- Pick peppermint: A piece of hard candy, a mint, a mug of tea, or even mouthwash — after eating go for anything peppermint-flavored to flood your senses and keep your instincts in check. As a natural appetite suppressant, peppermint will help you control your cravings and avoid postmeal munchies.
- Get up and move: The best way to let your body know that it's time to stop eating? Switch locations. It's hard to keep eating if you're no longer near the food! Move from the kitchen to the living room and busy yourself with other tasks. Even better, consider going on a walk once mealtime is over.
- Have a small taste of something sweet: Sometimes, just a spoonful of something sweet can curb the urge to keep eating while also signifying the end of a meal. Instead of reaching for a cookie, choose a healthy, water-based food that will help you feel full. Try a handful of berries, a serving of watermelon, or a spoonful of pomegranate seeds — the tart seeds pack major antioxidant punch, plus they're high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber.
- Make postmeal plans: If you have something to do after a meal, you'll find it easy to steer clear of unnecessary seconds and quit eating once you're satisfied. It doesn't need to be a major to-do, either — simply planning to call a friend or pack tomorrow's gym bag will help you stay focused and stop snacking.
We've all seesawed between depriving ourselves then binging on cravings, usually because we crave things that we know we should avoid. According to Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D., founder of The Natural Gourmet Institute and prominent author and lecturer on natural health and holistic medicine, we should listen to some cravings. They are the body's signal to search for nutrients it needs to operate properly. However, we often crave addictive foods and substances that are nonessential (and often harmful) to our body.
People who experience a food addiction indulge in stimulants such as sugar, white flour, chocolate, coffee, and alcohol. Giving them up can lead to withdrawal symptoms like unpleasant headaches, intense cravings, depression, and anxiety. One bite can instantaneously alleviate these symptoms while propelling the body to pig out. Remember, easily ridding yourself of the symptoms won't reverse the addiction. Dr. Colbin says the first four days of a cleanse are the hardest, but the cravings will diminish with patience and time.
Let's take a look at the biggest culprit. We all know that white sugar is detrimental to our heath, but here's why sugar should be hard to swallow. In her book Food and Healing ($16), Dr. Colbin explains, "To metabolize refined sugar, the body draws out the missing companion nutrients (needed as catalysts in the digestive process) from other sources." The "other sources" can be additional foods eaten during the meal, or else your body strips the micronutrients from its own tissues. Dr. Colbin warns that to digest sugar, "We lose B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, [and] iron . . . from our own reserves." This is obviously a body's last resort, and the body will try to flash a hunger signal first to search for foods with essential nutrients. Instead of bulking up on unnecessary calories to find the right food to satisfy your munchies, Dr. Colbin has mapped out an easy-to-use chart.
If you crave decadent desserts whenever you're on your period, here are some sweet, low-calorie, options made for indulging.
- One homemade almond butter cup: 86 calories
- One cup of sliced apples (57 calories) drizzled with half a tablespoon of honey (32 calories): 89 calories
- One Edy's Strawberry Fruit Bar: 80 calories
- Flourless chocolate cake: 96 calories
- Six dried apricots: 100 calories
- Half a container of vanilla Greek yogurt (60 calories) and half a cup of frozen organic blueberries (35 calories): 95 calories
- Whip up chocolate-covered banana almond butter bites and enjoy two: 98 calories
- 30 frozen grapes: 101 calories
- One four-ounce cup of organic applesauce (50 calories) topped with eight chopped peanuts (47 calories): 97 calories
- One Julie's Organic Sorbet Bar: 60 calories
- One So Delicious Mini Chocolate Sandwich: 90 calories
- Two clementines (70 calories) and two pieces of Green & Black's Organic Dark Chocolate with Cherries (36 calories): 106 calories
- Half a Cherry Pie Larabar: 80 calories
Decadent hot-fudge brownie sundaes, greasy chili cheese fries, and ooey-gooey pizza — sometimes it's hard to resist the temptation of these delicious, high-calorie, sodium- and sugar-laden foods. If your junk-food cravings are taking over and it's affecting your mood or your weight-loss goals, here are some ways to control your desire for not-so-healthy foods.
- Set some limits: Going cold turkey and restricting yourself from every single type of crave-worthy junk food may be asking a bit too much (translation: you're bound to go crazy from want and overindulge). Start off with small limitations such as no artificial sweeteners or no soda, and then add to your list of no-nos as you feel ready.
- Indulge on the good stuff: Allow yourself one small indulgence each day to avoid feeling deprived, which can heighten cravings even more. Forget low-quality, cheapo junk when cravings strike. Choose treats made with real, rich ingredients like a dark-chocolate-covered strawberry or full-fat ice cream — you're more likely to feel satisfied after a few bites of the good stuff, which means consuming less calories, fat, and sugar.
- Find healthier alternatives: If you know yourself well enough that it's not possible to eat just a little without wanting more and more, whip up some healthier options of your faves, minus the guilt. You'll feel much better devouring these low-calorie desserts — all delicious and under 150 calories. If pizza is your thrill, try these healthier slices. And instead of french fries or potato chips, these baked tofu squares are a lower-fat way to satisfy your salty cravings.
- Use the power of a goal: Got a big trip or wedding coming up? Or maybe having to sport short skirts in a couple months is incentive enough. Use the power of a goal to keep cravings at bay. Every time you want to reach for a bag of chips, think about how delicious a healthier you will feel in that bikini or strapless number.
- Change bad habits: Sometimes there are certain events or places that kick cravings into gear, so identify what sets you off so you can avoid it or start a new habit. If you can't pick up your morning coffee at the local café without grabbing an icing-covered scone as well, make your cup of joe at home. If you always reach for a pint of ice cream when you sit down for some late-night TV, make yourself a bowl of Greek yogurt with fruit instead. After some time, these new habits will take over, miraculously diminishing your old ones.
