Dieting and weight loss will inevitably lead to cravings. Our body simply doesn’t like to be in an energy deficit and there will signal you that it wants more food. So at the very top of your discipline to-dos will be to learn how to cope with cravings.
To do this we have to first identify the reasons for your cravings and then do everything to minimize their effect on your behavior.
Please understand that hunger cravings are always stimulated by emotional cues along with physiological ones, so we need to understand the psychology behind them as well as their biological causes.
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Ask Whether You’re Really Hungry
This might seem obvious, but many people don’t eat out of hunger but out of habit. Before eating they forget to figure out their level of hunger. For this, take a short time out and ask yourself: How am I feeling? Is this real hunger or an old habit of eating chips along with my Friday night movie?
Identifying that you might not actually be hungry is a huge step in not giving in to every craving. Now, this doesn’t mean that you might not really be hungry and should eat. In this case, of course, you want to actually eat something. But the act of taking a timeout also reduces your chances of eating junk food to satisfy your cravings.
Ask Yourself What Your Body Needs
Cravings are a natural response from our body signaling us that it needs something. General hunger is a signal that it wants more of any type of food and you will then have to decide if this is due to an actual need of nutrition or if your body is just used to a higher food consumption and eating less and standing the hunger will not negatively affect you.
Cravings for certain foods are a little different. They are often a sign that your body needs more of a specific nutrient. For example, a strong desire for red meat could be a hint that you need more iron.
The most common craving, which is for sweet foods like chocolate, usually isn’t due to a nutrient deficiency, unless you are diabetic. Your body simply recognizes sugar as a quick source of energy because of all the sugar it contains.
Switching a chocolate bar for an apple would give you the similar results in regards to quick energy intake, but it would also be a lot more filling and nutritious.
If you believe that you actually might be deficient in a certain mineral or vitamin, a blood test will measure whether you need to load up on any nutrient in particular.
Once you are craving a certain food you tend to imagine what it would be like to eat this food, it’s texture, taste and so forth. Don’t do it though, it will only make your craving more extreme.
Instead, distract yourself from the thought by either chewing on something like sugar-free gum or eating other healthy snacks like vegetables or fruits.
Switching to a different activity can also help. For example, if you are at your desk craving chocolate, getting a glass of water and walking around the office can help.
Such activates will separate you from the craving and give you time to reflect on your diet and remind yourself of your goals. A good tip is also to drink something warm, like tea. This takes time and is more filling than water.