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Have you ever had a night that right before bedtime, you all of a sudden started craving ice cream or something else to eat? You tell yourself that you know it’s not good to be eating that late, especially junk food. However, all of a sudden you find yourself gobbling it down anyway. Your taste buds just had a romp in the park like a puppy unleashed for the first time.
An article by Alyssa Raiola gives some hints on how to stop any craving right when it hits you. No matter if it’s a late-night slice of pizza or a sugary breakfast pastry, everyone has these cravings (especially my teenage grandson)! It’s so difficult to ignore those cravings that our brains actually play a huge role in. Of course, those luscious looking food ads on TV don’t help us much either. These cravings are both mental and physical, according to Michael Mantell, Ph.D., a transformational behavioral coach who specializes in obesity. He believes it begins in your mind and then in your mouth.
It isn’t just a lack of self-control but could also be your body’s way of asking for more fuel. The body is designed to do everything to prevent you from starving, so if you don’t give your body enough food, or food that breaks down too quickly, it releases stress hormones. Tara Coleman, a clinical nutritionist says your body wants fuel fast and it usually wants it in the simplest form (sugar), which is why we tend to crave sweets and carbs and not those veggies.
Those cravings can also be tied to feelings of sadness, anger, boredom, stress and even excitement. Be aware of this connection because we can’t avoid feeling stressed, tired or really hungry all the time.
Try the following tips to avoid these cravings:
- Reach for some organic Greek yogurt or a handful of nuts the next time you’re craving something sweet. Have a high-protein snack and avoid that sugar.
- Try some breathing exercises when you feel that craving coming on. Take three deep breaths as a time to check in with your emotions and ask yourself why you want to eat this now. Gina Hassick, R.D. believes it’s kind of like practicing yoga or any other type of mindfulness. Just ground yourself.
- Change the way you think as it can often change the way you feel. Tell yourself you’ll have it some other time and trick your brain a little by taking the craving off the priority list.
- Even if you don’t believe it, write down the ideal response. When it hits you, tell yourself it’s only a craving and you don’t HAVE to eat it now. No emergency!
- Think about how you’ll feel in 20 minutes as it can affect your stress level, mood and alertness, so avoid that indulgence.
- Try treating yourself – without food! Engage in a pleasurable activity as taking a bath, calling a friend, getting a massage or listening to your favorite song. Do something that makes you happy.
- Make your body feel better by distraction as sipping on tea, chewing gum or just getting outside to focus on something else.
- This is a bit counterintuitive but if we just “can’t” do without, just take a small taste and tell yourself it’s bad or off limits and you can have it later.
It’s important to make sure you’re putting enough fuel in your body before a craving even strikes. Don’t go too low in calories, protein and fat or you will wonder why you’re spending the entire night snacking. Steer clear of caffeine, drink lots of water and prioritize your sleep to kick cravings to the curb. Otherwise, just take control of your own thoughts and actions or treat yourself in a different way to upend those cravings.
Dr Fredda Branyon