It’s important to understand that craving is not the same as hunger. A food or sugar craving is your body asking for a “reward”. If you can eat a little bit and stop whenever you get a craving, it’s perfectly fine to indulge. But if you tend to binge (which is what most people tend to do when a craving hits), it’s a very bad idea to give in, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.
Foods high in sugar or other carbohydrates are most known to cause cravings and can be especially difficult to control. Why is this? Sweet foods and foods rich in carbohydrates release feel-good chemicals, such as serotonin, dopamine, and other relaxing endorphins, in the brain. The effects of these chemicals may make a person more prone to reach for them repeatedly.
Here are five ways to help you resist the cravings or give in to them in the healthiest way possible.
- Give in a little
To tame a food or sugar craving, it may be a good idea to give in just a little bit. For example, if your body is craving chocolate, eat one square from a chocolate bar or a small choco-chip cookie. This way, you get a taste of the favorite food as well as stop yourself from feeling denied.
- Drink a glass of water
Studies have found that people on a diet who drink more water are often quicker to lose weight than those who don’t. When the craving hits, drink a glass of water and then wait. If the craving goes away, your body might actually have misinterpreted thirst as a food craving.
- Deny yourself the food completely
Some people find that denying themselves completely makes the cravings lessen after a few days. Others find they may still crave the food, but over a period of time are able to train their bodies to be satisfied with less. But remember, the initial 48 to 72 hours are very tough going.
- Chew some gum
Research has shown that chewing gum can reduce cravings. If you want to avoid giving in to a craving completely, try chewing a stick or pellet of gum.
- Eat some fruit
Always keep your home stocked with your favorite fruit. Whenever the craving hits, reach for the fruit. This way, you’ll get fiber and nutrients along with some sweetness. Stock up on foods like nuts, seeds, and dried fruits, too.