I'm certainly no stranger to the occasional urge to open a chocolate bar, drive through the fast food line, or dive into a bag of chips -- and I'll bet you aren't a stranger to this either. The occasional indulgence isn't anything to be alarmed about, but if you find yourself licking the remnants of these indulgences off your fingers regularly, it may be time to take charge of your cravings. The goal here is to control your cravings, not let them control you. Consider these tips to get back on track with your healthy routine for Fall:
Get to the root of your cravings. Notice when you are craving these foods. Is it boredom? Did you have a horrible day? Are you bored? Tired? Stressed? All of these instances can trigger a food craving. Once you identify why, be mindful. Next time the craving hits, stop and evaluate your surroundings, noticing what may be triggering this craving. Practice the 80/20 rule. Restrain yourself 80% of the time and enjoy the things you crave 20% of the time. Eating healthy the majority of the time will lower your cravings drastically, anyway.
Eat more often. This may sound counterintuitive, but if you eat more often, you’ll keep your blood sugar levels stable. Pack a healthy snack to enjoy mid-morning and another snack for mid-afternoon. By doing so, you’ll feel fuller longer and be less likely to surf your cupboards in search of something crunchy, salty or sweet.
Slow down when eating. Whether you are eating a nutritious meal or splurging, mindful eating is the best way to keep from overeating. Your brain doesn’t get the message that your stomach is full for about twenty minutes. Therefore, slowly chew your food. Savor the flavors. Place your fork next to your plate between bites. Focus on the conversation instead of the food. Then you’ll find you won’t need to eat your entire portion, nor will you feel like you have room for dessert.
Do something else. Cravings never last forever. Eventually, you’ll forget about your craving if you distract yourself. Go for a walk, read a book, call a friend, fold the laundry, or clean out that junk drawer. Before you know it, you’ll have forgotten about that nagging craving.
Swap smartly. If you really can’t help munching while you are watching a movie, swap out unhealthy options for healthier ones. Choose crispy carrot and celery sticks with hummus or a small serving of mixed nuts. Want something cool, sweet and refreshing? Freeze melon balls to get an ice cream-like experience without the guilt.
Keep your food cravings out of the house. There is truth to the phrase “out of sight, out of mind,” especially when it comes to food cravings. You can’t eat what you don’t have, so keep your trigger foods out of your home, office, car. If you get a craving, you’ll be less likely to go out of your way to get them.
Cravings will come and go, but when you're armed with solutions to combat them, you're putting yourself in the position to control the cravings, rather than being controlled by them.
Sara Wolfsen is a Certified Health & Lifestyle Coach who specializes in helping people make their own healthy changes by providing private health and lifestyle coaching, nutrition education and wellness classes with guidance and gentle support for lasting weight loss and building healthier habits. Learn more online at www.sarawolfsen.com.