Junk food cravings can happen to the best of us.
Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar! Or at least some kind of weird superhuman. Read on for my top five tips for beating cravings for good:
Have a cup of tea
Stress is often a very large contributing factor to the initiation of a food craving. Not only do high-sugar and high-fat foods tend to soothe us when we are freaking out, but stress causes a disruption in the balance a of some key hormones - namely an increase in cortisol and ghrelin. Increased production of cortisol, often known as the stress hormone, can cause our bodies to crave sweets and ghrelin is a hormone associated with the regulation of hunger, so more of that in your system will intensify your desire to eat - a pretty potent combo.
Try relaxing with a cup of tea, having a warm bath or doing a quick de-stress yoga sequence to help calm your body and your mind.
Take a walk around the block
Distraction is a fantastic way to deal with cravings, and what better way to distract yourself than with some calorie-burning exercise. Double-whammy! The fresh air and endorphins will help keep your stress levels in check and the incidental exercise is a great way to reaffirm your health goals and your commitment to making healthy choices. Bonus points if you stop to do some body-weight resistance exercises such as squats, lunges, burpees and push-ups.
Phone a friend
When the urge to scoff the entire jar of nutella comes calling fight back by calling one of your nearest and dearest; someone who will understand that you just need to talk to them for a few minutes and not encourage you to "treat yo self!".
Cravings are often triggered by negative emotions (not too many people crave junk food when they're in a good mood...) so being able to unload your worries to someone you care about and who cares about you will help bring your mood back up. Then hopefully by the time you've finished speaking you'll a) feel better and b) no longer need to scoop nutella out of the jar with your hands to save precious time getting it into your mouth.
Read a book (or do a puzzle)
Cravings are very much a mind game, so to push the thought of chocolate or cake or hot chips out of your mind try replacing it with something else. A good book, an engaging video or a puzzle are a great way to refocus your mind while the craving runs its course. The more your brain has to focus on the task at hand the more it will reduce the craving as it stops sneaky images of whatever it is you're after from popping into your head.
In a 2013 study, published in the journal Appetite, researchers found that women who looked at a smartphone app that showed a rapidly changing visual display whenever they had a craving reported that the craving became less intense. Bring on the Tetris!
Number five is a real kicker, but my favourite of the lot:
Have a small portion and move on
Restriction very often leads to binging. When you deny yourself a certain food or food group you generally find yourself thinking about it more than normal - it's science. Attempted restriction or deprivation of a particular food is associated with an increase in craving for the unavailable food, so the more you tell yourself you can't have the chips the more you find yourself wanting them.
Stop cravings getting out of control by enjoying a small portion of your chosen food and then stop. By not putting any food or food groups in a special 'forbidden' basket you remove the intensity of your desire. Stop denying yourself small portions of unhealthy food and embrace portion control and moderation.
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