Most everyone experiences unhealthy food cravings from time to time. Seeing a donut in the shop window or smelling pizza cooking in the oven can trigger a strong momentary response in almost anyone, no matter how healthy his or her diet. There are several reasons for this, but it is important to remember that beating cravings is possible.
A craving is a complex psychological reaction, sometimes in response to a physical impetus. Cravings can mean that you are missing a certain key element from your diet; for example, people who crave salt often find that they are missing certain electrolytes or are dehydrated. Cravings for sweets and junk food, however, are nearly always psychological in nature and can be turned off with the right techniques.
Here are five ways to curb food cravings and stay on a healthy eating plan.
1) Carry healthy snacks with you. Often, having something else to eat can head off a craving for an unhealthy snack. Carrying small amounts of nuts, cheese or whole-grain crackers with peanut butter, all of which offer satisfying protein, can curb most momentary food cravings.
2) Stay focused. People tend to snack more when they are distracted. For example, a person who is checking email or talking on the phone may eat much more than a person who portions out a snack and sits down to eat it at the table.
3) Do something else. Sometimes an intense craving vanishes as quickly as it came. Going for a walk or taking care of a few chores before indulging may cause the craving to disappear.
4) Eat an alternative. Cravings for ice cream can sometimes be pushed aside with a frozen fruit bar. Instead of eating fried foods, try “oven frying” with a healthy fat and Parmesan cheese as a “breading.” Eating alternatives that are similar to the foods being craved, but healthier, can keep a diet on track.
5) Give in occasionally. People are much less likely to gorge on unhealthy foods when they have an occasional, allowable “cheat.” Choose one meal per week at which to eat dessert or onion rings, and you will be much less likely to gorge on those foods at an inappropriate time.
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Staff; How the Pros Curb Food Cravings; Health; accessed August 4, 2015.