As you may or may not know, I am a Health Coach (formerly known as a Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach) through ACE (American Council on Exercise). At my current job (which ends soon, eek!) I give nutrition consultations to student and staff patrons of the health and wellness center. A common theme I see is that the “bones” of people’s daily diet is great–healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s the in between and after dinner snacking that gets people. It gets me, too! I am sitting here staring down a box of Cheez-its. Well, they are blocked by a door and a cabinet but you know what I mean. At random times throughout the day, the majority of people start to crave something–chocolate, cheese, crackers, etc. If only we could beat those cravings! Well, guess what, you can! Below are some tips I give my clients to overcome the persistent cravings.
- Drink a glass of water. They say if you are craving something salty, you are actually craving water. So take the water instead! I actually believe that no matter what you are craving you should try drinking a large glass of water. Water will fill you up a little bit and can stop the craving all together.
- Keep nutrient-dense snacks on hand. If you are at home, make sure your kitchen is filled with healthy snacks. If you are not at home, make sure you take some travel-friendly snacks with you. (When I say travel, I just mean going from home to work, class, a friend’s house, etc., but this could also apply to bus, train, or plane travel!). Examples of go-to snacks? Carrots, sliced vegetables, hummus (with those veggies), a piece of fruit, mixed nuts, homemade trail mix, yogurt (low sugar).
- Do something. A lot of us snack most when we are just sitting around. We snack while watching tv, surfing the web, etc. If you find yourself craving something at that point, go do something else. Take a walk, exercise, write in a journal (hands are busy, can’t snack! don’t get the journal dirty!), call a friend.
Cravings are such a mental thing. Here are two things to remember:
- The less you eat unhealthy things, the less your body will crave them. Your body will actually start to crave the healthy snacks you have started to incorporate into your diet. Just as you can train your muscles and your mind, you can train your taste buds, too. I promise. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. I used to only be able to drink coffee with a good amount of half-and-half and about 5 tablespoons of sugar. I can drink it black no problem now. Bazinga, bam, done.
- Learn the difference between appetite and hunger. Appetite is when you are craving something specific. I REALLY NEED THAT PIECE OF CHOCOLATE CAKE. Carrots won’t do. Hunger is when your body NEEDS FUEL! And it will be accompanied by tummy growls, stomach aches (poor empty stomach) and headaches if the hunger goes on long enough. Decide whether your craving is hunger or appetite. If it’s hunger–those carrots will be just fine. If it’s appetite, see above for tips.
Happy Crave Fighting! You can do it.