Why do people crave foods? Discover the psychological and physical causes of food cravings and food addiction.
It's hard to resist food cravings. Learn how to curb food cravings, stop food craving using these simple, but effective techniques.
Physical cravings for food may be a result of low fat intake or low blood sugar. For many of us, the mid-afternoon cravings we feel are merely our body's way of telling us it has been too long since lunch and we actually need to eat. A piece of fruit, yogurt, or a handful of nuts can get the blood sugar levels back up and keep us from reaching for the no-no snacks we think we're craving.
Ways to Stop Food Craving
If the food cravings have nothing to do with missing a meal, here are other steps to stop food craving.
- Using portion control, transition yourself off your favorite snacks, desserts, red meat, etc. over a week to two week period. Substitute in more healthy foods.
- Keep a food diary to monitor the time of day and duration of your food cravings. See if there is a pattern. Then use water and/or healthy snacks for controlling food cravings.
- Don't use high calorie sodas and high sugar fruit juices to quench your thirst. Instead drink plenty of water throughout the day to satisfy your hydration needs.
- Instead of eating 3 meals a day, doctors recommend eating 6 smaller, but healthy meals throughout the day. This keeps your blood sugar from getting too low, spurring a desire to eat sugary, salty snacks and food and making it difficult to resist food cravings.
- Our last tip to stop food cravings involves developing a support network; family, friends who will help you with controlling food cravings. Share your goals with them and ask them to support you in your efforts in stopping food cravings.
Read more comprehensive information on Food Addiction.
How to Curb Food Cravings
If you're not physically hungry, here are several recommendations for how to curb food cravings from Rebecca Wilborn, director of the Midtown Diet Center in New York City.
- Brush your teeth and gargle with an antiseptic mouthwash like Listerine. "Part of wanting to eat is the taste. Nothing tastes good after you've gargled with Listerine," Wilborn says.
- Distract yourself. "Take yourself out of the situation for 45 minutes to an hour," says Wilborn. "Then if you still want whatever it is you're craving, have a small amount."
- Relax with deep breathing exercises or meditation
- Choose a healthy substitute. If you want ice cream, spoon up some fat-free, sugar-free ice cream, frozen yogurt, or sorbet. Wilborn also recommends freezing a container of Dannon Light yogurt. "It takes on a wonderful consistency," she says. If you want potato chips, try baked tortilla chips instead.
- Listen to your cravings. If you want something salty, you may very well need salt. Add salt to your food instead of having salty snacks.
- If you know what situations trigger your cravings, avoid them if possible.
- Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day. "Often hunger is a signal that we're thirsty," says Wilborn.
- But allow yourself some moments of weakness, too. "Give in now and then," Wilborn says. "It's really not healthy to be so rigid."
Read more information about: What Causes Food Cravings?
Jennifer Grana, a registered dietitian with the Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease in Pittsburgh, agrees that if there is no medical reason for you to avoid your favorite snacks, you should cut yourself some slack. "If you're reaching for a bag of chips only now and then, that's OK." As long as 80% of your food intake is good for you, you can play with that other 20%, she says.
Think of your favorite foods as a reward, she says -- a small treat after you've finished your exercise for the day, perhaps. "Don't think of a food craving as a negative," she says. "For most people, anything is OK in moderation."
- Rebecca Wilborn, Director of the Midtown Diet Center in New York City
- Jennifer Grana, Registered Dietitian with the Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease