One of the biggest challenges people face when trying to eat better and change their lifestyle is cravings. Cravings for unhealthy foods come out of nowhere and are hard to ignore. It’s those impulses that derail so many people from reaching their healthy eating goals.
When you get down to it, cravings are a scientific occurrence. That means they can be altered. Here are some amazing ways to stop cravings for unhealthy foods.
Make Healthy Swaps
Shift away from your cravings by starting to make healthy swaps. That doesn’t mean changing out your peanut butter cups for an organic brand that has as many calories but markets itself as healthy. Instead, look at how you can experience that flavor in a better way.
For example, instead of running to the store for a chocolate bar, make a protein shake with cocoa powder and peanut butter. Rather than pouring a big bowl of nacho chips, slice up a whole grain tortilla, bake it in the oven, and use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
Understand and Create Habit Loops
Cravings happen as a result of habit loops, which feature a cue, a routine, and a reward. In other words, cravings are usually tied to a root cause triggered by activity or emotion. If you’ve always sat down with a snack to watch TV in the evening, your mind will automatically trigger that craving when you flick on Netflix. If you’re an emotional eater, your body will send you craving signals when you start to feel stressed out.
Take time to identify your triggers and replace them with alternate activities. For example, swap out your evening tv session with listening to a podcast while doing chores for a few weeks to break the habit cycle. Practice in-the-moment stress-coping methods to derail that vicious cycle.
Mindfulness is the act of being more aware and intentional with all daily activities, eating included. Some ways to incorporate mindfulness into your eating habits include:
- Slowing down your chewing and sipping water between bites.
- Removing distractions by eating without your phone or computer near you.
- Writing down how you feel physically and emotionally after eating or giving in to a craving.
By practicing these mindfulness techniques, your body will be more aware of how your food is affecting you. You’ll feel more satiated with each meal, which will reduce cravings throughout the day. Additionally, you’ll start to make connections between your eating and the impact on your body to make better decisions.
Drink More Water
Your body is a complex machine. Despite all the amazing things it’s capable of, it sometimes gets its signals mixed up. One of the most common issues stems from a lack of hydration. That signal that tells you that you’re thirsty often comes across as hunger or tiredness.
When you start to feel a craving, have a glass of water, and wait twenty minutes. You’ll be surprised at how much less hungry you feel. By prioritizing hydration throughout the day, you’ll get a better grip on impulsive eating, both in terms of meal portions and cravings.
By practicing these simple lifestyle habits, you’ll gain control of your cravings and make room for more healthy food in your life.