People tend to crave junk food a lot.
I personally believe this to be the main reason it can be so hard to stick to a healthy diet.
Cravings are driven by the brain's need for "reward" - not the body's need for food.
IF you can have one bite and stop there, then indulging a little when you get a craving is absolutely fine.
But if you tend to binge and overeat as soon as you get a taste of sugary foods, then giving in to the cravings is the worst thing you can do.
Here is a simple 3-step plan to stop sugar cravings.
You can do one of them. If one doesn't work, you can do two, or all three.
It is important to realize that a craving is NOT the same as hunger.
It's not your body calling for energy, it is the brain calling for something that releases a lot of dopamine in the reward system.
However, if you get a craving and you're hungry, that just makes it much, much worse.
A craving combined with hunger is a powerful drive that most people's willpower will have a hard time overcoming.
If you get a craving and you are at all hungry, then start cooking immediately and eat a healthy meal.
Eating real food may not feel very appetizing at the moment you have a craving for something like ice cream, but do it anyway.
What I have personally found to be the most effective way to get rid of a relentless craving is to take a hot shower.
The water must be hot -- not so hot that you burn your skin but hot enough that it is on the verge of feeling uncomfortable.
Let the water run over your back and shoulders and let it heat you up. Stay there at least 5-10 minutes.
By the time you step out of the shower, you are likely to have a "dazed" feeling, like when you've been sitting in the sauna for a long time.
At that point, your craving will most likely be gone.
Another thing that can work is to go outside for a brisk walk.
If you are a runner, then running will be even better.
This serves a two-fold purpose. First of all, you are distancing yourself from the food that you are craving.
Second, the exercise will release endorphins, some "feel good" chemicals in your brain, which can help turn the craving off.
If you can't go outside, do a few exhausting sets of burpees, push ups, body weight squats or any other body weight exercise.
I am pretty sure that the 3 steps above would work for most people to shut down a sugar craving.
But of course, the best option by far is to try to prevent these cravings from showing up in the first place.
To do that, toss all junk foods out of your house. If you keep them within close reach, then you're just asking for trouble.
Also, if you eat healthy and exercise several times per week then chances are you won't get cravings nearly as often.
Here are some other methods you may find useful.
- Have a glass of water. Some people say that cravings can be caused by dehydration.
- Eat a fruit. Having a piece of fruit may help satisfy sugar cravings for some people. Bananas, apples, oranges work great.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners. If you feel that artificial sweeteners trigger cravings for you, then you might want to avoid them.
- Eat more protein. Protein is great for satiety, may help with cravings as well.
- Talk to a friend. Call/go meet someone who understands what you're going through. Explain that you're going through a craving and ask for a few words of encouragement.
- Sleep well. Getting proper, refreshing sleep is important for overall health and can help prevent cravings.
- Avoid excess stress. Same as with sleep, avoiding stress can help prevent cravings.
- Avoid certain triggers. Try to avoid specific activities or places that give you cravings, such as walking past McDonald's.
- Take a multivitamin. This will help prevent any deficiencies.
- Read your list. It can be very helpful to carry with you a list of the reasons you want to eat healthy, because it can be hard to remember such things when you get a craving.
- Don't starve yourself. Try to prevent yourself from becoming too hungry between meals.
If you can eat junk food every now and then without bingeing and without it ruining your progress, then do it.
That means you are one of the lucky people who can enjoy these things in moderation.
But if you are like me and just can not control yourself at all around such foods, then you should try to avoid them as much as possible.
Giving in to a craving will just feed the addiction.
If you manage to resist, the cravings will get weaker over time and eventually disappear.
I personally haven't touched sugar or gluten in over 5 months and I never get cravings anymore.
I've lost 14 kg (31 pounds) without any major effort and I haven't felt better in my entire life.
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