Eliminating food cravings doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself, or tricking your body with hunger suppressants. Here we look at three natural ways to beat cravings and feel healthier.
1. Understand That Cravings Are Natural
Our bodies have been reconditioned to accept a diet of addictive processed foods and additives like MSG, caffeine and refined sugar. None of these have any nutritional value, yet they’re the kinds of foods we crave the most.
Historically, food cravings have been the body’s way of letting us know what nutrients we’re low in, says health coach Corrina Rachel: “So, if someone’s body is low in vitamin C, then they might actually start craving citrus.”
Therefore, food cravings only work against you if you’re eating a diet of mostly processed foods.
When you swap out processed foods for whole and raw ones, you gain the nutrients which keep you fuller for longer.
Good substitutions are raw nuts, seeds and legumes if you crave chocolate (because they have the magnesium your body wants), and high-protein foods like fish and meat (containing nitrogen) instead of bread. See a more complete list of substitutions here.
2. Mind over Matter
It’s no surprise that when 3:30-itis strikes you’re off daydreaming about the warmth and butteriness of a fresh croissant. Talking to Livescience professor John May identified that cravings arise when we become conscious of hunger, and dwell on the thought of food. The longer we stay thinking what we feel we want to eat rather than simply eating, the more impulsive (and unhealthy) our food decisions become.
Food cravings are part of what’s known as are “hedonic hunger”, eating for enjoyment’s sake, but it’s just as likely that we’re eating and multi-tasking, causing us to unconsciously overeat.
A famous mindfulness exercise involves using all five senses to slowly enjoy eating a single raisin. If you bring a mindful practise to your overall eating habits, not only will you have greater enjoyment of your food, but eating slower will mean less chance of overeating and bingeing.
3. Don’t Deprive Yourself – Eat Regularly
Simply trying to ignore hunger isn’t a healthy long-term solution to craving control, and can often make cravings worse.
A better option is to eat regular meals throughout the day, and be conscious of portion size. Nutritionist Resource suggests that women should eat every 3-4 hours, while men should eat every 4-5 hours.
It’s well-know that the body often confuses thirst for hunger, but drinking water half an hour before a meal can help you feel fuller (meaning you eat less), and also increase your metabolism.