6 Tips to Reduce Cravings
By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD
Everyone experiences food cravings. They manifest as intense desires for a specific food or nutrient. A desire for sugary foods is a common craving, but you can have cravings for any type of food.
While cravings are a normal occurrence, they can lead to unintentional overeating and may occur more often that you want. The good news is that there are several ways to reduce cravings by addressing some of their root causes.
It is important to note that these tips can help reduce and prevent cravings, but that some cravings may still occur. In these instances, it may be beneficial to honor the craving with the food you want.
Here are 6 ways to reduce cravings and prevent overeating associated with them.
1. Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water may prevent cravings. When you are not well hydrated, your body confuses thirst with hunger and can lead you to eating more than you need. Stay hydrated by carrying a reusable water bottle, drinking water at and between meals, and trying naturally flavored waters to mix it up.
2. Eat Protein
Eating protein is associated with improved satiety and reduced cravings. Eggs, lean meats, beans, and nuts and seeds all provide protein. Next time you experience a craving, reach for a protein-rich snack such as a hard boiled egg or plain Greek yogurt.
3. Make Sure you are Eating Enough
Not eating enough at meals can cause strong cravings. Include protein, complex carbohydrates and vegetables, and healthy fat at every meal to ensure your body gets the nutrients it needs. If you restrict a nutrient, such as carbs or fat, you may find yourself feeling hungry shortly after you eat.
4. Eat Often
To help limit cravings, try to avoid getting extremely hungry or skipping meals. Most people experience fewer cravings if they intentionally eat a meal or snack every 3 to 5 hours. Be prepared when hunger strikes with on-the-go healthy snacks, such as nuts, raw vegetables, or jerky.
5. Identify Emotional Eating
Next time you have a craving, ask yourself what factors are influencing your feelings. Did you have a stressful meeting at work, and immediately wanted a cookie? Were you preparing for a deadline and found yourself munching on chips? Maybe you simply felt bored and baked cookies for something to do. If you can identify and address your triggers in a different way, you may be less likely to have cravings or overeat.
6. Get 7 to 8 Hours of Sleep
There’s a reason why that donut looks especially good after a night of restless sleep. You’ve heard it here before, but sleep is incredibly important! When it comes to cravings, feeling tired can lead you to reaching for sugary and high carb foods that give an immediate boost of energy. To avoid this, try to get at least 7 hours of rest a night.
Note from Healthy for Life Meals: Eating balanced meals with a variety of foods can help prevent cravings. It's common for our clients to report that by the end of their second week with Healthy For Life Meals, their cravings are nonexistent. Get started today.