15 minutes and are quick to fade away. There’s a lot you can do to bridge this time and outwit the cravings:
- Tip 1: Use chewing gum
Chewing gum or mouthwash can drive away the cravings. The taste of eucalyptus or peppermint tricks our taste buds and helps us forget the taste of chocolate or chips.
- Tip 2: Distract yourself
The more we think about our appetite, the sooner we will give in. That’s why distractions are extremely helpful in resisting food cravings. Go for a walk, clean your home, send an e-mail or phone someone!
- Tip 3: Correct drinking
If the stomach growls during a craving, it helps to slowly drink a large glass of water. This fills the stomach and reduces the feeling of hunger. This also works with tea. However, don’t add sugar or sweetener.
- Tip 4: Low calorie snacks
It doesn’t always take something sweet or high in fat to satisfy the craving. Stock up on healthy snacks like rice cakes or dried fruit to satisfy the cravings, without consuming a lot of unnecessary calories.
It is possible to avoid food cravings altogether by paying attention to one’s behavior and following a few rules. It’s not even that difficult.
- Tip 1: A healthy diet
A healthy diet is the key to preventing food cravings. Avoid white flour products like white bread or light pasta. They contain simple carbohydrates that are quickly converted to sugar and drive up blood sugar. Resort to high-fiber foods such as whole grains and vegetables instead.
- Tip 2: Eating regularly
Eating regularly means that you should eat until your full, when eating your main meals. Food cravings are often a result of repeatedly snacking and never eating main meals, thus never really getting full.
- Tip 3: Sufficient sleep
Lack of sleep makes you hungry, because the body produces more appetite-enhancing hormones during a sleep deficit. Make sure you sleep at least seven hours every night.
- Tip 4: Keep a record
Keeping a food diary helps with changing the negative learned behavior of giving in to food cravings. You should also note when cravings occur, what you felt like eating and what mood you were in. It plays an important role in learning how to cope with the cravings.
- Tip 5: Conscious Shopping
A simple but effective method to deal with food cravings is to simply not have any candy or unhealthy snacks around. A good way to achieve this is to write a shopping list and preferably avoid shopping on an empty stomach in order to avoid the tempting offers.
- Tip 6: Don’t be too strict!
If you’re dieting and absolutely avoid everything, you’ll definitely suffer a hunger attack sooner or later. Therefore, total abandoning is not useful, as it actually promotes cravings. Small and occasional sins should be permitted.
- Tip 7: Avoid light products and sugar
Sugar and sweeteners quickly ensure a high insulin levels. It will often drop just as quickly, usually resulting in cravings. Choose whole grain products, fruits, low-fat foods or vegetable snacks instead.