Pop in that extra potato chip, gorge on those crispy french fries, swirl in some cool ice cream and feel that chocolate melt in your mouth! We have all been there done that. Indulge in unconscious food intake to fulfil that sudden craving. It feels amazing to give in, but the aftermath is almost always like a bad hangover. Want to know how to overcome food craving?
Let’s look at 7 common triggers and how to not let them crash your system.
Brave those cold winters
It’s bitterly cold outside and you have nowhere to go. Cold weather demands food to make you feel warmer. Add to it some boredom and we have a recipe for an undeniable food craving. We don’t really have to build up our fat reserves like those bears who have to hibernate for these cold winters. Then why do we seem to reach out to those high calorie feel good sugary delights when the days turn cold and nights even colder?
One reason is ready availability of high calorie fat filled treats through the extended winter holiday months of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Another reason is when day light fades out much early, we tend to seek food early and in larger quantities to feel good and cope with the longer darker nights. So in summary, food craving could also be seasonal.
How do we overcome food craving in those cold months? Warm it up with a piping hot cup of tea or coffee. Close to bed time? Then opt for a soothing warm chamomile tea or a decaf. Opt for lean protein meats such as fish which will provide healthier fats. Remember even bears love their salmon!
Beat boredom or depression
A tub of ice-cream or loads of chocolate to cure that streak of boredom or worst still a case of heartache? This is a natural choice because food serves as a good distraction and that sugar high is mistaken for happiness. And how can one resist this amazing looking banana split?
When you find yourself craving for that sugar high, distract yourself with choices other than food to overcome food craving. Call a friend or better still head out and meet one. Go for a refreshing walk or a hike. Pursue some activity that you enjoy – such as read a book, write your journal, plan your next vacation!
Avoid Skipping Meals
We don’t have enough time in the day to get things done. Quite often we find ourselves preoccupied and don’t think much about skipping or delaying meals. And what makes us remember them? Excessive and sudden undying hunger. This is when we tend to eat the very first thing that comes to hand. We tell ourselves, let me grab this cookie or chips quickly and eat properly later or find ourselves in front of the vending machine.
How can we be more diligent about not skipping that breakfast again and overcome food craving? Plan for an early start to your day. Make time for breakfast. Also, set meal reminders to eat on time. Have healthy snacks on hand for busy days and between meal cravings. Keep a set of healthy take out menus at hand for crazy days that don’t give enough time to cook that meal at home. Think ahead and arrange for food delivery. That will keep the 30 minute delivery for pizza and molten lava cake at bay!
Limit your love for foodie shows
We all love those food network shows and recipe posts on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest with their delicious and picture perfect food visuals. The more we watch these high calorie sugary images, the greater the temptation to reach out for the real thing. According to a recent study, if you watch a high calorie food image for as little as ten minutes, it can induce a food craving.
Want to curb those hunger pangs? Try sniff these fragrant delights – Jasmine, Peppermint, Sandalwood or Vanilla especially for sugary treats. Research suggests that if you try to inhale or imagine an aroma, it could have a profound impact on reducing food cravings. Also be watchful of which shows or videos increase your food craving. Limit the time you spend viewing these triggers. Instead, opt to watch TV shows or browse through videos and posts that show healthy delicious recipes instead.
Lower stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety cause an increase in the hormone cortisol in our system. Cortisol in turn stimulates appetite and generates a sudden craving for something sugary or salty. Due to these increased cortisol levels, you will find yourself reaching out for some chips or some sugar succour.
How do we let stress not get ahead of us and overcome food craving? Take deep slow breaths and relax. Find 15 minutes in your day to meditate – it calms your mind and helps you focus much better. Listen to your favorite music. Go for a walk and get some fresh air and sunshine. Talk to a friend and laugh it out together. Every one has their own way of unwinding – make some time in your day to enjoy those simple things.
Tipsy? Watch what you eat
So you have had one too many for the night and think the only thing to make sure is to book that cab to go home? Alcohol impairs judgement not just in driving but also for what we munch along effortlessly. A study conducted in 2015 identified a possible link between alcohol intake increases brain sensitivity to food aroma and could result in higher food intake. Alcohol also impacts our brain’s ability to realize that we are full, which results in a natural tendency to overeat.
Exercise moderation for alcohol intake. A glass of red wine a day has great health benefits, but excessive alcohol intake will trigger a unconcsious binge eating session. Drink a lot of water and stay hydrated. It helps to expel alcohol sooner from your system and also offset that extra food intake. When you know you might be drinking more, try to plan side meals ahead of time. Opt for healthy snacks or sides along with your drinks. Fruits, crackers and cheese are great choices for healthy snacks, but watch their serving sizes as well.
Avoid lack of sleep
According to a study conducted by UC Berkley, lack of sleep hampers the ability of our brain to make wise food choices. If this insomnia becomes chronic, our craving for food will increase even more leading to other complications such as undue weight gain. Picture it – you are exhausted, cannot fall asleep, start to feel hunger pangs and are presented with two choices – carrots or donuts. Your tired mind will most certainly pick that sugary circle of heaven.
How do we make sure we get our 7 to 9 hours of shut-eye every night? Take a look at some simple ways to sleep better at night. If you do face a situation where you have to be up all night, be prepared with some healthy food options to snack on.
Food cravings are here to stay. The key is to be aware of their triggers and be able to mitigate them on time. Try out these simple tips to help overcome food craving. The next time they come on to you – enjoy healthier food options and be guilt-free and happy!