10 Mistakes That Make Cravings Worse
Learn to crush cravings
Cravings—such a dirty word when you're trying to lose weight or keep it off. No matter what your "I-want-it-now" food is—pizza, burgers, ice cream, cupcakes—you probably wrestle with what you want to do (eat it now!) with what you "should" do (go eat veggies). Unfortunately, it's true that many of our daily habits actually make cravings more intense and frequent, making healthy decisions harder. That doesn't mean you can't do something about it. Learn the 10 biggest mistakes that make cravings even worse to get yours under control.
You skimp on breakfast
Maybe you're not hungry in the a.m., but eating some calories now can keep cravings at bay later. In one study in the Nutrition Journal, overweight girls who ate a 350-calorie breakfast with at least 13 grams of protein had reduced cravings for sweet and savory foods compared to breakfast skippers. Researchers aren't exactly sure why, but protein may help stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurochemical involved in the brain's reward centers that can help manage cravings. A half-cup of cottage cheese, 2 hard-boiled eggs, or a cup of cooked oatmeal with two tablespoons of peanut butter will do the trick.
Your serving is too big
Watch the video: 5 Natural Appetite Suppressants That Really Work
You don't eat anything
Craving candy? Try eating a bowl of super-sweet sliced strawberries. What about chips? Crunch on salted, in-shell pistachios. Substituting what you're jonesing for with a similar-tasting healthy equivalent should be enough to satisfy you, says Marisa Moore, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Cravings are short-lived and soon you'll forget about it but will have helped your health with a good snack. It's a win-win," she says. However, if chips—and only chips—will do, count out one serving, eat them slowly, and be done.
You don't know why you're craving something
You can't get your hand out of the bag of cheesy crackers. If you don't understand why, you can't do anything about it, says Christine Palumbo, RD, a faculty member of Benedictine University in Lisle, IL. She recommends keeping a cravings journal. It doesn't have to be anything fancy—just jot down a few notes on your phone. When a craving hits, log your emotions: you're tired, anxious, stressed, bored. Eventually, you'll pick out common patterns, and you can deal with the causes head on, rather than trying to eat as a solution.
You don't pair the food you crave with something healthy
Cravings aren't all or nothing. You can satisfy your yearning while still eating healthy by pairing a larger portion of healthy foods with a small amount of what you think you want. It works because it makes meals more fun and tasty, but still gives your body the nutrition it needs to function at its best, suggests a Vanderbilt University study. The researchers call it a "vice-virtue bundle." So here's how to do it: order the salad with grilled salmon with a side of fries or get a piece of grilled chicken and veggies with a small bowl of mac and cheese. Fill up on the good stuff, and eat a quarter to half a portion of the splurge.
You pile on the guilt
You try willpower
You keep temptation around
You use Instagram or Pinterest
There are plenty of health bloggers out there who create delicious-looking-but-nutritious food, so if you can't resist food porn, at least follow people who post pics of healthy eats. (You could even follow Health on Instagram or Pinterest.) Maybe you'll be inspired to cook something new tonight.