Top Tips from A Registered Dietitian to Manage Cravings
We’ve all been there. You walk in the door from a long day and head to the pantry, grab a bag of chips, and chow down. Before you know it, the chips are gone and you hear yourself muttering those oh-so-familiar words “I’ll do better tomorrow.” Situations like this can leave you feeling like chips (insert any crave-worthy food) are the problem and you just can’t be trusted around these foods.
But swearing them off altogether rarely works because eventually those foods make their way back into your life whether at a social event, because someone you live with brings them home (or asks you to buy them), or at work. Or maybe you just finally give into the craving and buy it yourself. Instead of trying to cut out foods you enjoy, try these tips instead to keep cravings at bay and feel more confident around your favorite foods.
- Eat regular, well-balanced meals. Skipping meals, going long periods of time between meals, or eating meals that lack protein, fiber-rich carbs, and fat, can leave your body and brain running on empty. This results in intense cravings for highly palatable, quickly digested carbohydrates (hello snack pantry!). While everyone is wired differently, many people benefit from eating within an hour or two of waking up, and then every three to five hours during waking hours. For some people this may end up being three meals, for others, balanced snacks like BeBOLD bars can be helpful to ward off cravings.
- Make sure you’re eating enough. Intense cravings are often a result of under-eating. Your body will do anything they can to get the energy they need, which often means craving sugary foods or other refined carbs.
- Practice mindful eating. Eating while distracted (whether that’s in front of a screen or while trying to cook dinner while keeping your kids from tearing apart the house), is a sure way to overeat and feel out of control around a food. When we’re distracted, we don’t get the full benefit and pleasure from foods and we’re less in tune with when our body has had enough. Check out our tips on how to eat more mindfully.
- Stop making certain foods off limits. It’s human nature to want things we can’t have. For many people, just the act of swearing off a certain food makes them crave it more. Instead, learn to accept that all foods can be part of a healthy diet by allowing yourself to enjoy your favorite foods. Start by including an off-limits food at a meal so you’re eating it at a time when there are other foods to fill you up — and practice mindful eating when you try it.
- Manage your stress. Stress can lead to a shift in hormones that results in craving certain foods (you guess it — those highly palatable carbs). Learn to manage your stress eating.
Sarah Gold Anzlovar, MS, RDN, LDN is a registered dietitian, certified intuitive eating counselor, and the owner of Sarah Gold Nutrition, a virtual private practice and nutrition communications consulting business in the suburbs of Boston. She empowers busy women to ditch diets and learn to eat to feel their best without the stress.