Food cravings are our worst enemy. These are intense or uncontrollable desires for specific foods, stronger than normal hunger. Cravings are one of the biggest reasons why people have problems losing weight and keeping it off. Here are 7 simple ways to prevent or stop cravings.
1. Drink Water
Thirst is often confused with hunger or food cravings. If you feel a sudden urge for a specific food, try drinking a large glass of water and wait a few minutes. You may find that the craving fades away because your body was actually just thirsty. Furthermore, drinking plenty of water may have many health benefits. Drinking water before meals can reduce appetite and help with weight loss.
2. Eat More Protein
Eating more protein may reduce your appetite and keep you from overeating. It also reduces cravings and helps you feel full and satisfied for longer. One study of overweight teenage girls showed that eating a high-protein breakfast reduced cravings significantly. Another study in overweight men showed that increasing protein intake to 25% of calories reduced cravings by 60%. Additionally, the desire to snack at night was reduced by 50%.
3. Plan Your Meals
Plan your meals for the day or upcoming week. By already knowing what you're going to eat, you eliminate the factor of spontaneity and uncertainty. If you don't have to think about what to eat at the following meal, you will be less tempted and less likely to experience cravings.
4. Avoid Getting Extremely Hungry
Hunger is one of the biggest reasons why we experience cravings.To avoid getting extremely hungry, it may be a good idea to eat regularly and have healthy snacks close at hand. By being prepared, and avoiding long periods of hunger, you may be able to prevent the craving from showing up at all.
5. Fight Stress
Stress may induce food cravings and influence eating behaviors, especially for women. Women under stress have been shown to eat significantly more calories and experience more cravings than non-stressed women. Furthermore, stress raises your blood levels of cortisol, a hormone that can make you gain weight, especially in the belly area. Try to minimize stress in your environment by planning ahead, meditating and generally slowing down.
6. Get Enough Sleep
Your appetite is largely affected by hormones that fluctuate throughout the day. Sleep deprivation disrupts the fluctuations and may lead to poor appetite regulation and strong cravings. Studies support this, showing that sleep-deprived people are up to 55% more likely to become obese, compared to people who get enough sleep. For this reason, getting good sleep may be one of the most powerful ways to prevent cravings from showing up.
7. Eat Proper Meals
Hunger and a lack of key nutrients can both cause certain cravings. Therefore, it's important to eat proper meals at mealtimes. This way, your body gets the nutrients it needs and you won't get extremely hungry right after eating.
If you find yourself in need of a snack between meals, make sure it's something healthy. Reach for whole foods, such as fruits, nuts, vegetables or seeds.