Curbing Food Cravings7 Strategies for Curbing Food Cravings

You’ve started a healthy diet to promote weight loss, and at first, it seems to be going great. But then the cravings hit. It feels like all you can think about is the vending machine in your office or the stretch of fast food restaurants you drive by on your way home from work, and suddenly your diet doesn’t seem so manageable anymore.

Don’t let cravings get in the way of your healthy eating efforts. Try these seven simple strategies for controlling cravings and sticking to your weight loss plan.

Stay Hydrated

The next time a food craving hits, curb it by reaching for a full glass of water instead of a snack. Wait a few minutes after you’ve finished the water to decide if you’re still hungry—you may be surprised to discover that the craving is gone.

We frequently confuse thirst with hunger, so drinking water is a good first line of defense when you experience craving pangs. Get in the habit of carrying a bottle of water with you throughout the day to help you control cravings. If you have a hard time motivating yourself to drink enough water, try adding some flavor with lemons, cucumbers, basil, or mint.

Plan Your Meal Schedule

When you go more than five hours without food, your blood sugar will dip, and you’ll be more likely to experience cravings. To make matters worse, you’re more likely to crave calorie-dense food when you’re very hungry.

Rather than trying to go for long stretches of time without eating, make it easier to curb your food cravings by planning your meals at regular intervals and sticking to the same routine every day. Make sure your meals include a form of lean protein, such as eggs or fish. Protein stimulates the production of an appetite-suppressing hormone called cholecystokinin, which will help you feel full for longer.

Distract Yourself from the Craving

When you’re experiencing a food craving, it might feel like you can’t think about anything else—but it is possible to distract yourself with an engaging activity. Try gaining control over your craving by going for a walk, tidying up the house, taking a shower, or running errands. If you can, put yourself in an environment where the food you’re craving isn’t readily available.

Find a Stress Reliever

Cravings can be tied to emotions, especially if you’ve conditioned yourself to eat when you need to feel comforted. And when you’re stressed, your body increases its production of the hormone cortisol, which tells your brain to seek out rewards (such as junk food).

Rather than immediately heading to the kitchen after a tough day, start a new stress relieving routine that helps curb cravings. Try meditating, working out, or even taking a relaxing bath. Train yourself to relieve stress in ways that don’t involve eating.

Try Mindful Eating

If you’re driving yourself crazy trying to control a craving for a specific food, allow yourself to have a small portion of that food, alongside something healthier that will keep you feeling full. Chew your food slowly and avoid distractions, such as your phone or TV. Practicing mindful eating will help you develop an awareness of your food habits and cravings so that you can make thoughtful decisions rather than eating impulsively.

Get a Full Night’s Sleep

Research suggests that even short-term sleep deprivation can lead to a decrease in the hormone leptin, which signals satiety. This means that when you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re more likely to feel hungry and end up overeating. Try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night to keep curbing your food cravings.

Talk to Your Doctor About an Appetite Suppressant

If you’ve been trying your best to control food cravings but still feel like your hunger is sabotaging your weight loss efforts, it may be time to talk to a medical weight loss doctor about a prescription appetite suppressant. Your doctor may discuss incorporating an FDA-approved medication like CONTRAVE into your weight loss plan to help curb food cravings. CONTRAVE works by targeting two areas of the brain, the hypothalamus and the mesolimbic reward system, that can trigger feelings of hunger and food cravings. Your doctor will likely recommend making this medication part of a complete weight loss plan that includes diet and exercise.

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