Trying to lose weight requires a lot of effort and willpower. Unfortunately, there are several obstacles to losing weight in a quick yet healthy manner. One of the most common reasons that people claim for not losing weight is the ‘uncontrollable’ cravings that they get.
Food cravings can range from salty to sweet, but most of the common kinds are for unhealthy, processed junk food. Some women experience heightened cravings when they’re pregnant; while indulging every now and then is fine, giving in too many times can be very detrimental to our health and weight loss efforts.
It’s possible to deal with unhealthy cravings instead of fulfilling them each time. Here are a few tips that can get you through without taking in extra calories:
1. Drink More Water
We’ve probably heard this from a lot of doctors, our parents, and several internet sources as well. In addition to flushing out toxins from the body and improving our complexion, drinking more water might be the answer to unhealthy cravings. At least some of the time, thirst can be the reason why you feel hungry or have an unexplained craving.
The next time you feel a craving, drink a glass of water–the larger the better. The craving just might fade away, saving you from all those calories.
Of course, drinking more water has its own health benefits. We should also try drinking a glass of water before meals so that we consume less calories and hence find it easier to lose weight.
2. Eat Protein, Especially Breakfast
Protein sources include meat, lentils, eggs, and several other filling options that can lead you feeling full for a long time. This feeling will result in a smaller appetite and will also prevent overeating.
Plus, consuming more protein will help to curb those unhealthy cravings. Breakfast is especially important here, so make sure to have a high-protein one every day.
One study has shown how upping protein can significantly reduce cravings in overweight men. What’s even better is that this practice might slash our tendency for night snacking in half.
Social distancing is a familiar practice for most of us now, so it makes sense that we should also keep a distance from unhealthy food. The logic is simple; if you crave a certain food, keep away from it.
For example, if you hear that ice cream in the freezer calling to you, try to get out of the house. Take a walk, a shower, brush your teeth–anything to take your mind and body away from the temptation.
Changing your environment might help in curbing the craving. It’s even better if you do something productive this way, like working on a project or exercising.
If nothing else, chewing gum is said to reduce cravings and suppress appetite. Have a low-sugar or sugar-free option on hand for such situations. If you’d like to avoid chewing gum, consider chewing on fennel or sunflower seeds.
4. Meal Planning and Prepping
It can be exhausting to think about what to cook each day. When you’re not in the mood for cooking and not sure what to make anyway, the chances of eating out or getting unhealthy food delivered go up. To avoid such situations, try planning out the menu for each week beforehand.
You can then do all your grocery shopping accordingly, which is also good for staying within budget. If possible, prep your meals so that consuming something healthy doesn’t always require putting in a lot of effort. At the end of a long day, you’ll find it much easier to pull out a box and pop it in the oven. If you have to make the same meal from scratch, the likelihood of cravings will go up.
5. Try Eating Frequently
It might seem strange, but eating more often can actually help to suppress your craving. Diabetics are usually advised to eat small but frequent meals in order to keep their blood sugar levels normal.
The logic behind this advice is interesting. Basically, we feel hungry and crave unhealthy, quick options to fill our stomachs. When we eat more often, we don’t feel hungry enough to just grab whatever’s easy (which is usually processed or junk food).
Of course, this doesn’t mean eating several full meals in a day. You can start by reducing the size of your regular three meals and supplementing your energy level with healthy snacks. The snacks don’t have to be low fat or even low-calorie; nuts are a great option, as are avocados. While these items are high in fat, they give you a lot of energy in return.
When you don’t go through long stretches of hunger, you might be preventing any cravings altogether. Change your snacking habits and focus more on homemade, natural options.
High stress levels are a large part of why we end up having food cravings. Many people indulge in stress eating, especially women (according to certain studies).
What’s more, stress increases the cortisol levels in our blood. This is a hormone that contributes to weight gain, especially around the abdomen.
You can minimize your stress levels by making several changes in your immediate environment. Plan ahead for each day or week–this includes meals, study time, down time, and a slot for exercising as well. Meditating is also a good option, along with slowing down in general. Learn to say ‘no’ to excessive and extra demands, whether this is at home, your social circle, or your workplace.
7. Try Taking Spinach Extract
There might be a dietary solution for your excessive cravings. Spinach extract is a relatively new offering that can delay the digestion of fat.
This delay results in the production of more hormones like GLP-1. Hormones like these help in suppressing hunger, reducing appetite, and hence curbing cravings as well.
Studies have shown that taking around 3.7 to 5 grams of this extract each day might be able to reduce cravings for sugary foods. That chocolate craving might even go down by as much as 95 percent.
If you can’t find spinach extract, increasing your intake of spinach might help as well. Throw in some spinach leaves into your daily smoothies and enjoy the health benefits that come with it.
8. Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is something that anyone can practice without financial investment, getting more equipment, or depriving themselves. It’s all about practicing a kind of medallion when it comes to eating.
In a nutshell, this practice means that a person should develop awareness while they’re eating. This includes looking at their food, acknowledging the emotions it provokes, and the physical sensations that occur when the food is consumed.
The method also includes being mindful of your hunger and the cravings that come with it. With a bit of time, mindful eating will teach a person the difference between an empty craving and actual hunger that requires immediate nourishment.
The result here will hopefully be that we’d be able to choose our response more wisely. When we’re used to being aware of our feelings and food, the choice will be logical and not based on rash impulses.
In order to be a mindful eat, you have to slow down while eating. Chew and savor your food, appreciating every nuance of the flavor. Eating while watching TV, scrolling on a smart device, or reading is definitely not in the picture here.
According to at least one study, it was found that mindful eating helped in reducing binge eating. Even when the binge occurred, it was much less severe than before the trials.
Food cravings might be a part of our lives, but they don’t have to rule our eating decisions. Pay attention to your cravings, however, as they might be trying to tell you something. If the urges are unusual, such as the desire to eat dirt, detergent, raw rice, or ice, it’s best to see a doctor right away. Such cravings might be signs of nutritional deficiencies such as pica.
For real food cravings, though, a lifestyle change is the best way to go. Once you learn to respect your body and treat it right, the cravings will not be as strong. With this advantage, you’d be better equipped to carry out your weight loss plans and have a healthier, hopefully happier life.