You’ve added more veggies to your meals, upped your lean protein intake, and reduced your non-whole-grain carbs. It’s a smooth ride along the super highway toward health–when BAM–cravings come in and make you feel like you’re sliding out of control. It’s either will power takes the wheel or be positioned for a head-on collision with cookies, chips, and chocolates (potentially all at the same time).
Even the most disciplined find themselves facing the potential disaster that is cravings. Rarely do cravings have anything to do with real hunger–the innate kind we are built with for survival. After all, chocolate chip cheesecake with raspberry sauce wasn’t around in the caveman era. Instead the desire for a specific type of food is typically more connected to a mix of messages between your stomach and brain and messed with by your hormones. Scientists are still trying to make better sense of it all, so until they do, try these tips to keep your cravings in check.
Drink Water: If you’re not getting enough H20 each day, then your cravings could actually be your body’s SOS for hydration. Before giving into the dangling carrot cake, drink up. A glass of water or cup of green tea can be just what you need.
Go Away: Why are you all of a sudden ready to maim or murder just to get your hands on a dish of ice cream? Oh yeah, because you’re at a birthday party where everyone is eating it. Cravings can sometimes come up simply because the food, especially ones you may not normally eat, are right in front of your face. Instead of reaching out to take your share, walk away and get a change of scenery. Out of sight, out of mind…and out of your mouth.
What Is Missing? If you tend to crave specific types of food consistently, there may be a link between what that food contains and what nutrients are missing from your meals. For example, women tend to crave chocolate during their menstrual cycles not just because it’s delicious (although that helps) but also because it contains trace minerals a menstruating woman may be lacking. Chocolate can positively affect seratonin levels in the brain to help combat moodiness.
Mind Games: Sometimes you need to pull a fast one on your cravings. If you’re craving candy and sweets, try snacking on a piece of fruit. If you’re craving potato chip, reach for some toasted almonds or a handful of tortilla chips with salsa. Sometimes it’s just a flavor you’re after instead of the actual food. Switch it up with something healthy and see if you’re satisfied.
Write It Down: Spend a couple weeks tracking your cravings. The observations you make might help you to curb the craving before it begins. For example, if you find that you crave something salty every mid-afternoon, have a healthy option available to which you can look forward to having. Not being armed allows your mind to wander toward all the things you could be eating instead of should be eating.
Give In…A Little: If you really want a cupcake, sometimes you just need to have a cupcake. It’s OK to not be so strict with yourself and to enjoy the little things in life. The keyword is little. Have a cupcake, not a whole cake. Or better yet, get that cupcake and split it with a friend. Sure you’ve caved to your craving, but you’ve also sent that craving packing with a little less guilt for yourself by keeping it a petite portion.
Cravings are going to come now and then–or even all the time. Just remember that you are mentally strong enough to overcome the craving, and emotionally strong enough to not beat yourself up when you need to give in.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever craved? Tell us in the comments!