How to Avoid Cravings While Dieting

Three Parts:Making a Successful Diet PlanTackling Emotional EatingTackling a Craving When It Hits

Lots of people have food cravings, especially when they're dieting. These cravings are typically for unhealthy foods that are high in sugar, fat, or sodium. While it may seem impossible to maintain your willpower when faced with a craving, there is hope! If you diet the right way, you will be much less susceptible to food cravings in the first place. It's also important to be aware of the triggers that cause your cravings and to know how to satisfy your cravings without ruining your diet.

Part 1
Making a Successful Diet Plan

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    Make healthy foods more enjoyable. When you're trying to eat healthy, it can be easy to get stuck in a rut of eating the same boring, bland foods. Unfortunately, this kind of pattern is likely to cause you to fail with your diet because you will begin to crave other foods. To stop this from happening, add some variety into your diet.[1]
    • Eat a variety of proteins, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates instead of the same steamed chicken and broccoli every night.
    • Look for new ways to prepare the same foods. For example, instead of eating a plain grilled chicken breast all the time, you could try making a chicken stir fry, a chicken casserole, or chicken tacos.
    • Don't forget to season your food! This will make everything taste better.
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    Don't starve yourself. You are much more likely to have food cravings if you are legitimately hungry. No matter how much weight you want to lose, you should never ignore real hunger.[2]
    • Eat regular meals to keep yourself satisfied and avoid snack cravings. Depriving yourself of food for long periods of time will only make your cravings worse.
    • Eating protein with every meal will help keep you full and energized. Don't wait until diner to get your protein, or else you may find yourself having more food cravings throughout the day.
    • Going longer than five hours without eating anything is usually a bad idea. Consider dividing your regular meals up into smaller meals that you can enjoy more frequently or having two healthy snacks during the day to help keep you full.[3]
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    Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause you to reach for foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates for quick bursts of energy. It may even make you feel hungry when you aren't. If you are constantly tired, getting more sleep can improve your energy and reduce your cravings.[4]
    • Cravings also tend to be at their worst late at night. If you can be asleep during these hours, you'll avoid the cravings.
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    Start your day right. Consuming foods and drinks that are high in sugar early in the day can cause you to crave even more sugar later on. This happens because the sugar only sustains your energy for a short period of time, so you need more sugar to keep going. Avoiding sugar in the morning will help decrease your cravings throughout the rest of the day.[5]
    • Sugary coffee drinks are a major culprit, so steer clear of these sugary drinks.
    • Instead of sugar, eat protein, which will give you long-lasting energy.
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    Don't keep unhealthy foods at home. It's much easier to give in to a craving when the food you want is easily accessible. To avoid this, don't keep unhealthy foods in your home, especially large amounts of them.[6]
    • If you feel like you must give in to a craving, go to the store and buy a single portion of the food you want. Don't bring any of it home with you, or it will be readily available the next time you have a craving.
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    Don't be too hard on yourself. Lots of people get so disappointed with themselves when they cheat on their diets that they give up on them all together. This is very destructive, so don't let a few bad choices derail your entire diet.[7]
    • Instead of giving up, focus on all of the progress you've made. Keeping a positive attitude can help encourage you to keep going.[8]
    • Allowing yourself a little indulgence every now and again is fine as long as it is in moderation.

