How to Fight Food Cravings
7 easy ways to tame your appetite monster.
Maybe it strikes on a Friday afternoon, or a Saturday night, or even a Wednesday morning. But no matter when you get it, all you know is that you have to have a chocolate bar/piece of cake/enormous cookie RIGHT NOW, and nothing else will do. You run to the vending machine or the supermarket—and an hour later start scolding yourself for, once again, violating your diet.
We’ve all been there. But, experts say, you don’t have to go there again. Food cravings are powerful and overwhelming, but you can win the battle against them with a few simple dietary and mind/body techniques.
First off, recognize that your craving for sweets isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a physiological need. Says Lynn Tomilowicz, R.D., C.D.N., “Sugar increases the level of serotonin” – a chemical produced in the brain that is linked to (among other things) appetite and mood. So sugar really does make you feel better, says Tomilowicz, who is affiliated with New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia, in New York City. The problem is, she says, is that a mood change caused by sugar will “spike” quickly and leave you feeling down again – and craving another round of sweets. Sound familiar?
The experts’ solutions:
*Eat more—of the right stuff. To keep your blood sugar level on an even keel, preventing cravings, Tomilowicz says, “eat every three to four hours.” Depending on what makes you feel best, you can eat three meals with two snacks (like a piece of fresh fruit) in between, or six small meals (a yogurt with a piece of fruit, or half a peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread).
*Focus on fiber. “Eat whole grain cereals, whole-wheat bread and whole-wheat pasta,” Tomilowicz recommends. You’ll feel fuller and be less likely to experience those gotta-have-it urges.