- Limit the booze: Alcohol impairs your judgment, making you more apt to say yes to anything edible. Stick to a one-drink-a-day policy to not only curb your junk-food cravings but to also reduce your risk for certain types of cancers.
- Get enough z's: When we're tired and don't have time for a nap, we tend to reach for a high-calorie pick-me-up. Get to sleep early enough so you feel so energized that you don't need a soda or cookie to pep you up.
Those Double Mint twins are onto something — mint may be just what you need to curb your cravings for a midnight snack or that second chocolate chip cookie. Due to mint’s strong scent, it is a natural appetite suppressant that can be used to keep cravings at bay. It may all be psychological but it works; sipping on mint tea, chewing sugar-free mint gum, or simply brushing your teeth can save you calories and may help you drop a pant size — unfortunately, mint chocolate chip ice cream does not count. Give mint a try the next time you're longing for something sweet and salty or check out some of these ideas to curb cravings.
We are pumped to share one of our favorite stories from Health.com here on our site.
Cravings — we all get them. If you asked me what foods I typically crave, I can always reel off a number of items without hesitation: chewy oatmeal raisin cookies, cheesy loaded nachos, dark chocolate with sea salt, a malty ale . . . just to name a few. While trying to eat better and lose weight, these cravings often became my downfall, until I discovered where they came from and how to control them by simply cleaning up my diet.
There was a time in my life when I ate way too much sugar. In fact, some days I'd "save" my calories just so I could binge on sweets later. So much, in fact, that I experienced crazy mood swings and terrible breakouts because of all of the sugar I was consuming. Clearly this wasn't the best way to shed pounds. I knew something needed to change, so I decided to take control of my cravings once and for all.
My cravings were typically the strongest after eating a meal (for something sweet) or in the late afternoon before dinner (for something savory), so I tried to think back to times in my life when I didn't have these urges and suddenly things clicked! I didn't experience them when I ate a well-rounded and satisfying meal. You're probably thinking: "Well, duh," but hear me out.
You know you're getting into the holiday spirit when the movie Elf is on repeat in your DVD player. If this is the case, let's just hope you aren't influenced by Will Ferrell's bad dietary habits, which include copious amounts of candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup! We may not be guzzling down bottles of syrup, but when confronted with tables full of cookies, candies, chocolates, and cake, what's a girl to do? Other than exercising some restrain, here are some helpful tips that will help curb your sweet tooth during the holiday season.
My Thanksgiving spread consisted of four pies: pumpkin, apple, chocolate cream, and key lime. I only ate one type of pie, but I did have two regular-sized pieces of it. Adding to that, I also ate another slice for breakfast. What can I say, I get weak in the knees for pumpkin pie! To compensate for part of my pie indulgences (or the fact that I'll have another slice tonight), I'm spending a portion of my day hiking and at spin class — nothing like a little pie to get me moving!
Source: Flickr user nightmare
We are pumped to share our fave story from Self here on FitSugar!
One common work-week diet trap: the 3-o'clock munchies. You know the feeling. Before you know it, you're standing before the vending machine, with the voice in your head saying "I want, I want, I want!" Here's how to silence those thoughts without feeling deprived. Ready to take control over your cravings? Follow these three simple tricks:
- Do indulge (in moderation): Denying yourself of the very treats you love is only going to make you want them more — and if you cut them out completely you may find yourself binging on them within a week's time. Better to keep yourself in check by practicing moderation. Love chocolate? Eat two small squares daily rather than the entire bar. Is it crunch you crave? Trade in fatty potato crisps for a healthy chip alternative.
- Try positive self-talk: Be gentle with yourself. So you ate a few cookies, so what! It's OK. Stay calm. You will not (I repeat): You will not blow up like a balloon. Rather than beat yourself up for allowing yourself a small indulgence, tell yourself "A few cookies is not an entire box. I deserve to satisfy my sweet tooth and I have. I don't need to eat any more cookies (today)." Being mindful of your inner dialogue will do wonders for your self-esteem and your waistline.
- Breathe before you bite: When that explosive wave of "I want (insert cookies, cake, chips, dip, etc. here)" hits, step away from the fridge. Make a commitment to yourself to wait it out at least 10 minutes. Focus on your breathing and what you are feeling. Are you sad, angry, or tired? If so, try improving your mood without food — call a friend, blast a song you love, take a walk or write in a journal. Chances are your yen for treats will pass. If you're truly hungry and feel your belly rumbling after those 10 minutes, eat — but try to choose a healthy snack.
Find five more ways to train your brain to shut out (and up!) those pesky cravings inside your head.
Need more food for thought? Read these stories at Self.com:
I've gone and developed a pretty tasty habit for myself. Every week, I buy myself a raisin custard roll from the farmers market near Sugar HQ. Initially, I felt pretty guilty about indulging in such a decadent pastry but now I look forward to it. In fact, I welcome it. Because it's become a weekly ritual, I no longer give into cravings as much as I used to. I've also noticed that I don't buy sweets on a whim any longer. Instead, I find myself content throughout the week because I know that there's a yummy pastry waiting for me every Thursday.
If you're sticking to a healthy diet but still find yourself craving rich or fatty foods, I suggest that you try to give yourself a cheat day, too. It gives you something to look forward to and prevents you from feeling deprived. Celebs like Sandra Bullock practice this same technique, and trainers like Harley Pasternak encourages this type of eating to their clients. What will your cheat food be?
Source: Flickr User Phillie Casablanca