Training Yourself to Eat Healthier

Food cravings, we all have them. They are very, very common. So, how about learning to live with them without gaining weight?

Food cravings are an overwhelming sensation of desire for a certain food and there are a number of chemicals in the brain that are associated with them. Genetics might play a role in food cravings, but it’s more likely that there is a commonality in food cravings among all people. The types of foods people crave are individual, but in general, cravings are common and are foods high in calories, not for foods specifically high in carbohydrates or fats.

The most commonly craved foods are sweets like chocolate and some are salty like potato chips and French fries. The craved foods do have carbohydrates, but they also have fat and some protein too. The most identifiable thing about the foods people crave is that they’re highly dense in calories. Meaning high in calories.

Can We Stop Food Cravings?

Regardless of why we crave certain foods -- we can “rewire the brain” and help curb these cravings so they don’t get out of control. One thing we need to do is understand that cravings are completely normal. In fact, the vast majority of people report food cravings. We have a deep biological desire to eat sugary, fatty and salty foods whether we are hungry or not. And there is nothing wrong with giving into a craving – occasionally and within reason. The more you resist that craving, the stronger it gets and when you do indulge it is very easy to go overboard. So stay on top of your cravings and allow small portions of these craved foods from time to time.

Below are tips that can help eliminate or satisfy cravings without all the excess calories (and weight gain associated with giving into cravings too frequently or in too large of quantities).

Put Off Cravings

Tell yourself you'll deal with the craving in 20 minutes. Food cravings are typically short-lived, and while the desire for chips, chocolate or cake feels overwhelming now, it will wane, especially if you can find a healthier food substitute or distract yourself by taking a walk, drinking a glass of water or doing a short task.

Cut Back on Craved Foods

As I always say, the more you eat of an unhealthy food, the more you crave it. With that being said, it’s important to cut yourself off from your cravings for a period of time (2 weeks, for example). It may be difficult to eliminate chocolate or sweets from your diet, but after that time period you will notice you crave the food a lot less. It essentially “reboots” your desire for the food.

Plan Ahead

What is your schedule look like? Are there parties happening? Will there be a piece of cake in your future that you won’t be able to resist? Schedule your indulgences. If you know you will have a piece of cake, eat less of your meal. It’s okay to have treats -- once in a while. And if they are planned and you can still stay on track with your healthy meal habits, the treats become even more enjoyable!

Outsmart a Craving

Get active. Take a walk, work on a hobby or call a friend. What you really may be craving is social support. A chat with a sympathetic friend can get you through a tough craving. It’s also important to keep a craving journal. Note the time of day your craving appeared, how long it lasted, the food you craved and how you handled the situation. You’ll start noticing patterns so you can be better prepared to handle cravings in the future.

All foods can be included in the diet, even the “unhealthy foods” that are most likely to be craved. It may sound counterintuitive, but strict dietary deprivation will almost always backfire. So, trick those food cravings and train yourself to start eat healthier with these 4 tips. You may even notice your scale is a little lighter due to reducing your frequent food cravings.

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