Play a game on your smartphone
Cravings typically last for ten minutes so try to distract yourself with something simple like playing a game on your phone. In a study in Addictive Behaviors, volunteers reported when they had cravings for food, coffee, alcohol, sleep, and more. They were also randomly sent texts throughout the week telling them to play Tetris on an iPod. After playing the game, participants’ craving levels dropped by about 20 percent. “Playing a visually interesting game like Tetris occupies the mental processes that support that imagery,” study author Jackie Andrade, a psychology professor at the University of Plymouth said. “It is hard to imagine something vividly and play Tetris at the same time.” Make sure you know what your food cravings can reveal about your health.
Take a walk
iStock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund
A University of Exeter study found that walking briskly for 15 minutes reduced cravings for chocolate—the most commonly reported food craving—during the walk and for at least 10 minutes afterward. The researchers say exercise could alter brain chemicals that help regulate cravings.
Consider the consequences
One study had participants use four different thinking strategies to overcome the urge to eat: thinking about something else, recognizing they don’t need to act on their thoughts, considering the negative long-term effects, or considering the immediate reward of the food. Remembering the long-term consequences of eating the food reduced the craving the most, the study found. If you’re dieting, here are 6 ways to curb pesky cravings without skipping a meal.