Cravings. A word that can drive us crazy and really, it can be pain if you’re trying to lose some weight!
Cravings can be tough. No matter what your “I-want-it-now” food is – be it maggi mee goreng, nasi lemak, pasta, burgers, ice cream, chocolate, cakes, cookies, you probably wrestle with a major decision. To eat or not to eat, that is the question.
Unfortunately, cravings for some of us are more intense and frequent compared to others, which makes healthy decisions that much harder. So, is there a way we can cut the cravings? Well, there is no cure for it but there are signs to look out for, which make us crave for things!
Learn the 8 biggest mistakes that make cravings even worse so you can get those cravings under control.
1. You skimp on breakfast
So you’re not hungry in the morning and you’d honestly rather spend more time in bed than to waste time eating breakfast. However, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It helps kick start your body and keeps you full, which makes you concentrate better at work and with being full, you won’t crave for snacks. If you include protein in your breakfast, all the better because protein helps stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurochemical involved in the brain’s reward centers that can help manage cravings. See here for some suggestions for a good healthy breakfast.
2. Your serving portions are too big
You know when you want to eat something and you’re desperate for it and you’re ok if you give in to it? The thing is, it’s ok to give into cravings once in a while but the trouble is, in that moment of craving, you take more than you actually need. Research from Cornell University in 104 students found that people who were given small snack-sized portions of chocolate, apple pie, or potato chips reported feeling as satisfied as those presented with larger servings—and they ate 76.8% fewer calories. Therefore, if you really want something, take a small serving, eat it and enjoy, and then wait 15 minutes until the yearning for more subsides.
3. You don’t eat anything
Craving for something sweet? Why not eat from fresh fruit instead. Or in need for something salty like those delicious french fries? Why not snack on salted, in-shell pistachios for a change. Substituting what you’re craving for with a healthy equivalent may not hit the spot completely but should be enough to keep you filled up. Cravings are usually short-lived and it’ll be likely that once you’ve eaten the healthy alternative, you’ll forget about the initial craving because you’re full already. However, if in a die-hard situation where only those potato chips will do, then have one serving, eat them slowly, and be done.
4. You don’t pair the food you crave with something healthy
You can satisfy your mood for something while still eating healthily by pairing a larger portion of healthy foods with a small amount of what you’re craving for. It works because it makes meals more fun and tasty, and you don’t feel deprived as much. The researchers from a Vanderbilt University study call it a “vice-virtue bundle.” So why not give it a go? Order the salad or steamed vegetables with grilled fish with a side of fries or rice. Or order a piece of grilled chicken and veggies with a small bowl of pasta. Concentrate on filling up on the healthier foods, and eat a quarter to half a portion of the other not-so-healthy-but-yummy stuff.
5. You try willpower
Sometimes, willpower doesn’t always work, especially when we’re feeling a bit more fragile. A winning strategy is distraction. One study found that playing the game Tetris reduced the strength of food cravings better than when people spent the same amount of time just waiting around. Try going for a quick walk instead of giving in to the craving immediately. That short walk may help get rid of the craving by making you focus on something else. Since cravings usually don’t stick around that long, you just need to stick it out momentarily.
6. You keep temptation around
If you keep snacks and food you like to eat lying around, you’ll be surrounded by temptation all the time. That doesn’t help with diet control! The mental battle between you and the ice cream in your freezer doesn’t help if you know it’s there. You’re likely to give in and then feel bad for giving in afterwards. If you simply must have certain treats in the house like cookies, ice creams, potato chips etc, then at least make it difficult to reach. Place healthier snack options like dried fruits and nuts in front so you can reach for those first.
7. You’re dieting
Being on a diet or at least wanting to remain on a diet is all well and good. You make an effort to eat well, you tell yourself that the piece of kuih is off limits or the burger is “bad” food. Whatever it is, remember that your perception matters. Dieters can have more intense and harder-to-resist cravings than non-dieters particularly for their off-limits foods. When you deny yourself with your favourite foods, you’ll eventually crave for it. The trick is is to give in a controlled manner. Allow yourself a little something of what you like and enjoy every day, whether you’re looking to lose weight or not. This will help take the power away from your cravings and that little satisfaction will frankly make you less irritable!
8. You use Instagram or Pinterest
Seeing wonderful photos of delicious looking food does NOT help. Looking at that gooey cheese from a pizza slice, that drizzle of chocolate sauce on a piece of cake or lusting after that juicy steak does not do you any good. Food porn is indeed fun to look at, but there are dangers to it. Namely because it’ll cause you to focus on food and then you’ll find yourself craving for something unnecessary. If you can’t keep away from Instagram or Pinterest, then how about flooding your feed by following people who known for delicious but nutritious food? That way, if you do look at food porn, at least it’ll be photos of healthy eats, encouraging and inspiring you to eat healthier.