Everyone gets cravings – whether it be for sugary snacks, carb loaded foods or chemical ridden sodas. Being able to combat these cravings and avoid gorging on unhealthy foods is one of the keys to maintaining a healthy diet and healthy weight.
This article shares 12 very clever tips and tricks to curb cravings naturally. Read on for all 12 ideas…
1. Know Your Triggers
If you have frequent cravings for the same foods, it may actually be your body trying to tell you that it needs one or more specific nutrients. Here are the four most common categories of snack cravings and some helpful solutions on how to tune them out.
Chocolate: You may need magnesium. Instead, try some of these healthy foods.
Salty snacks: Try consuming seaweed, rye bread, tomatoes, or olives up your daily chloride intake.
Fatty foods: It’s possible that you aren’t getting enough calcium. Enjoy one of these foods to correct the problem.
Simple Carbs: Cravings for foods containing simple sugars (white flour, sugar, pasta, and rice) are often self-propagating. Read on for some helpful tips to combat carb-addiction.
2. Say “No” to Simple Carbs
If you find yourself craving foods containing simple sugars (white flour, sugar, pasta, and rice) often, the best advice is to simply eliminate them from your home. Clean out your pantry and replace foods containing simple sugars with whole grain bread, raw cane or brown sugar, whole wheat pasta, and brown or wild rice. Always remember to check the ingredients list on any packaged foods and don’t buy anything that contains sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.
If you’ve tried everything else listed here and still can’t seem to kick the urge to gorge yourself on simple carbohydrates, here’s one more trick that might work for you:
3. Get Mad (Just a Little)
This may sound like strange advice, but please read on.
Many manufacturers of the processed foods we crave add sugar and other chemicals to their products in “a conscious effort… to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive.” (The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food) In other words, snack manufacturers manipulate people into wanting to eat more and more of their unhealthy food – essentially destroying people’s health in the name of profit!
Think about this the next time you reach for a bag of greasy, salty, (and probably MSG-laden) chips at the grocery store: Someone somewhere is getting rich off of destroying your health. Indulge in a little righteous anger. It just might help to steer you toward a healthier alternative.
4. Psychological Conditioning
The next time you get the urge to snack on something unhealthy, tell yourself, “I don’t eat that!” Studies have proven that this simple technique has about an 80% success rate. For most people using the word “can’t” is a psychological trigger that makes you feel as though you’re being denied something that you want. Conversely, the word “don’t” makes you feel more empowered and confident in your choice. While this may sound silly at first, everyone should give it a try. After all, four out of five is pretty good odds. You just might surprise yourself.
Another great psychological technique to help us stick to our healthy eating habits is the art of visualization. Set a goal for yourself such as, “I want to be a size ____ by this time next year.” Find a picture of a person with the body-type that you’re aiming for, print it out, and attach a cut-out of your own face over theirs. Whenever you start to crave the foods you are trying to avoid, just pull out that picture and imagine that you already look like this person. It may sound silly, but this can be a great boost to your willpower.
6. Snack Substitution
If you find yourself continually turning to the same types of snack foods – chips, cookies, ice cream, etc. – ask yourself what it is about those foods that you crave. It may not be the flavor of the snack food that you’re attracted to. Sometimes the physical properties of the food are what we crave. If you enjoy crunchy snacks, try switching to another healthier option with a similar texture like carrots or raw almonds. If you like foods that are cold or frozen, fill and ice cube tray with ‘no sugar added’ fruit juice and snack on those instead. For a healthy alternative to chewy snacks, you might want to consider picking up some dried fruit or low-sugar granola bars.
7. Schedule a Cheat Day
The fastest way to sabotage any attempt to improve your eating habits is to carry around the knowledge that you will never have your favorite junk food(s) ever again. Pick a day and let that be your one “cheat day” every week. That way you can indulge a little without feeling guilty about breaking your diet.
8. Plan Ahead
When you do your grocery shopping, make a list of the healthy foods that you’re going to buy. Stick to your list and try to avoid any aisles that contain the junk foods you aim to eliminate from your diet. In fact, it’s best to avoid walking up and down the interior aisles in the store whenever possible as this is where most of the processed foods are shelved. Your best bet to find the healthiest foods is to shop along the perimeter of the store as much as possible. When you get home from the store, go ahead and prepare your healthy snacks ahead of time so they are easily-accessible when you have a craving.
9. Drink More, Eat Less
Drinking a glass of water, ‘no sugar added’ fruit juice, green tea, or other healthy beverage can be a great way to curb cravings and make you feel full at the same time. Also, the thirsty feeling that we get when we are dehydrated can feel a lot like a food craving. So remember to always reach for a drink first. If you still feel like you need to eat something after a few minutes, then turn to one of your healthy snacks to ease the craving. Also, if you’re one of the millions of people around the world who crave carbonated soft drinks, pick up a Soda Stream machine (also available with glass bottles instead of the default plastic.) This handy little device makes carbonated water to which you can then add whatever you want. Soda Stream offers a good selection of all-natural flavorings which you can purchase, or try some of these creative recipes:
For the all-natural soda enthusiast, there is Make Your Own Soda: Syrup Recipes for All-Natural Pop, Floats, Cocktails, and More
10. Wait it Out
When you find yourself experiencing a craving, find some way to distract yourself for fifteen to twenty minutes. Fold some laundry, wash dishes, or go for a walk. For stronger cravings, try three five-minute sets of vigorous exercises like squats, jumping jacks, and running in place. Most cravings will go away after a short time, especially if you aren’t really hungry.
11. Light a Scented Candle
Sometimes just the smell of something fruity or spicy is enough to curb a dessert craving. Light a candle that smells like something you enjoy. For a great selection of all-natural scented candles, check out BsaB and Way Out Wax.
12. Dark Chocolate
Not only is it full of antioxidants, dark chocolate also increases your body’s production of leptin – the hormone that tells your stomach when you are full. The next time you go to the natural food market, pick up a bar of organic dark chocolate (70% or greater.) Green & Blacks makes a delicious organic dark chocolate bar that is also high in iron. Or for something a little more exotic, try these delicious Dagoba chocolates. Just two small pieces (about a quarter of an ounce) will help you tune down your cravings in a most satisfying way.