10 ways to beat food cravings
How to stay on track with your health goals when the 3 pm slump kicks in, and you’re craving a pick-me-up to fight off the yawns.
Tame those cravings and get through the afternoon without raiding the vending machine. We asked Accredited Practising Dietitian, Ashleigh Jones, for her best tips to help you manage food cravings and keep your energy levels elevated so you can stay on track to reaching your goals.
1. Choose balanced meals and snacks
Before you reach for sugar loaded snacks, take a moment to assess all of your meals and what might be causing your hunger levels to spike at certain times of the day. Eating a healthy, protein-rich meal is especially good for curbing hunger. Ashleigh says it’s important to aim for a balance of nutrients in every meal. “This will help you keep full for longer and balance your blood sugar levels. Choose protein sources such as lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy products and tofu. Include healthy fats such as nuts, olive oil and avocado, and whole grain or low GI carbohydrate sources such as multigrain bread, rice, sweet potatoes and pasta. And don’t forget to include non-starchy vegetables, which are so important for keeping you full and healthy!”
2. Reduce your stress
If you’re an emotional eater, don’t worry, you’re not alone! Ashleigh says it can be so easy to resort to chocolate and other sweet treats when you’ve had a tough week at the office or dealing with life’s many stresses. Practising relaxation techniques are a far better way to deal with stress rather than food. These techniques can include exercise, taking a bath, guided relaxation apps or chatting to a friend.
3. Drink enough water
Drinking enough water can also help when dealing with cravings. Make it easy to stay hydrated by keeping a water bottle in your bag and at your desk. Ashleigh suggests adding some fresh herbs, citrus fruit, berries or sliced cucumber to your water to make it a bit more interesting. Or brew some herbal tea, which can be enjoyed hot or cold. This can help take the edge off your cravings without the extra calories.
4. Healthy swaps
If you’re surrounded by temptation, why not make some healthy swaps? This can help to satisfy your cravings with some healthier options. Ashleigh recommends keeping healthy alternatives on hand so that it’s easy for you to make a healthier choice. Try some carrot sticks with hummus or tzatziki, a small portion of cheese and whole grain crackers or some natural yoghurt with berries.
5. Plan times to indulge
Have you ever noticed that once you decide a food is completely off-limits, it’s the only thing you want to eat? Completely depriving yourself can sometimes have negative consequences and lead to bingeing, so it can be a good idea to plan a time to indulge. Whether it’s a meal at your favourite restaurant or ice cream with the kids on the weekend, planning small, occasional treats helps you to stay on track 90% of the time, and to enjoy these planned treats without overindulging.
6. Get enough sleep
A bad night’s sleep can impact the hormones that control our appetite and can increase the desire to reach for junk food to boost our energy. Getting eight hours of sleep can reduce stress, improve productivity and concentration. It can also help weight loss efforts. Set yourself a regular bedtime, and try to turn off the screens at least 30 minutes before bed to ensure a restful night’s sleep.
7. Make a meal plan
Reduce the temptation of takeaway and meal delivery apps by planning your meals for the upcoming week. By being prepared, you can eliminate any last minute decisions to eat unhealthy options and will be less tempted and less likely to experience cravings. Ashleigh says that planning your meals will also help you to save money, as you are less likely to double-up on ingredients you already have at home or purchase expensive convenience options.
8. Go for a walk
Sometimes we just need a break. Research has have shown a burst of activity like a walk can help to combat fatigue, reduce stress and boost productivity in the office. Going for a walk can be a win-win, it will distance you from any foods you’re craving (hello office biscuit barrel!) and also release endorphins that can switch off your cravings and boost your energy.
9. Chew some gum
If you’re a serial snacker, ask yourself whether you’re actually hungry or if it’s behavioural? Research shows that chewing gum can reduce the food cravings that have you reaching for snack foods. Next time you feel a craving, pop a piece of sugar-free gum in your mouth and see if this wards off those cravings.
10. Forgive and forget
We’re all human, and sometimes we fall off the wagon, especially in the early stages of a new healthy eating plan. It’s important not to beat yourself up and instead, focus on getting back on track with your goals. Avoid any guilt-trips and negative talk and work out what you can do now, not tomorrow or Monday, to get back on track. Maybe you can go for a short walk to clear your head or make a point to eat more vegetables or lean protein at your next meal. Avoid black and white thinking, and remember that one off-plan meal will not ruin all of your hard work! If you need to stay motivated after a week of kicking those cravings, check out these calorie free rewards.
Why Lite n’ Easy
Lite n’ Easy meals plans don’t deprive you of the foods you love. With an ever-changing menu with healthy versions of pizza, burgers, nachos, chocolate cake and snacks, it means you can stay on top of your weight goals without sacrificing on taste. Check out our plans today and see for yourself.
Ashleigh Jones is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with extensive dietetics experience working across hospitals, corporate health, private practice and the food industry. A published researcher, she has collaborated actively across several disciplines including genetics, multiple sclerosis and sports nutrition. Ashleigh specialises in endocrine disorders with particular interest in weight management, pituitary and thyroid disorders, and management of diabetes. Ashleigh is passionate about promoting healthy habits, especially for busy people and offers simple and sustainable nutrition solutions.