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30-Day Slim Down Challenge Day 15: 6 Tips for Stopping Food Cravings

author image Deborah Day
Deborah Day is a lifestyle and entertainment writer and editor. Former editor in chief of Maxim.com and executive editor of Premiere.com, she has been published on EW.com, TheWrap.com, Yahoo.com, LAmag.com and other media sites, as well as in Maxim, Interview and Time Out NY magazines.
Choose the body! Choose the body!
Choose the body! Choose the body! Photo Credit Gracie Wilson/LIVESTRONG.COM; Adobe Stock

Cravings. We all have them. They're completely normal. The real challenge is not giving into them too often. Learning what causes your cravings and how to manage them will help you stay on track.

First off, a craving is not hunger. When you're hungry, your body has various ways of telling you that it wants and needs sustenance. It requires fuel to keep running, and pretty much anything will do.

A craving is a hankering for a specific food ― usually the type that is not part of your healthy eating plan. Where do cravings come from, though? The answer lies in your brain. Research suggests that your brain is partially responsible because mental imagery plays a major role in cravings.

When you crave a certain food, your brain generates vivid images of that food, reinforcing the craving and making it more powerful. When your brain is generating the imagery accompanying your craving, it has less brainpower available for other cognitive tasks. (So don't try solving algebraic equations while you're overwhelmed by the desire to gobble french fries.)

6 Tips for Stopping Food Cravings

  1. Be proactive; eat regularly and don't let yourself get too hungry
  2. Keep healthy snacks on hand wherever you are, especially when you're on the go
  3. Drink plenty of water; sometimes your body mistakes thirst for hunger
  4. Make sure you're allowing yourself regular "cheat meals" so you don't feel deprived
  5. When a craving strikes, focus on something else; go for a walk, meditate, read, etc.
  6. Indulge a little by having a piece of dark chocolate or fruit if you're craving sweets

When a craving hits, track it. Write it down and note what you're doing when it strikes, how you're feeling and how you handled it. This helps you better understand and control them so you don't have to cave to cravings.

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For daily support, motivation and camaraderie with LIVESTRONG.COM team members, join our 30-Day Slim Down Facebook Group. We'll share daily recipes, tips, motivations, pictures and more! Plus, we'll answer all your questions.

Sign up for our newsletter if you want periodic reminders to get linked up with helpful LIVESTRONG.COM articles and tips.

Why the MyPlate Calorie Tracker Helps You Lose Weight

Documenting your food and activity might seem like overkill, but it’s not. People who track their calories and physical activities enjoy greater success losing weight and keeping it off for good!

Tracking everything honestly is essential to making the 30-Day Slim Down Challenge work for you. Sometimes you’re not even aware of everything you consume, but once you start tracking it you’ll think twice before you make poor choices. And that’s a good thing.

With LIVESTRONG.COM’s free MyPlate Calorie Tracker — available on desktop and for iOS and Android devices — you can track it all:

-Daily meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and snacks
-Exercise and activity
-BMI (Body Mass Index)

Read More About How to Squash Your Cravings:

The 10 Best Foods to Beat Your Sugar Cravings
How to Make Your Body Resist Food Cravings

Cravings & Vitamin Deficiencies

Readers — Are you joining us in the 30-Day Slim Down Challenge? If so, what is your weight-loss goal? Have you ever done a weight loss fitness challenge group before? How did it go for you? Have you joined our LIVESTRONG.COM 30-Day Slim Down Group on Facebook? Leave a comment below and let us know


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