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Health and Fitness News

Control the Cravings

Do you have food cravings? Of course you do. But you don’t have to let them win.

A commercial on TV, a stressful day, a party with friends, or just sitting around. All these can trigger food cravings. Unfortunately, you probably don’t crave carrot sticks and lean protein. Most people crave high-calorie foods with little nutritional value—chocolate cake, candies, chips, and soda. Wouldn’t weight loss be so much easier if you craved healthy things?

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight through dieting, you know the battle isn’t easy. After all, old habits die hard. When cravings hit, it can be impossible to resist, especially if you feel emotionally weak, believe you deserve a treat, or want to give up.

As you work toward your weight loss goal, you have to be smart about how you handle cravings. If you’re not careful, they can sabotage your efforts. Here’s how to stay a step ahead of them.

Eat Snacks

When you’re hungry or feel deprived, you’re more likely to overindulge when a craving hits. One way to avoid this is to snack on a regular schedule. Snacks keep your tummy from rumbling and your metabolism humming.

A couple hours after breakfast and in the middle of the afternoon, allow yourself a healthy snack. Focus on snacks that are nutrient-dense. Look for something that contains a source of fiber to fill you up and a source of protein to provide lasting energy. Need ideas? Try a handful of trail mix, apple slices with peanut butter, Greek yogurt with berries, or whole grain crackers with hummus. Keep healthy, simple options on hand.

Find a Distraction

To avoid giving in to cravings, become a master of distraction. As soon as you feel your mouth watering for a soda or you can’t stop thinking about the donuts in the breakroom, distract yourself. Go on a walk, call a friend, or read a book. After a few minutes, you may forget about the soda or donut. Distraction can go a long way in keeping you from losing the fight.

Recognize Emotional Eating

Before caving to your craving, stop for a moment. Then ask yourself what you’re really hungry for. Do you really want that candy bar, or are you just bored, stressed, lonely, or sad? Many people turn to food as a way to cope with negative emotions.

Sure, the food offers comfort and distraction for a moment. However, it can perpetuate a cycle of overeating. You feel guilty for eating poorly, so you overeat again. And the cycle continues. To beat this cycle, learn healthy ways of managing your emotions. Talk to a counselor or friend, go for a run, or take a hot bath.

Keep a Food Journal

To gain control over your cravings, you need to do things. 1. Recognize their triggers. 2. Learn the best way to handle them.

A helpful way to do this is to keep a food journal. Apps on your phone make this easy, but pen and paper can get the job done as well. Note your craving—the time of day, what you were doing when the craving hit, how long it lasted, and what you did about it. Each day you do this, you’ll become more aware of your triggers. As a result, you’ll be able to take action that reduces your cravings. You may avoid certain situations or head off a craving before it can take hold.

Allow Occasional Indulgences

Many people find their resolve is weakest when they’re completely deprived of their favorite foods. Because of this, it can be helpful to allow yourself an occasional indulgence.

Every once in a while, it’s okay to enjoy a small piece of pie, a scoop of ice cream, or a small soda. The key is portion size. Keep it small. Once you have that last bite, get back to work. You’ve got weight to lose!