How to manage food cravings
We have all fallen prey to one or more fad diets that we have heard about from our friends or the internet. We have attempted to get fitter or lose weight using these diets but not everyone has been successful in their efforts. One of the top reasons why most people cannot continue with their diet for a long period of time and get desired results is because of cravings.
When we try to eat healthy or follow a strict diet, we consciously suppress our cravings and avoid certain foods. This perceived deprivation can lead to a build up of resentment towards our diet which makes it more likely for us to indulge in our cravings. It is said, around 90% of the population experience food cravings, irrespective of whether they follow a diet or not.
The reason why cravings can be problematic is because they are hard to ignore and can lead to consuming excessive amounts of nutrient-poor and calorie-dense food such as ice-creams, wafers, cakes, fries, pizzas, etc. While some people don’t worry about their cravings and can eat what they want; there are others who are controlled by their cravings. They blame it on their lack of self-control and end up bingeing on their favourite foods. Cravings cannot just be explained because of lack of self control. They are actually caused by the interplay of neurons in the brain’s reward centre, appetite hormones, behavioural conditioning and also easy access to tasty, delicious foods that reinforce this craving cycle. Studies have also found that people who restrict themselves from enjoying their favourite foods or are on constant diets, fall into the trap of their cravings more often and end up binge eating more frequently. This in turn can derail them from their health goals and lead to frustration. It is important to remember that cravings are natural and instead of suppressing them, accepting them and learning how to manage them can be more beneficial.
So today we are going to discuss how we can try to manage our cravings without constantly fighting with them.
- Eat enough calories: Always focus on a balanced diet which includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and healthy fat. A balanced diet will promote the feeling of fullness and keep cravings at bay.
- Choose what you eat carefully: Try to limit food items which are rich in refined flour, oil, salt, sugar. These just provide empty calories and can lead to more cravings.
- Eat at correct intervals: Try to eat a balanced breakfast to manage morning hunger pangs. When blood sugar levels drop, the brain sends signals which lead to cravings for high-calorie food. Make sure you don’t unintentionally or intentionally go for a long period of time without eating even throughout the day.
- Meal Prepping: Try to meal plan and prep for an entire week on one day. Having a plan can limit resorting to easily accessible calorie-rich food. You will be more prone to eating the right meals if food is prepped and there is a meal plan in place.
- Be mindful of your portion size: Fill your plate with only half of how much you would originally load up. Once you finish eating your first helping, decide if you need a second helping and then refill your plate.
- Hydrate: We all know how important water is for our overall health. Try to ensure that water is your primary source of hydration. While everybody requires different amounts of water, 1.5 to 2 litres is the minimum that we all need. You can also include some herbal teas.
- Slow down: Take time to finish a meal. It takes about twenty minutes for our stomach to send the message to the brain saying that it’s full. A good idea would be to keep your cutlery down after each bite, ensure that you have completely swallowed your previous bite and then take the next bite.
- Sleep for at least 7 hours: We know that sleep can affect brain functioning, and
hormone levels. Hence, lack of sleep can suppress hormones that regulate food intake which can then lead to cravings.
- Allow yourself to indulge once in a while: Don’t restrict yourself from eating your favourite food all the time. This behaviour could result in binge eating which could be more harmful than eating that slice of a margherita pizza at a party.
- Eat Mindfully: Try to eat at least one meal without combining it with another activity like watching tv or talking on the phone. Create an eating schedule and try to eat at one place whenever possible.
- Exercise: Exercise can not only be a good distraction from your cravings but also regulate them. Exercise can affect hormones and brain activity which drive hunger. So, don’t wait to start with your 20 minutes workout, even if it’s from home. Pull out your yoga mat today, play some music and get moving.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself: It is okay if you slip up once in a while. Accept your cravings and learn to manage them through patience and practice.
We hope some of these practical tips can help you manage your cravings and constantly move closer to your health and
fitness goals. If you are looking to start your fitness journey, check out Leviosa’s basic gym products which you can easily store at home or use at the gym. For more inspiration, visit our website here.
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