If you have trouble resisting your cravings for snacks—particularly unhealthy ones—then you’re not alone. But have you ever wondered why you’re so compelled to eat when your body probably doesn’t need those extra calories? It may be because of stress or boredom rather than being truly hungry—poor reasons to pack on the pounds.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to stop cravings between meals and help you maintain a healthy weight.
Out of Sight, Out of Stomach
Don’t keep foods you want to avoid at home. You know which foods they are; the ones you feel like you have to reach for when you see them sitting on the counter or when you open the refrigerator. Common binge foods include cookies, candy bars, ice cream, and chips.
Plan your trip to the grocery store after you’ve eaten. If you write your shopping list or go to the store when you’re hungry, you’ll be more likely to make impulse buys and purchase foods to satisfy your cravings.
Postpone, Postpone, Postpone...
Your cravings may be saying “right now!” but you can respond with “maybe later.” Reassure yourself that you’ll deal with the craving in 20 minutes. Most food cravings are short-lived, and your desire for chips, chocolate, or cake may feel overwhelming at first, but it will get weaker. Try to find a healthier food option to distract you; it may even satisfy the craving—without all the guilt.
Stay on Schedule
If you know you’re going to start losing energy at certain times of the day, plan for nutritious snacks to guard against between-meal cravings. Make sure they’re portable, healthy snacks you can leave in places like your backpack, desk, or car so you can just grab them and satisfy your hunger right away.
Keep a Clean Mouth Clean
Try brushing your teeth after a meal or a snack. It’ll make you less likely to eat another treat because you won’t want to ruin that fresh feeling in your mouth.
Go with H2O
A great way to curb cravings is to drink a glass of water. It may fool your stomach into thinking it’s full and help you avoid the urge to snack.
Grab Some (Sugarless) Gum
Because it has a sweet flavor and keeps your mouth busy, try chewing sugarless gum to help calm your cravings for sugar and avoid eating other food with more calories.
Keeping yourself busy will help take your mind off food and avoid giving in to cravings. Some things you can do to divert your attention are to go for a walk, talk to a friend, read, play music, enjoy your pets or children, take a long hot bath, or do some physical work around the house or garden.
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Sometimes it simply comes down to the size of what you’re eating. Over the last few years, portion sizes have gotten larger in restaurants and in grocery stores. That means you’re likely to give in to cravings and eat more without realizing it.
Some ways to manage this problem include:
- Splitting restaurant meals with a friend or family member. There will be less food on your plate while you eat, and it will be gone faster from the table so you won’t be able to indulge cravings for more than you need.
- Immediately wrapping up part of your meal to bring home in a “to-go” box. You’ll be less likely to eat it at that moment because it will be out of your sight, yet you’ll know you’ll get to enjoy the rest later.
- Serving food at home on individual plates instead of keeping serving dishes on the table where more food can be easily reached.
- Avoiding eating snacks directly out of the package. Put a smaller serving of them in a bowl instead.