I hope you all have read the first part of “How to Stop Craving for Food” and are now able to recognise your triggers for food cravings better. So let us now discuss the various ways in which we can stop them from coming.
How to stop craving for food??
Every problem comes with a solution. Food craving is no different. Well there are many ways in which we can stop craving for foods.
- Drink water
This is what I tell all my clients. Whenever you feel hungry or get the urge of having any particular food, go drink some water. And then drink some more. Because most of the times we do confuse thirst with hunger pangs or food cravings. And when we drink water, the craving goes away, because we were actually thirsty, and water was all that our body needed at that point of time!
But in case, the urge still persists, try some of the following strategies to overcome your cravings.
- Plan your meals and never stay hungry
Food cravings sneak in usually when we suddenly realize we haven’t eaten in a long while. Suppose you skip a meal or you don’t eat for few hours at a stretch, what happens? You get so hungry; your mind starts thinking about all the possible calorie-rich foods that you can and you do overeat, in order to compensate for that one meal you skipped! To avoid such a situation, it is always better to plan your meals well in advance, on a daily or a weekly basis, adding some proteins in each of the meals since proteins makes you feel full for long and also reduces appetite. When you have your breakfast, lunch and dinners planned with one or two healthy snacks in between, you won’t get hungry frequently. Thus, there won’t be much scope for cravings to sneak in!
- Mindful eating
In the first part of this article, I had talked about the difference in physical and emotional hunger and how the latter causes us to give up to the cravings. So it is very important to take a control over emotional hunger and that’s where mindful eating comes handy. Whenever you sit for meals, make sure that you
- eat slowly
- eat in silence
- shut off all distractions like phone, TV
- pay attention to your portion size, to what you are eating, its taste, texture and flavour
By practicing these techniques, you can gain control over your eating habits. You become aware of your emotions, food-related triggers; you are able to differentiate between actual hunger and cravings. And thus, you are able to respond to those triggers wisely, rather than acting impulsively.
- Sleep well
When we sleep properly, hormonal fluctuations, especially of those which deal with the appetite, remain within the range, thus prevents cravings from showing up.
- Divert your mind from cravings
There are many ways in which we can distance ourselves from the cravings. First and foremost is to get all the junk foods out of site. You can do some exercises, change your surroundings, take a shower, read a book, to name a few.
When stress is the causal factor, we need to identify and deal it in ways that doesn’t involve food. Thinking about your worries with a big bowl of ice cream and some tissues won’t really help you. So slow down and plan properly. You can also try yoga and meditation to cope with your emotions.
- Write food journals
When food craving is a real problem, I would advise you to maintain a food journal, at least for a month. Be alert and note down minute details like times of the day you have cravings, what kind of emotions you have during that time, what and how much do you eat to satisfy your cravings. At the end of the month, try to analyse if your food craving has any particular pattern, like certain times of the day or emotions that tend to bring the cravings on. Then try to minimize those trends by any of the above mentioned ways.
- Find alternates
Whenever you have craving and you take a bite or two and stop, then indulging a little is not harmful. But in case you tend to binge eat, it’s always better to replace the craving completely with a healthier option. For example, I always tell my clients to have fruit custard or a mix fruit salad with some raisins or dates rather than indulging into sugar- & fat-laden confectionaries; or when you want to have aerated beverages, go for fresh lime salted or go for dry fruits or popcorn sprinkled with little salt instead of the oily potato fries.
To conclude, I would like to say that craving is a very common phenomenon, and everyone experiences it at one point or the other. But it is important to know your triggers and your ways of how to stop craving for food, which will make all the difference.