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's 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
- Drink plenty of water. Sometimes your body mistakes thirst for hunger. Pro tip: Add a slice of lemon for variety.
- Be proactive. Eat regularly and don't let yourself get too hungry.
- Keep healthy snacks on hand wherever you are, especially when you're on the go.
- Allow yourself to give into the cravings from time to time in a controlled portion so you don't feel deprived.
- When a craving strikes, focus on something else — go for a walk, meditate, read, etc.
- 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.