One of the biggest obstacles to losing weight and building a healthy lifestyle is controlling cravings. To put it simply, we all have those days when we cannot control what our stomach says or wants. No matter how hard we try to stop ourselves from opening the refrigerator, we always end up munching on a big pack of potato chips or indulging in a pint of store-bought ice cream.
A quick taste won’t hurt, right? While this may be true, what we should be concerned about is when this becomes a habit. That “little” taste could eventually lead to you finishing an entire gallon in one sitting or emptying a bag of potato chips.
Remember that these junk foods are called junk for a reason. They may satisfy your cravings at the moment, but they do not offer any nutritional value. In short, after a few hours, you might find yourself in your kitchen again looking for something to eat. They are high in sugar, salt, and fat that do not really go well with your diet and the fitness goals you set for the year.
The good news is, there are things you can do to fix this. Here are some tips that will help you stop unhealthy food cravings. Let’s talk about them one by one.
There are times when we mistake thirst for hunger or food cravings. If you feel a sudden urge to eat a specific food, try drinking a big glass of water and wait for a few minutes. After a short period, the craving will fade away because your body was actually just thirsty. Additionally, drinking plenty of water has many health benefits. For middle-aged and older people, drinking water in the morning and before every meal can reduce appetite and help with weight loss. Famous celebrities and other health enthusiasts use this trick to help them eat less during meals.
Eating more protein
Eating more protein reduces your appetite and keeps you from overeating. It also reduces cravings and helps you feel full and satisfied for longer hours. One study showed that people who have high-protein breakfasts reduced their cravings significantly. Another study among overweight men showed that increasing protein to 25% of calories reduced cravings by 60% and their midnight cravings by 50%.
When you already feel that craving rising up from your stomach, try to distance or distract yourself away from the food. For example, taking a brisk walk outside or taking a shower shifts your mind into something else. Setting your mind on something other than food diverts your attention from it and allows you to do other things that need to be done instead of binge-eating.
Planning your meals
Meal prepping and planning is also a good way to control those cravings. Planning ahead what food you’ll be consuming during the day cultivates self-discipline and helps your body know and get used to which certain food to eat at what time. This helps you avoid spontaneous cravings and lets you control how many calories you’ll be taking for a snack or meal. Just stick to your meal plan and stay committed to it.
Avoiding crash-dieting and food deprivation
Hunger is one of the biggest reasons why we experience cravings. To avoid getting extremely hungry, it may be a good idea to eat regularly and keep healthy snacks within reach. By being prepared and avoiding long periods of hunger, you may be able to prevent the craving from happening altogether.
You can try to stretch the usual three meals a day into five light meals so you won’t have to wait for long hours before eating again.
Getting enough sleep
Studies have shown that sleep-deprived people are up to 55% more likely to gain weight, compared to people who get enough sleep. For this reason, getting enough sleep may be one of the most powerful ways to prevent cravings from showing up. Additionally, sleeping during the right time for rest can help you avoid midnight cravings because instead of thinking about what you want to eat, your body is already in sleep mode where you forget all about those unhealthy food cravings.
Not going to the grocery while you are hungry
Grocery stores are probably the worst places to be when you are hungry or have cravings. First, they give you easy access to pretty much any food you could think of. Second, grocery stores have the widest range of unhealthy foods and they place it all in the same aisle for easy access. So when you decide to go grocery shopping, make sure to eat first so you won’t grab any junk food you come across. The best way to avoid giving in to your unhealthy cravings is not having them at all in your cupboard.
Practicing mindful eating
Mindful eating is a type of meditation in relation to food and eating. It helps you become aware of and understand your eating habits, emotions, hunger, and cravings.
It teaches you to distinguish the difference between cravings and actual physical hunger. It helps you choose your response, instead of acting impulsively. Eating mindfully involves being present while you eat, slowing down, and chewing thoroughly. One 6-week study on binge-eaters found that mindful eating reduced binge-eating episodes from 4 to 1.5 per week. Being aware of your cravings and their triggers makes them much easier to avoid.
Follow the tips on this list and you might succeed in overcoming your cravings for unhealthy food. But another great tip for you to curb these unhealthy cravings is by exercising regularly. Exercising improves our brain and cognitive processes that help us regulate junk food consumption and reduces stress.
Studies have shown how exercises such as running, cycling, and swimming actually decrease appetite by changing the levels of hormones that drive our state of hunger. Besides this, it also helps in burning unwanted calories.
Tracking your health progress is also important for you to understand and know what’s going on inside your body. For us to get a clearer picture of our health, the Vivosmart 5 Advanced fitness tracker provides its users with smart health-monitoring features so you can do more in life with optimum health and wellness.
The Vivosmart 5 is a compact smartwatch that alerts you whenever you’re too stressed, seated for too long, not drinking enough water, or when your menstrual cycle starts so you can make health your lifestyle. It is also built with interchangeable bands, making band replacements easy, convenient, and perfect for your unique style.
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