Controlling Your Cravings
How to avoid and beat those awful hunger pangs.
You are no doubt familiar with the feeling of an empty stomach. You can feel hunger clawing at you from the inside, unbearable pangs that need to be satisfied immediately, no matter the cost. And, as it goes, you end up regretting it later.
Feeling hungry is a normal reaction; it is our body telling us that we need to eat to keep living and functioning. However, with easy access to food nowadays, it’s hard to tell if we are indeed hungry or just bored.
What are cravings?
A craving is when you are intensely thinking about certain food. In most cases, you crave something unhealthy.
If you restrict yourself too much from eating the food you want, it can negatively affect your mood. This can further increase the craving, and you will be thinking about that certain food all the time. The chances are, you will break your diet and regret it afterwards.
This can lead to a very negative cycle. Your mood gets worse because you are not eating what you want to be eating, and then the desire intensifies because you deprived yourself of the food you like.
The different types of hunger
We can split hunger into two categories; real, physiological and psychological, or mouth hunger. Even though they may seem the same, the two are very different.
Real hunger is when you are truly hungry for food, energy, and sustenance; it’s when you need to eat to continue functioning normally. Mouth hunger is when you would like to just put some food in your mouth. Cravings are the second type of hunger.
Just thinking about food gets you in the mood to eat, even though you want to avoid it. Today, with food so cheap and plentiful all around us, this is more difficult than ever. Supermarket aisles are filled with sugar-rich sweets, snacks, and other addictive foods. Fast food is cheaper, tastier and more present in our lives than ever. We are constantly bombarded with advertising for very tasty, very convenient, and very unhealthy food.
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By now, you are probably thinking that there is no hope and that resistance is futile. This is luckily not the case. All around you are people who are fighting the same battle as you and are coming out on top. Like all things, the process can seem a bit difficult at first, but with every day it gets easier and easier until it practically becomes your lifestyle.
So, how to stop cravings?
Eat regular meals and stick to a schedule – Don’t skip meals, and try to eat at similar times every day. Skipping meals will just lead you to become hungrier later, and have less control. Make sure to eat proper and balanced meals. If your body gets the nutrients it needs, it’s not likely for you to get hungry right after.
Don’t do your groceries on an empty stomach – With such easy access to a huge variety of food, grocery shops are our worst enemies when we’re hungry. Buy your food after you’ve had a meal. It will also give you the strength to avoid buying unhealthy food that is, naturally, available at eye level.
Pay attention to how you are feeling – Eat when you are truly hungry, not when you are bored or just want something to eat. Learn how to be aware of what you’re eating and when. Be present while you eat, put your phone away, and never watch Netflix with a snack by your side.
Think about what causes cravings – If you feel that you are having difficulties controlling yourself, keep a food diary in which you record what you eat and when, as well as how you feel before and after you eat. This will help you see what gets you in the mood to eat and if you are eating because of stress, boredom or loneliness.
Stay occupied – If you are busy and interested in what you are doing, you won’t be thinking about eating. Sitting for a long time and watching TV or browsing the web are often very boring activities and are a great trigger for unhealthy overeating.
Make meals their own activity – Only eat at mealtimes, without watching TV or your phone. Eat in your kitchen or dining room, not all over the house. You will find that you will eat less when you are paying attention to what you are eating.
Regular drinks – Unfortunately, not sweet or fizzy drinks, but water and tea. Hot drinks in particular will help you feel full and soothe you. Stay away from fizzy drinks and any supermarket juices, as they are full of sugar and calories. Make your own fresh juices, and – we can’t stress it enough – drink a lot of water.
Sensible snacks – Try fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Things like rice cakes, a few crackers, anything small that helps fill you up.
Don’t make one slip up into a catastrophe – There will be days when you make a mistake and indulge yourself a bit. It’s no big deal. Just avoid the mindset of “Well, since I have made a mistake already, I might as well make the most of it this evening/today”. This is a common mistake we all make and regret immediately after.
Remember, we all have cravings on a regular basis. It’s what you do with the mouth hunger that counts. Craving a certain food may result in weight gain and even addiction.
Take the time to reflect on your mood and emotions. See what can trigger the cravings. If you are aware of them, it can help you avoid unhealthy food and stay on track with your weight loss.
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