Today I want to talk about how to fight food cravings. This is something I struggle with pretty much every day, so I decided to do some research and put together strategies that have worked for me. If you find yourself craving greasy, sugary, or fatty foods, please keep reading…help is on the way.
What is a food craving?
Well, pretty much anytime you have an intense desire for a specific food that is a craving. People have different foods they crave and for various reasons. According to Medical News Today, food cravings come from regions of the brain that are responsible for memory, pleasure, and reward.
I am sure everyone has heard about pregnant women and food cravings. Some of the foods my wife craved during pregnancy were just really off the wall.
Personally, I crave chocolate. Oh and potato chips. And then there’s kettle corn. Okay, I better just stop. I am a bit of a junk food junkie, I admit. Thankfully I prefer dark chocolate though which does have some health benefits.
Anyway, as you can see, there are different cravings, for different foods depending on the person.
How to fight food cravings
Figure out your triggers
On the weekends, our family likes to watch some shows on Netflix, or we watch a movie. Typically on Friday and Saturday nights, it’s either a couple episodes of a TV series or a movie we have been waiting for.
Along with this comes eating popcorn. I realize when people go to the movies, popcorn is just part of the experience. But why? Honestly, I don’t know, but it seems to come with the territory, and I am no different. I love to eat popcorn when I am at the movies, or at home watching movies.
Now, I LOVE kettle corn. And when we sit down to get our TV fix, I always have a bowl of kettle corn in my lap.
The funny thing is, this does not happen when I watch a football or basketball game, so somehow I have conditioned myself to eat kettle corn when it’s family movie night.
One interesting tidbit I have discovered is that any behavior you have learned, you can unlearn. This is a simple concept, but one that is difficult to implement and actually execute.
Knowing that movies trigger my desire for kettle corn, I am aware of this and work on lessening the impact. If I start a movie with a bowl of kettle corn, I will likely finish that bowl and maybe go for a refill. But if I wait until part way through the movie, I will eat less kettle corn.
So, I know what my trigger is, and I can work on unlearning this behavior.
The art of distraction
Food cravings come, and they will also go. When I have food cravings, one thing I will do is go for a walk. Not only does this get me out of the house, and away from the kitchen, but also the exercise helps to take my mind off the craving.
I know that when I am out for my walk, I don’t have access to any food, and my mind will wander away from thinking about food. Sometimes I will completely forget about the craving, and that is the whole point.
So instead of giving in to my craving, I will get some exercise instead.
We hear this all the time, “everything in moderation.” I have a great example to share with you though when it comes to taking your food craving in moderation.
I buy a case of coke at Costco occasionally. Actually, it’s 35 cans, and it costs me around $10 or $11. Now don’t judge me. I don’t buy this case of Coke because I have a problem, and I drink Coke all the time. This is just the cheapest way I have found to get my “fix.”
So buying in bulk ends up working out to about 30 cents per can. There are times when I am craving a sugary drink. I will crack open a box and have a few sips, then my craving is gone.
Instead of drinking the whole can of Coke, a few sips gets it done for me. That is why I buy the case of coke, it’s cheap, and if I end up throwing out 90% of a can, it’s not a big deal. Everything in moderation.
Don’t buy it
Pretty much says it all right? In addition to kettle corn, I LOVE kettle cooked chips. Hey, I never thought about my “kettle” fetish until right now.
Along with not going grocery shopping when I am hungry, I try to avoid the snack aisle where they keep all of the kettle cooked goodness.
I will tell you it is not easy to pass up on things you crave when you are at the store. There are times when I buy chips, etc. and keep them in the pantry and practice moderation.
Substitute when possible
I mentioned earlier that I like chocolate, specifically Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips. One thing I learned is substituting something like sugar-free chocolate pudding to get my chocolate fix. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised when I tried it.
This, of course, is just one example and something that I like. Maybe if you crave salty potato chips, try popcorn (maybe not kettle corn), just plain popcorn. So, basically, try to find a healthy alternative to whatever it is you are craving at the moment.
Eat something else first
I have some recent firsthand experience here. I have been taking a bag of cucumbers and baby carrots to work with me every day. Although this is by no means a substitute for chocolate, when I am craving chocolate, I eat my veggies. Wouldn’t you know it, but soon after I am not thinking about the chocolate anymore.
Eating something healthy, and not the food you are craving is hard. I literally have to make myself do this. Sometimes it puts me in a bad mood because I didn’t get what my brain was calling for. But, I get over it and move on.
Anyway, the moral here is to try something else, give it some time, and you may find you are not craving anymore. Sometimes just the simple act or motion of putting some sort of food in your mouth is enough to conquer a craving.
Boring but true, I have found water is a great way to get over cravings. Again, the trick is to not give in to the cravings, and actually, just drink water. Hunger and thirst can often play tricks on you, so making sure you are adequately hydrated can work wonders for food cravings.
Conclusion: How to fight food cravings
I deal with food cravings a lot, and sometimes these will last for days. There will be times when I just can’t kick the yearning for an In-N-Out burger, so sometimes I give in, and that’s okay.
Mostly for me, it’s taking all of this in moderation. I drink a few sips of a Coke, and that satisfies my craving. I will eat a handful of kettle cooked chips instead of the whole bag. Sometimes I eat fresh veggies, and later on, I realize my craving is gone.
These are tips that work for me and hopefully will work for you as well. I don’t necessarily wholly kick all my cravings to the curb, but I also don’t give in 100% either.
I hope this article has been helpful. I would love to hear how others deal with food cravings too. If you have questions or comments, please leave them below, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Thanks for stopping by today!