The lure of decadent chocolates, the whiff of freshly baked muffins and the crunch of French fries can weaken most disciplined dieters.
We read about ‘Why do I get Cravings’ in our earlier article and now its time to learn to tame these urges and food cravings. Listed below are the 5 Best Ways to Control Food Cravings’.
5 Best ways to Control Food Cravings
1. Don’t let the ‘craving’ to boss you around.
The best strategy to conquer the cravings is to ‘be in charge’. Just tell yourself that you are in control and not that craving. If we learn to distinguish between ‘physiological craving ‘(body’s hunger) and the ‘psychological urge’ (mind’s hunger), then half the battle is already won. An easy test for that is to distract oneself by speaking to a friend, listening to music or going out for a stroll and if the craving disappears, it surely was the psychological one. Furthermore, don’t wait to eat something till you experience the gnawing hunger pangs. Studies show that our determination to eat healthily is more likely to get eroded when we are physiologically hungry. This is usually the case with people who skip meals and then “overeat”, as it’s comparatively easy to brush aside our cravings but virtually impossible to ‘fight off’ real clinical hunger signals.
To stop this from happening,
- Set a disciplined eating routine and try to include as many nutrient dense and fiber rich foods as possible in the diet.
- Eat regularly with a gap of 3-4 hours to avoid letting the cravings creep in.
- Include a variety of foods in your diet without cutting out on any particular food group completely. The craving for a particular food which you have starved your body of is more likely to intensify under stress.
- Satisfy all tastes and textures that your tongue craves for- salty, sweet, sour, pungent, bitter and bland. When all tastes are satisfied, cravings will be controlled naturally!
- Avoiding the triggers may also work to curb cravings. “Take a different route to work if it’s impossible to drive by the doughnut shop without stopping”, suggests nutritionists.
2. Choose Wisely
Our state of health is not only governed by what we choose to eat but also by what we choose not to. Following a diet that keeps us hungry means going against our body’s will. The answer lies in choosing foods that counter hunger.
- Add a consistent supply of low GI fiber rich foods throughout the day, without long gaps in between, to keep your blood sugar and serotonin levels in control.
- All forms of refined sugar like chocolates, colas, candies, ice creams and simple carbs such as white bread, noodles, wafers, white rice etc are best restricted as they trigger cravings.
- On the other hand fiber dense foods such as whole wheat, millets, bran, fresh fruits, leafy veggies, and healthy proteins like tofu, beans, nuts, sprouts will keep us full for a longer time and keep cravings at bay.
3. Feed your body with ‘ mood boosting’ nutrients
Needless to say, the USP of ‘processed foods’ containing the deadly trio- salt, sugar and fat is the absolute ‘bliss’ provided by them. A bag of chocolate chip cookies or potato chips will provide much of an endorphin rush than a stick of carrot. But there are foods and specific nutrients that can help you to feel better without the guilt pangs.
- Zinc is an essential minerals that aids in combating depression and emotional stress. Seafood, leafy vegetables, root vegetables contain zinc.
- Calcium can bring about 50% reduction in mood swings, irritability, abdominal pain and improves concentration. Boost your calcium intake with dairy products, radish and cauliflower greens, green leafy vegetables, and legumes.
- Studies show that low blood levels of folate and vitamin B12 may be related to depression. Foods rich in these vitamins include fortified whole-grain cereals, dark green veggies such as kale, collard greens, beans, oatmeal, beets, broccoli, wheat germ, shellfish, cottage cheese and eggs.
- Sea vegetables like kelp (sea weed) help in providing valuable minerals to the nutrient-depleted body. Wheat grass juice can also provide concentrated nutrients to boost our moods.
- Stock up your kitchen shelves with low fat and sugar free versions of foods that you crave the most.
- Eating sweet fresh fruits is a better way to give in to your sweet tooth than eating sweets. Fruits provide you with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, minus the calorie overload.
- Opt for natural sources of sugar such as honey, jaggery, raisins and dates whenever you get the sugar craving. But remember, though these natural sources are better choices as compared to refined sugar foods, they still pack in loads of calories and must be eaten in moderation.
5. Get Going
A 30 minute exercise daily will help to control cravings by releasing feel-good chemicals called ‘endorphins. Try breathing exercises, sleeping well and meditation to combat stress and associated emotional eating.
Life will always have its stresses, but dealing with stress in a healthful, nutritional way can have a positive impact on self-esteem, energy level, emotional outlook, and weight. Be assertive, be positive and conquering cravings and being healthier may no longer be a distant reality.
Written by Panchali Moitra