Our last post about not letting food cravings ruin your weight loss progress really struck a nerve. “Give us more!” you said. OK, here’s more.
Let’s recap: It’s 2:00 p.m. and your brain says, “Cheetos time!”
Summoning a bit of willpower, you open your desk drawer only to find some boring granola bars and a box of month-old dried gritty raisins. You know you should probably choose the granola bar, yet you yearn for the salty, crunchy, finger-staining snack.
What do you do?
Here are more tips for avoiding the “I have to have it” pitfalls.
You may find that some of these tactics work, and some of them don’t. The key is to try them and if one or more of them work – victory!
1.) Distraction. Wear a rubber band on your wrist and snap it every time you want to visit the vending machine. Wait. No. Pain isn’t the best option. Scratch that.
Instead, call a friend or take a walk. It may be that your food craving is more emotional or habitual than anything else. Try and clear your mind and focus on something else. Chances are, you’re not as hungry as you think. If nothing else, drink a glass of water first and see how you feel.
2.) Substitution. Find a healthy alternative for the snack you crave. And yes, they DO exist. If it’s something crunchy, try foods like sugar-snap peas or carrots. They may not be salty like chips but if you’re in the mood to crunch, they should do the trick. Eat them with a tiny bit of ranch dip if you want the extra flavor. (Sugar snap peas also do wonders if you love sweets, like we do.)
If it’s something creamy and sweet you long for, try healthy yogurt or low-fat pudding products. Many of them are sugar-free or low-sugar and low-calorie, giving you a wiser option and preventing a trip to the freezer for a pint of Haagen Daas. The goal is to find a healthier alternative that still satisfies your craving, always keeping portion sizes in control.
3.) Keep junk food out of the house. If you don’t see it or if you know it isn’t there, you’ll be less inclined to want it. And if you have to really go out of your way to get it, maybe it’s just not worth it.
BUT… if it’s something you absolutely must have and your mind won’t allow you to forget about it, make a trip to the store and get a single-serving amount. McDonald’s has great low-fat frozen yogurt cones on the cheap, or if it’s something salt-laden you can’t live without, pick up one of those little snack-size chip bags you see at the end of grocery store aisles. Avoid getting full-size packages that will only tempt you later. Remember: Giving in once in a while isn’t destructive. In fact, it can even be a reward for success. But consciously giving in means a tiny treat, not Calorie Fest 2011 that you’ll regret later.
4.) Try chewing gum. Sometimes just the act of chewing gum or sucking on sugar-free hard candies can suffice. It will keep your mouth busy and your brain happy! (There’s even a mint chocolate chip ice cream flavor gum that deliciously tastes like the real thing.)
5.) Don’t get too hungry. This is a critical tip worth repeating. If you go for a long time without eating, you will most likely become so ravenous that you’ll grab anything within reach, inhaling it without realizing you’ve just committed a caloric catastrophy. Instead, snack throughout the day. If you are going to be on the road or away from your refrigerator, bring baggies of foods like nuts or veggies. Fruit also makes an easy portable snack.
With a little planning, you will be well on your way to preventing those food cravings taking control of you and your waistline.
Now go wash the cheese powder off your fingers.