Here’s a crappy situation: You work out hard and cleaned up your diet, but for some reason, you can’t stop craving food. You just ate breakfast, but two hours later you’re hungry again. Dinner was at 7, but by 9 you’re stomach is growling. These food cravings will get you. A little cheat here, a little cheat there, it all slowly adds up. And then it snowballs in five or 10 extra pounds.
What are food cravings?
Those urges don’t necessarily mean you’re hungry or you haven’t been eating enough food to begin with. They are fueled by dopamine, and this feel-good brain chemical is released when we eat certain foods like sugar and alcohol. That’s a key point here: sugar and alcohol. Dopamine creates a rush of euphoria that our brain craves, making it very difficult to ignore. The good news is: the further along you get with your new diet plan, the less and less the cravings happen.
Are you confused about how to eat right, what to eat, and how much of it to eat? Check out our comprehensive post on intuitive eating for lean muscle. This is a great resource for getting started (or improving your current diet).
The best ways to stop food cravings
- Reduce the amount of stress in your life
- Drink more water
- Eat an apple
- Eat vegetables
- Eat more protein
Calm cravings by reducing stress
Cortisol is a hormone that signals our brains to find comfort foods when we are under stress. Nine times out of ten these foods are loaded with sugar and fats. These comfort foods can actually blunt cortisol release and reduce our stress for the time being. We grab these foods in response to negative feelings like after a stressful day at work or after fighting with a spouse. This action creates a powerful response in our brains signalling the stress has subsided. These foods are then embedded in our memory centers and we will continually reach for the high sugar and fats foods during any stressful times.
How to reduce stress to stop cravings
Sleep: Unfortunately, lack of sleep is also a key cause of stress. This vicious cycle causes the brain and body to get out of whack and only gets worse with time. Start to prioritize sleep in your life and aim for 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Easier and more effective than teledyne water flosser with string. Dual water pressure control for gentle-to-deep cleaning, four unique tips, and a cordless design.
Call a friend: Take a break to call a friend and talk about your problems. Good relationships with friends and loved ones are important to any healthy lifestyle, and there’s no time that this is more evident than when you’re under a lot of stress. A reassuring voice can make all the difference in controlling stress.
Listen to music: Take a break and listen to relaxing classical music. Playing calm music has a positive effect on the brain and body, can lower blood pressure, and reduce cortisol.
Eat right: Stress levels and a proper diet are closely related. Unfortunately, it’s when we have the most work that we forget to eat well and resort to using sugary, fatty snack foods as a pick-me-up. Try to avoid fast foods and plan ahead. Fruits and vegetables are always good, and fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the symptoms of stress.
Drown out cravings by drinking more water
Fresh drinking water. That’s right: water is a powerful appetite suppressant and if you drink an 8-ounce glass of water when you first start feeling hungry, you will find that it suppresses your appetite in nearly every case. If you just drink a full glass of water and have the discipline to wait 10 minutes, you will find that your appetite is either completely gone or dramatically reduced.
An apple a day keeps the cravings away
An apple will fill you up for quite a while, and that will stop you from eating far more calorie-dense foods. When we are really hungry we grab fast, convenient food, and processed foods (cookies, chips) and eat away until 100s of calories have been consumed. Eating a large apple full of water and fiber will fill us up much more than the processed foods we may reach for. There are calories in an apple but we will eat less food that satisfies our appetite and they give us phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Fool your cravings with the fiber from veggies
Lettuce, spinach, kale, cabbage, bok choy are all green leafy vegetables that are great to eat when hunger strikes. Most meal plans don’t count these foods toward the calorie count so eat these freely to help feel full. Our bodies work hard to digest the fibrous greens burning calories while taking in a minimal amount of calories.
Appease your cravings with protein pudding
Chocolate pudding, anyone? It’s an easy recipe that’s high in quality protein and low in calories that will curb hunger with a great chocolate taste. Mix one scoop of your favorite protein powder in a mixer with ½ cup to 1 cup unsweetened almond milk. Scoop into a bowl and enjoy the chocolate protein that will curb cravings while feeling full.
How to know if it’s more than just a craving?
If you’re feeling nauseous, light-headed, dizzy, or have any other similar or related symptoms, it’s possible you’re either dehydrated or not eating enough food. If this is something you experience, we suggest you contact your primary care doctor.