We get it. One minute you’re busy with a report that’s due for the next day, or you’re innocently watching TV, when BAM! You. Must. Have. Cake. And the next thing you know you are tucking into a triple-decker, black forest chocolate cake, with extra icing.
Cravings get the better of all of us. And the fact that the days and nights are colder now that it’s winter, certainly doesn’t make it any easier! A complex combination of physiological and psychological triggers is to blame, but considering a craving typically only last 20 minutes, they can be controlled. Here are 11 tips to kick your unhealthy cravings to the curb!
Identify your trigger: Are you stressed? Have you been eating less than usual? Are you getting enough sleep? All of these factors can contribute to your cravings. Acknowledging the trigger is half the battle won. Provide a solution (eg de-stress, take a nap) and you’ve potentially won it.
Plan your meals to include a healthy, balanced diet: Often a craving is indicative of something lacking in your diet. Ensure you are getting a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals on a daily basis.
Keep a food journal: It’s a pain, but writing down exactly what you eat, when, and how you were feeling at the time, can be a real eye-opener to curbing cravings. Not only does writing it down mean there’s nowhere to hide because everything is there in black and white, but it can also help with why you are having the cravings in the first place.
Make your own, healthier version: Craving hot chips? Make your own using sweet potatoes. Peel and cut into ‘chips’, pat dry, season, drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven. The same could be said for virtually any ‘unhealthy’ craving – you can always put a healthier spin on anything you make.
Don’t go cold turkey: Allow yourself the odd treat. Depriving yourself completely can often have the adverse effect, resulting in binge-eating. But limit your intake – only two pieces of chocolate instead of the whole slab, or share a piece of cake with a friend rather than wolf down the whole slice yourself, etc.
Eat nuts: Eat a handful of walnuts, almonds or peanuts. According to Michael F. Roizen, (MD), eating nuts with two glasses of water will alter your body chemistry and the craving should be gone in 20 minutes.
Drink water: Sometimes you can confuse cravings with dehydration so drink a glass of water first. Alternatively, have a cup of herbal tea. Try Herbex’s range of herbal teas, which not only hydrate the body but offer a host of other benefits too.
Distract yourself: As mentioned, cravings typically only last for 20 minutes, so go for a walk, tidy out the cupboard, phone a friend. Not only will the craving be long-forgotten, but you will have achieved something productive to boot. High five!
Avoid temptation: Clear your cupboards of all temptations, take the long way round if you pass a tempting bakery on the way to work, position yourself across the room from the snack table at a party. You get the idea. Chances are, if it’s not right in front of you, you are unlikely to succumb.
Brush your teeth: Not only does food taste different after you’ve brushed your teeth, it’s doubtful you’ll want to eat anything when you have a fresh, minty mouth.
Kick the habit: Often cravings are just that – a habit. Coffee and a muffin first thing in the morning, a treat with afternoon tea, chocolate after supper in front of the TV – sound familiar? It takes 21 days to break a habit, so be firm for just three weeks and voila, no more habit-induced cravings!