Tips to Fend Off Food Cravings

Every time you start a diet to lose weight, you are sure to start craving foods like chocolate, cookies, or other high-calorie, high-fat foods.  Food cravings can be both physiological and psychological, but with the both kinds are able to be overcome.  Here are 10 simple ways to fend off food cravings:

1. Watch the Clock: A physiological reason, such as hunger, can have you craving food.  You can help avoid food cravings caused by hunger by not going more than 5 hours without eating something.  If it’s time for an allowed snack, choose food low in calories and fat: options under 50 calories include a small peach, 15 grapes, and 2 cups of light microwaved popcorn, or five pretzels.

2. Eat Protein: To help fend off food cravings, every meal should include some source of lean protein, such as skinless chicken or turkey, fish, eggs, or low-fat cheese.  Protein helps to control blood sugar patterns and can help prevent food cravings.  Foods containing protein also help you feel fuller by stimulating production of cholecystokinin (CKK), a naturally occurring appetite suppressant.

3. Wash Away Food Cravings:   Dehydration can cause some people to crave salty foods.  The solution is simple: Drink more water.  In fact, what you think are food cravings may actually be thirst.  Quench your thirst, and the food cravings will go away, too.

4. Find a Distraction:  When the craving is psychological, it is meeting a need different from hunger.  The way to combat food cravings caused by boredom, anxiety, or other emotions is by finding an activity that will take your mind off your craving without adding calories.

5. Chew on It:  Yes, chewing gum can help you lose weight.  Studies suggest that chewing gum may reduce one’s cravings for sweets and for snacks.  If you reach for a stick of gum, be sure it’s sugarless, with zero or only a few calories.

6. Pick Your Pleasure:  Another way to beat food cravings when they are psychological is to replace eating with an activity you find pleasurable and emotionally satisfying.  Do something you really enjoy that doesn’t involve an intake of calories.

7. Brush Up:  If you are craving something salty or sweet, you can literally wash that taste right out of your mouth.  Brush your teeth with minty toothpaste or swish with a little minty mouthwash and floss your teeth.  Once your mouth is feeling clean and fresh, you won’t want to spoil it with salty chips or sugary candy.

8. Spring into Action:  Instead of heading for the freezer, head for the front door and go for a jog around the blockThe fresh air and exercise will calm you down, clear your head, and help quench any desire for overindulgenceRather than piling on the calories, you’ll be burning them

9. 'Refine' Your Palate: Research suggests that some people can become addicted to refined foods, such as white bread, white pasta, and white sugar: the more you eat, the more you wantBreak the cycle by eliminate refined foods from your diet and you could curb your food cravings.

10. Skip the High Fructose Corn Syrup:  When you’re scaling back on refined sugars, be sure to target high fructose corn syrup.  It is used as a sweetener in many foods, from bread to frozen dinners, because it’s inexpensive and increases shelf life.  Read food labels carefully to see whether the foods you are eating have fructose syrup and avoid them if you can.