POV: you’re in line at Chick Fil A, telling yourself for the millionth time that you’ll start eating healthier tomorrow. For real this time. Because who can say no to a Spicy Deluxe meal? Certainly not I.
But, what can we do to tackle junk food cravings before they consume us and have us at the nearest drive-thru? And why is it so much easier to crave a large fry over a salad?
There are definitely ways to help cut the intensity of those buggy cravings and make better, healthier decisions.
1. drink more water
Did you know that your brain actually sends you “thirst” signals when you need to drink water? That’s because being properly hydrated is a non-negotiable, as far as your body is concerned. It’s just as essential as the oxygen we breathe.
But sometimes, we can actually misinterpret these signals as a sign of hunger, not thirst. And this will often manifest itself in the form of a craving for a specific food.
Next time you find yourself suddenly salivating over the thought of something super salty or sweet, try downing a glass of water. Wait for a few, then see whether that craving hasn’t died out. There’s a really good chance it will.
2. get enough sleep
There’s been tons of research done on how sleep deprivation can increase the odds of a person experiencing cravings – especially, higher calorie foods. That’s because sleep (or the lack thereof) directly impacts the hormones that regulate appetite and hunger.
- Ghrelin: in charge of telling your brain, “hey! I’m hungry, eat something.”
- Leptin: in charge of telling your brain, “hey! Stop eating, I’m full.”
- Insulin: we’re all probably a little familiar with this one. Insulin regulates the amount of sugar in the blood and is what helps turn the food we eat into energy.
Lack of adequate sleep can directly impact the way these hormones function, resulting in overeating and increased fat storage versus people who get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
3. meal planning
Now, we know this one can be a tad idyllic for some, but if you’re in a position where meal prepping is a plausible task for you, we highly recommend that you do it!
Knowing where your next meal is coming from immediately mitigates a lot of the mind wandering we associate with the dreaded question, “what do I want to eat?” It also helps close us off from the possibility of wanting to opt for a maybe not-so-great choice when it comes to food.
4. avoid grocery shopping while hungry
This is just a cardinal rule. How many times have you gone to the supermarket, insane with hunger, and left with absolutely nothing but every single snacky food that looked good at that time? Because did you really HAVE to buy Swedish Fish flavored Oreos? Probably not. And yes, that is actually a thing.
But, it’s very true what they say about “eating with your eyes first.” Literally, EVERYTHING looks good when you’re already hungry. And it’s also when we’re least likely to make health-conscious decisions.
So, when it comes to grocery shopping, SAVE IT until after you’ve eaten.
5. practice mindful eating
It’s 2022 – how exactly does anyone expect us to eat ANYTHING without our fave Netflix series on repeat or watching some random YouTuber buy a $17 smoothie from Erewhon? As intimidating as a quiet meal can seem, this tip can be a real lifesaver – especially if you’re a snacker.
Simply put, when we’re not focused on eating, many of us have a tendency to overeat. Purely because we’re simply not paying attention to how much we’re actually consuming.
Dining while working, answering emails, or watching TV makes eating a mindless task. Food to mouth, repeat. Repeat again. Before you know it, you’re on your last Cheez-It.
Taking the time to sit, chew, and actually enjoy your food will leave you feeling much more satisfied and likely without eating as much.