No matter how dedicated you are to your weight loss plan, you are going to have cravings from time to time. And unfortunately, most of us don’t crave lettuce on a regular basis! Your cravings are probably for unhealthy foods that won’t support your weight loss goals, so most of the time you will have to find some way to overcome those urges.
Be prepared. The first step to battling cravings should begin before the urge even strikes. Remember to eat small, regular meals that are high in protein. This will keep your blood sugar on an even keel, and prevent cravings from happening in the first place. But on the occasion they do strike, your second line of defense should be a well-stocked (with healthy foods) pantry. Make it easy to grab a substitute.
About those substitutes… Cravings are often as much about the texture as they are taste. If you tend to crave ice cream, keep low-fat yogurt in the fridge. If you like chips, stock up on a low-fat baked variety.
Delay gratification. Cravings often don’t last more than about 20 minutes. Distract yourself with a fun activity, and on many occasions you will notice that the craving disappears once you aren’t focused on it anymore.
Ask yourself if you’re really hungry. When a craving strikes, ask yourself if you would eat a piece of fruit (or some other healthy food you enjoy) right now. If the answer is no, you’re probably not actually hungry. Ask yourself if your cravings are triggered by emotions like boredom or sadness, and find new ways to address those feelings that don’t involve food.
Hydrate. Cravings can actually strike when you’re really just dehydrated, not hungry. Drink a large glass of water and wait twenty minutes. Are you still hungry?
Chew gum. Sometimes we just crave the action of chewing on something, as odd as that might sound. Choose a flavor of gum that you enjoy (sugar free is best) and grab a piece when cravings strike.
Go for a walk. Literally, physically, walk away from the kitchen (or vending machine). Going for a walk will distract you for a moment, and give you time to reconsider the unhealthy choice you were about to make. Get your blood pumping and remind yourself of your health goals, and you might find that you don’t want that snack after all. Being healthy feels so much better!
Give in… a little. On occasion, it’s better to give in to a craving. Just don’t do it every day. Take a small portion of the food you love, and take the time to savor it. Then employ one of the above measures to ensure that your small portion doesn’t become an all-night binge.