Ever wonder why you’re craving a treat around the same time every day? Or why you are reaching for those cookies right after having a healthy and filling meal? The truth is that consuming sugar leads to more sugar cravings, and sometimes there are hidden sugars in foods that we think of as healthy, like yogurts and juices.
These eight ways to curb your cravings will help you to hold off on treats until the evening, choose healthier alternatives that will minimize your cravings, and distract yourself when a craving hits.
Hold Off on the Indulgences
Have you noticed that eating sugar in the morning or afternoon will give you an immediate, short-term boost of energy, but then leave you feeling hungry and sluggish shortly after? Eating simple carbohydrates will only make you crave more sugary treats as the day goes on, so it ‘s helpful to wait until after dinner for your treat. This gives you something to look forward to throughout the day, without throwing you off track with added cravings and blood sugar lows; plus, allowing yourself a small treat will help you to feel satisfied and not like you’re being too restrictive.
Watch Out for Hidden Sugars
According to the American Heart Association, the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugars per day, when the recommended amount is 6 for women and 9 for men. Where is all of this extra sugar coming from? Sugar isn’t only in cookies and pastries, it’s in processed foods, breads, yogurt, juices, jams and sauces. These hidden sugars will increase your sugar cravings during the day and they won’t keep you full for long, so you’ll be looking for your next quick fix within the hour. To curb your cravings, avoid foods with simple carbohydrates or sugars; instead, stick to foods that will fuel the body and keep you satisfied.
Research has shown that chewing gum can reduce food cravings. Sometimes the chewing sensation alone is enough for our brains to feel stimulated and satisfied. Sucking on a peppermint or lifesaver can even work when you’re having one of those afternoon cravings.
Do Something Else
If you are craving a specific food shortly after eating a filling meal, you are experiencing emotional hunger. We often use food to comfort or even mask our emotions, sometimes without even noticing it. To avoid giving into these cravings, do something else that will combat or deal with the emotion. For example, if you’re feeling stressed at work, go for a quick walk over your lunch break instead of eating that cookie in the snack room. Many times the craving isn’t actually about the food, so pinpoint the issue and address it head on. Other actions that can help curb emotional hunger include deep breathing, stretching, reading, taking a relaxing shower or meditating.
Eat Every 3 to 4 hours
Waiting too long between meals can be problematic – you get overly hungry and are more willing to choose sugary, processed, greasy or fatty foods in order to cut your hunger quickly. Eating a paleo-friendly snacks in between meals, such as baby carrots or celery sticks with nut butter, can help you avoid such cravings. Start planning for your next meal as soon as you begin to feel hungry instead of waiting until your stomach is growling.
Each day, have a general idea of what you’ll be eating. When leaving the house for several hours, make sure to meal prep your food intake with healthy snacks or a filling and nutritious dishes. If you’ve had your mind on something sweet, then plan for a small indulgence later on that day – this will help you to avoid giving into sugar cravings beforehand. And if you have plans to attend a birthday dinner or your dining at a friend’s house, then stick to really nourishing and filling foods during the day. Save the treats or more indulgent foods for later. Planning ahead will help you to curb those midday cravings and it will also alleviate guilt when you do choose to treat yourself.
Get Enough Sleep
Research shows that sleepless nights can drop levels of the hormone leptin, which signals satiety, and increase levels of ghrelin, which triggers your appetite. No wonder your feeling those cravings even more after minimal sleep. The best way to avoid this is to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Drinking caffeine in the morning is a short-term fix, but it will help to curb those cravings too.
Choose an Alternative Food
Cravings can pop up at any time during the day, so having a portable and healthy snack on hand is key. Try eating a handful of almonds or walnuts instead of reaching for that bag of chips. Keep mixed nuts in your bag, office or car incase an unexpected craving hits. Also, make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day – keep a water bottle nearby and even add lemon for a little extra flavor.
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