For me, one of the most difficult parts of this entire weight loss journey is knowing how to make the right choices when a craving strikes. Whether it be for the jar of peanut butter, a delicious piece of pizza, or the Hersey’s kisses in the candy jar, I get cravings regularly, and they’re often the reason my day doesn’t go as planned. Let’s face it, if we didn’t have to fight off cravings, odds are we wouldn’t be in the situation where we need to lose weight anyway, right? What’s a gal to do?
What we need are ways to conquer our cravings so we can take back control and eat the things we want when we decide to rather than allow a craving to decide for us. Here are 6 tips to help you (and me) beat those cravings next time we’re wanting something that doesn’t fit into our day.
- Assess your hunger situation. First things first: are you craving a candy bar because you’re actually hungry? Guzzle a big glass of water, give you body a few minutes, and then decide if you’re physically hungry. If it turns out you are, your craving is likely your mind’s way of getting you to feed your body ASAP. Rather than give in to your craving, go ahead and eat a plan friendly snack. Have some fruit and yogurt, a protein bar, or veggies and ranch dip (this ranch by Skinny Kitchen is my new favorite). Odds are once you satisfy your hunger, your craving will go away.
- Use your hands. It’s really hard to eat if you’re busy using your hands for something else. Paint your nails so you can’t reach into any bags or open wrappers for awhile. Take up knitting so you can keep your hands busy while you’re watching tv. Busy hands mean you can’t eat and do your activity at the same time. Not well, anyway.
- Get physical. I find a great way to kick a craving is to get moving. If it’s nice out I will go for a walk and get some fresh air. If I’m stuck inside I’ll either go to the gym if I haven’t worked out yet that day or I’ll do some cleaning or go to the mall (for steps and window shopping). A bonus of this tip is you not only distract your mind, but you get extra steps in and maybe even a few chores done.
- Distract your mind. Cravings are often all in your head, so why not give your head something else to think about? Pick up a good book and read for half an hour or work on a puzzle of your choice. My personal favorites are sudoku puzzles. Getting your mind focused on something else will distract you from your craving and after a few minutes, you might forget your craving goodies altogether.
- Write it out. Journaling is a really powerful tool for many different situations. For me, my journal is a sounding board where I write out all of my frustrations and struggles, and lately, a lot of them have been about my struggles with weight loss. Brain dumping on paper is a great way to get your thoughts out of your head and maybe even discover what’s behind those thoughts. Too many times I’ve realized that I’m trying to satisfy some other emotion with food, which is causing me to struggle on my diet. It’s amazing what you’ll discover about yourself once you start to write things down.
- Don’t deprive yourself. Let’s be honest, most of the time we crave something because we have this “deprivation mindset” that makes us think that we can’t have something, therefore we want it even more. Since there’s really no such thing as a short term diet anyway, you have to figure out how to make your healthy lifestyle sustainable for the rest of your life. Now, unless you want to be pretty miserable, that means learning how to incorporate your favorite foods into your life in moderation. You can still have your cake and eat it too, just not the whole cake and not every day. Do you love cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory? Then when you go out order off of their light menu and then enjoy every bite of that decadent dessert. Feel free to enjoy your Chicago style deep dish pizza, but maybe only once a month. When you stop thinking of foods as “bad,” “off-limits,” or as something you can’t have, it automatically triggers something in your brain that makes you want it that much more. Instead, tell yourself you can have it whenever you want but you’re choosing not to right now. This gives you all of the power and control, making it easier to keep cravings at bay.
There are many other tips for curbing your cravings out there, but these are just a few of my favorites. What techniques do you use to conquer your food cravings? Let me know your suggestions in the comments!