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8 Tips for Craving Control

Updated: Jul 5, 2019

You’re working around the house and all of a sudden it hits you, “I need a cookie!” Or, the smell of chicken from a fast food restaurant lures you over for a delicious, buttery chicken biscuit! Maybe salty foods, like chips and popcorn, are your thing. Whatever you have a wild and inexplicable urge for, we all have them … CRAVINGS!

Doctors and scientists point to several reasons for cravings:

  • Emotions

  • Sleep

  • Hunger

  • Stress

  • Habit

  • Taste/Smell

  • Etc.

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There are a variety of different strategies that can be used to prevent cravings. Here are a few tips to try if you are trying to cut down on food cravings and make healthier choices:

  • Enjoy a small portion- Don't give up the foods you crave. In your overall healthy diet, include a small portion of the less healthy foods you crave. Better to enjoy a small square of chocolate every once in a while rather than having huge splurges.

  • Eat something healthy first- Before eating the cookie, try to eat some fruit or vegetables. It's often easier to eat less of the food you're craving if you're not ravenously hungry.

  • Keep the food you crave out of the house- If you don't have the food inside your house, then it makes it significantly more difficult to eat the food you may be craving. You wouldn't be able to just go to the pantry for your usual late night bag of chips. If you wanted the chips, you would then have to get in your car, go to the store, buy a bag, head home and then eat the chips. Buy a small portion of the item only when you plan to eat it, or order it at a restaurant.

  • Change your mental picture- When you experience a craving, replace the image of the food with a picture of yourself doing your favorite activity or some other pleasant image.

  • Distract yourself- Food cravings usually pass after 20 minutes. Try taking a walk or talking to a friend. Use this as a way to take your mind off of the craving and allow it to pass without acting upon it.

  • Chew gum- Sometimes you crave certain things because you're bored and you feel the need to do something. Chewing sugarless gum will satisfy your body's urge to chew and eat. This will then reduce cravings for sweet and salty snacks.

  • Get enough sleep and exercise- These habits help lower your levels of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates appetite. Lack of sleep can lead to food cravings and overeating. Also, when you exercise regularly you can feel a significant difference in your performance if you have been eating well versus when you have splurged a little. We want to do everything we can to continually feel better.

  • Substitute a healthier option- Satisfy your craving for something smooth and creamy with something low-fat or fat-free, such as yogurt, pureed fruit or buttermilk. Eat a piece of fruit as a healthy sweet snack.

Source: MayoClinic.org

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