How do I combat food cravings?
By Kamyra La Fauci, Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD)
Feel like you always fall victim to food cravings? Well you are not alone! Research shows that over 90% of people experience food cravings which are defined as an intense desire to consume foods that are usually high in sugar, fats and salt eg. Chocolate or chips. Why we experience cravings is still not completely understood, but what we do know is that they result from a combination of environmental, emotional and physical cues and habits.
Here are our 5 top tips to help you kick your cravings to the curb and help you work closer towards your health and weight loss goals.
- Perform a pantry cleanout – If a food you crave is readily available in your household you are more likely to eat it, hence the saying “If I see it, I’ll eat it”. To eliminate these sensory cues, rid your pantry and fridge of foods such as chocolate, chips, ice cream or of the foods you know will tempt you. This may sound simple but can be very powerful. Remember – out of sight out of mind!
- Ride the “crave wave” – It may feel like your cravings become more intense as time goes by, but this isn’t in fact the case. In most cases, the intensity of a food craving will peak after 5-10 minutes then gradually subside, just like a wave. Instead of trying to fight the craving, this approach uses mindfulness as a tool to accept the craving, so you rob the power it places over you.
- Distract and distance yourself from food – When you experience a craving, distract yourself by focusing your attention to another activity, particularly one that involves being away from the kitchen or where food is available. Try reading a book, keeping your hand busy with a puzzle or knitting or even getting outside for a walk to get some fresh air. This will help to fill time to allow the craving to pass.
- Plan your meals – ever heard the saying “if you fail to plan you plain to fail? Allocate a small amount of time to each week to decide on all meals and snacks required for the week ahead. By having your food organised in advance you aren’t faced with challenging scenarios like visiting the local café or supermarket each day where you are exposed to tempting foods that can trigger a craving.
- Avoid be too hungry – hunger is a well known trigger for food cravings. Aim to eat 3 meals per day, each containing a good source of protein and fibre to keep you feeling fuller for longer between meals. If that isn’t enough, keep nutritious snacks on hand to have in between meals to avoid entering a meal ravenous.