If you’re trying to live a healthier lifestyle, food cravings can throw a wrench in your plans. It’s hard to break the habit of eating bad food, especially when it tastes so good! Today we’re gonna give you some easy ways to eat healthier for the long haul. Do you have to give up all the sweet stuff?
1_ Know What Triggers You
When it comes to food cravings, everyone has different tastes. What you find hard to resist may be easy for someone else to cut out entirely. That’s why it’s important to identify what foods are triggers for you. For example, if you love milk chocolate it’s best to avoid going to places that sell this kind of food and to also avoid bringing any home. If you don’t have any of your favourite sweets in the house, you won’t be able to snack on it later. Instead have healthier options readily available like fruit or trail mix. These kinds of foods can still satisfy a sweet tooth, but they won’t be as damaging to your health. Eventually, the cravings should lessen the more you practice. Our next tip is one that will help no matter what the craving is…
2_ Drink Water
We know, we say this in almost every video, but that’s only because it’s true. Drinking water has 101 health benefits from keeping you hydrated to help your body function and keeps your mood at its best, but did you know that thirst is sometimes mistaken as hunger? If you feel a sudden craving take hold of you, a good strategy is to drink a tall glass of water and wait a few minutes to see how you feel. You may have just been thirsty all along. If you’re an older adult drinking more water throughout the day can help reduce your appetite in general and eventually help with weight loss. The next point is all about the motivation…
3_ Picture Your Payoff
Keeping a journal or making a collage of your goals can help you stay strong mentally when it comes to food cravings. If you can have an image or a goal written down that inspires you to keep going, it’ll help you get through the harder moments. If you keep track of your journey in a notebook and can refer back to it at will to see all of the progress you’ve made already, that doughnut might not look as tempting as it once did. Research shows that keeping a diary of your food intake is also a great tool to help with weight loss.
4_ Give Up The Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners can be a great substitute for sugar for folks with diabetes or those wanting to bring down their sugar intake in general. We recommend that you try and go cold turkey off of the sugary and the artificially sugary stuff. Your body is still receiving a blast of sweetness which won’t do you any favours to get over any unwanted cravings. Artificial sweeteners can make you crave more sugar in the long run. Those who give it up completely tend to have more success in healthy eating than those who do not.
5_ Give yourself a Cheat Day
Banning all your favourite foods forever is only going to take the task of cutting back seem even more out of reach. You’re more likely to feel deprived and in turn, more likely to binge on those particular foods down the line. You want to set yourself up for success and that includes allowing yourself a cheat day every once in a while.
Perhaps Sunday’s are where you don’t avoid sugar altogether. Remember some sugars are worse for you than others. Or, maybe it’s your birthday and you want a small piece of cake. If you allow yourself this small treat every once in a while, you’re much more likely to stick to the overall plan and keep your goals. Speaking of keeping things realistic…
6_ Replace Instead of Restrict
The idea of avoiding certain foods that you crave is how you will overcome these cravings, but you have to do it in a way that won’t leave you feeling deprived and lost when it comes to food. This means substituting poor choices for healthy ones! For example swap potato chips for kale chips, french fries for sweet potato fries. A breakfast bagel, for a breakfast smoothie.
There are lots of great recipes that can help you keep some of the flavours you love, and allow you to eat healthy at the same time. If you’re looking for more ideas on which foods to swap for healthy alternatives check out our video called “Swapping These Foods Will Change Your Life”. If you’re trying to cut back on sugar specifically then watch this video called “7 Natural Sweeteners That Are Much Better For You Than Sugar”.
7_ Avoid Getting Extremely Hungry
Have you ever gotten so hungry you become angry at the world?
No one has ever made a productive decision while they’re ravenous, so our advice? Don’t let yourself get to that point. Hunger is when we experience most of our cravings, so if you have a plan for when hunger strikes you’re already ahead of the game, and you won’t put yourself in a position to make poor choices because you were hungry. This also touches on our first point about not having junk food in the house. If you’re craving a cookie, but all you have are apples, you’ll probably just have an apple and feel just as satisfied.
8_ Eat Proper Meals
This might come as a surprise but one sure-fire way to avoid sudden cravings is to make sure you’re getting enough protein and fibre in your day. Research shows that if you start the day off with a healthy breakfast that is full of protein and fibre, it’ll keep you feeling satisfied for a lot longer than if you just have a cup of coffee. Not only that, it’ll cut your cravings for high-fat foods later in the day. So don’t skip meals and make sure they’re healthy and full of things your body needs like vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein. Speaking of regular meals that brings us to the next point.
9_ Mindful Eating
When you do sit down to a meal, try not to be distracted by watching TV and give yourself enough time to enjoy the food you’re eating. Throwing down a meal in 5 minutes or less will do nothing for your health goals, and will only encourage weight gain and overeating later on.
When you cook a meal at home, you can control what you put into your food, but you can also give yourself time and space to eat that food properly. Studies show that slowly eating a meal can help you to feel fuller, can decrease your hunger later on, and is proven to be a useful tool to avoid overeating. If you feel more full, you’ll experience fewer cravings throughout the day.
10_ Incorporate Healthy Habits
When you feel a strong craving come on for some ice cream and you’re finding it hard to resist, that’s the perfect time to take yourself out for a nice walk. Research has shown that even something as short as a brisk 15-minute walk can help control cravings for something sweet or sugary. Not to mention adding in a workout routine of any kind can help motivate you to stick to your healthy food goals. But it doesn’t always have to be exercise, which brings us to the next point.
11_ Keep Your Mind Occupied.
When you find yourself hit with a sudden craving one of the best tactics is to distract yourself. Maybe you have a good book you’re reading, a picture you’re painting or maybe it’s a puzzle that you’re trying to solve. Any distraction you can give your brain will allow you to think about something other than the craving. One study showed that playing Tetris can reduce the frequency, strength and vividness of a naturally occurring craving.
12_ Reduce Stress
Stress is a bad word in the health community, and too much of it can cause harm to both your mental and physical health. Of course, one of the side effects of chronic stress can be elevated cortisol levels which can also elevate levels of hunger, overeating, binge eating, and weight gain. So how do you combat this side effect? You try and get rid of some of the stress in your life. Meditation, making plans with friends, exercising and breathing techniques are all great ways to help reduce stress levels.
13_ Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Being tired can affect your life negatively in many ways, and your appetite is one of them. Like all things in your life, it’s just easier to manage when you’ve gotten enough sleep. Studies show that sleep deprivation can fluctuate the hormones that lead to poor appetite regulation and stronger cravings. Not to mention studies also point to a 55% increased risk of obesity if you’re sleep-deprived, compared to those to get the recommended 7-8 hours per night.
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