How to Stop Cravings and Control Your Diet

Chocolate Craving© iStockphoto/Thinkstock
Sometimes it seems as if no matter how much we have, we want more. But getting it isn’t necessarily good for us — just look in the closet, the garage, or the rental unit at the U-Store-It Village. Or look at your middle in the mirror. In fact, let’s start there, since food cravings can be especially destructive to your health. Here’s how to control them.

Determine what you’re really hungry for.
The next time you get a craving, ask yourself if you’re stressed, sad, or bored. If so, you may be eating to fill an emotional void. Keep a “desire diary” for a week or more, and note your mood whenever you’re hit by an irresistible urge to chow down. If stress is your trigger, exercise more to relieve the pressure. If loneliness drives you to the Doritos bag, call someone. Remember that true hunger is easy to satisfy; any food will do. Emotional hunger, on the other hand, often manifests itself in desires for specific things like ice cream and fast food.

Get off the energy roller coaster.
A second big cause of ravenous cravings is a diet that’s too full of refined carbohydrates, which can produce drops in blood sugar that prompt hunger. If you have a doughnut for breakfast, you’ll get a nice jolt of energy from the sugar and simple carbs, but by mid-morning, you’ll be craving more. To stabilize blood sugar and appetite, start eating more protein and fiber. Tomorrow, try eggs and whole wheat toast for breakfast or a bowl of fiber-rich cereal with nuts, and see how easily you make it to lunch.

Stay hydrated.
Many people think they’re hungry when they’re actually thirsty. Drink a glass of water and wait a few minutes to see if your craving subsides.

Distract yourself.
Taste buds have a very short attention span. Pop a mint, brush your teeth, check e-mail, call a friend, or take a walk. In many cases, you’ll find you weren’t really hungry.

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