Part 2
Tackling Emotional Eating

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    Understand your triggers. Most people have food cravings that are triggered by something, whether it is a feeling, a memory, or even a habit. Identifying these triggers is the first step to tackling your cravings.[9]
    • Stress and sadness cause food cravings for many people.
    • Some people also crave certain foods when they are bored or lonely.
    • Cravings can also be caused by good memories that are associated with food. For example, if your mother used to make you macaroni and cheese when you were sick, you may crave it whenever you need comfort.[10]
    • Habitual eating can also cause cravings. For example, if you always eat a piece of cake after dinner, you will start to crave the cake every evening.[11]
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    Keep a food journal. People are often unaware of how much they eat during the day or what causes them to eat. In order to get more in touch with your body and your eating habits, start keeping a written record of everything you eat. Also keep track of how you were feeling before and after you ate.[12]
    • Once you've been keeping a food journal for a while, you can look back at your entries and start to identify unhealthy habits that may be causing your cravings. You may have triggers that you weren't even aware of.
    • A food journal can also help keep you motivated while you are dieting because you will always know exactly how off-track an indulgence will take you.
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    Redirect your focus. If you find yourself craving something due to stress, sadness, or other emotional reasons, do your best to focus your attention on solving your problem in a way that does not involve food. Even taking a small step towards a solution can help your brain ditch its cravings.[13]
    • Consider asking a coworker to help you tackle a problem, making a list of the steps you need to take to finish a large project, or even going for a walk to get your mind off of your problems.
    • Thinking about your weight loss and fitness goals can also help keep you motivated when emotional eating urges strike.
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    Stimulate happiness. People often turn to comfort foods when they're feeling sad or angry. If this is the case for you, find something other than food that can help you feel happy quickly. After a while, your body will no longer crave food to feel happy.[14]
    • Playing upbeat music may help instantly boost your mood.
    • Going for a walk is very effective for some people.
    • Talking to a friend may also boost your mood and keep you distracted enough until your craving passes.
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    Get help for eating disorders. It is possible to diet in a healthy way, but if your relationship with food has become unhealthy in any way, it is very important that you see a doctor, as you might have an eating disorder. An eating disorder is characterized by any eating behaviors that negatively affect your health, including eating too much or eating too little. Eating disorders can be extremely serious, so get professional help right away. Common symptoms of eating disorders include:[15]
    • Having extremely negative thoughts about your weight and your body
    • Excessively restricting your calories
    • Exercising excessively
    • Binging and/or purging

Part 3
Tackling a Craving When It Hits

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    Wait before you indulge. Cravings often go away on their own fairly quickly. If you can wait a little while, you may find that you are no longer craving the food anymore.[16]
    • Along these same lines, be aware that it can take up to 20 minutes for you to feel satisfied after you eat. This means if you eat something to satisfy your craving, you may have to be patient while your body catches up. Don't keep eating more foods to make the craving go away.[17]
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    Try a distraction. Sometimes you just need to get up from your desk or off of the couch in order to curb a craving. Try changing your scenery or doing something to occupy your mind the next time you have a food craving.[18]
    • Find some enjoyable hobbies that can keep you distracted during times of the day when you are most susceptible to cravings. For example, if you tend to get late night cravings while watching TV, consider taking up a hobby that will get your off of your couch. You could also try getting into the habit of exercising at these times.
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    Use healthy foods to satisfy your cravings. Most people crave unhealthy foods like cookies, candy, french fries, or pizza. However, you may find that you would be just as satisfied with a healthier option. The next time you get a craving, try to combat it with a food that fits within your diet.[19]
    • Only do this if you are genuinely hungry. If you are not actually hungry, try a distraction instead.[20]
    • If you crave sugar, try eating a piece of fruit. Fruits like apples, bananas, and berries are very sweet, but also good for you. For some people, chewing gum is enough to tackle a craving for something sweet.
    • If you are craving something savory, try baked vegetable chips, nuts, or raw vegetable and hummus.[21]
    • You can also create healthier versions of many foods. For example, if you are craving pizza, make yourself a personal pizza using a whole wheat English muffin, tomato sauce, and low-fat cheese instead of ordering a traditional pizza.[22]
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    Eat a small amount of the food you're craving. Sometimes it's just not possible to say no to an intense craving. You don't need to deprive yourself of the foods you love all the time, so if you have a bad craving, consider satisfying it by eating only a small amount of an unhealthy food.[23]
    • If you're only going to eat a small amount, make sure it's something really good so you will enjoy it!
    • Eat your food slowly so that you will enjoy each bite and not crave more of it.
    • If you're unsure what a portion is (they are often given by weight) consider buying a small scale and weighing out your portions. This will help you keep track of exactly how much you are eating.[24]
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    Combat PMS cravings with the right snacks. For some women, cravings are especially bad when they have PMS. This may occur due to decreased serotonin levels that occur during this time in a woman's monthly cycle. Luckily, you can increase your levels of serotonin and tackle these cravings by eating two small carbohydrate-rich snacks each day.[25]
    • Avoid snacks that are high in protein, as these will inhibit your production of serotonin.
    • Carbohydrates from fruit will not help your body produce serotonin.
    • Choose snacks that are low in fat and calories in order to avoid sabotaging your diet.
    • Good snack options include popcorn, cereal, an English muffin with jam, frozen yogurt, or low-fat cookies.

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Categories: Losing Weight