When we are trying to lose weight, our worst enemy can be food cravings.
Cravings are different than normal hunger. They are uncontrollable and intense desires for certain foods and very hard to resist.
While cravings for certain foods can vary person to person, they are usually highly processed “junk foods” that contain a lot of sugar.
One of the most common pitfalls for people trying to lose weight are these cravings.
Here are 10 simple ways to avoid these cravings that will help you lose unwanted weight and keep it off.
1. Eat Foods Rich in Protein
Eating protein-rich foods reduces appetite and allows you to eat less while still feeling full. Studies have shown that eating a high-protein breakfast significantly reduced cravings (1).
Including more protein in your diet can reduce cravings by up to 60% as well as reduce the desire for nighttime snacking by 50%.
2. Drink More Water
It is easy to confuse being thirsty with being ravenously hungry.
When you feel a strong urge to give into a craving, drink a large glass of water and wait about five minutes.
Chances are you will find the craving disappears because what your body actually wanted was water.
Drinking a glass of water before a meal can reduce appetite as well as cravings, resulting in faster and more permanent weight loss.
3. Plan Meals in Advance
Planning your meals a week in advance eliminates the temptation to give in to cravings.
Planning ahead means you don’t have to think about what to eat – it’s already planned. Stick with your plan and you will be less likely to experience cravings.
Planning ahead for each meal eliminates uncertainty and last minute eating, both of which can cause cravings.
4. Reduce or Avoid Stress
Non-stressed women eat significantly fewer calories than women under stress (10).
Minimize stress in your environment by planning your meals in advance, practicing meditation and getting regular exercise such as walking.
Stress increases eating, cravings and weight gain, especially in women.
5. Don’t Get Too Hungry
Eating regular, planned meals and keeping healthy snacks on hand will help you avoid getting extremely hungry.
By eating smaller, more frequent and healthy meals you may be able to avoid cravings altogether.
Hunger is a leading cause for cravings. Avoid extreme hunger by always having a healthy snack ready.
6. Try Spinach Extract
Spinach extract is a nutrition supplement made from spinach leaves.
One study proved that adding 5 grams of spinach extract daily reduced cravings for chocolate and high-sugar foods by an amazing 87–95% (16).
Spinach extract slows the digestion of fat and enhances the hormones responsible for controlling appetite and cravings.
7. Eating Mindfully
By practicing mindfulness in relation to foods and eating increases your awareness of true hunger vs. cravings and overeating.
Mindful eating is about choosing how you respond to cravings vs. actual hunger.
8. Importance of Sleep
Sleep deprivation greatly affects the hormones that regulate hunger during waking hours.
People who are sleep-deprived are 55% more likely to suffer from obesity, compared to people who get enough sleep (22).
Sleep deprivation disrupts healthy fluctuations in appetite-related hormones, leading to poor appetite control and increased cravings.
9. Eat Properly
A diet lacking in the proper nutrients can cause certain cravings. It is also important to eat at regular mealtimes.
If you do need a snack between meals, choose something healthy. Eat only whole foods, such as nuts, fruits, veggies or seeds.
Eating regular, nutritious meals can help prevent hunger and cravings.
10. Don’t Grocery Shop Hungry
Grocery stores and food markets are the worst places to be when you are having cravings.
At the supermarket you have easy access to virtually any food you are craving, making it likely you will NOT make the healthy food choices
Also, supermarkets purposefully place the unhealthiest foods right at eye level.
Eat before you go food shopping to reduce the risk of unwanted cravings and impulsive food purchases.
Cravings are common, especially when trying to lose weight. Greater than 50% of people experience cravings on a daily basis (26).
Cravings play a key role in food addictions, weight gain and binge eating (23).
Being mindful of what triggers your cravings makes them much easier to control. It also makes it a lot easier to eat healthy while losing weight at the same time.
Mindful eating to control your cravings is the key to changing your habits so any progress you make can be permanent!