Thursday, January 24, 2008

How To Clobber Cravings When You're Not Hungry

The other day I had a craving for something salty and crunchy. But I also realized that I had eaten a little while before and wasn't really hungry. Knowing that enabled me to sidestep the vending machine at work and settle for a stick of gum to help me get through the craving.

Here are some of the ways that I use to try and ward off those cravings when I know that I'm not hungry.

Think First
When that craving first hits, take a moment to assess whether or not you're really hungry. Cravings can be about more than food. Boredom, stress, emotions, habits, smells and many other stimuli can trigger killer cravings. Thinking about why you crave a certain food may enable you to control that craving.

Wait It Out
Sometimes, just waiting ten to fifteen minutes after experiencing the first signs of a craving may be enough time for it to pass on its own. This strategy may help when the craving is triggered by an old habit such as having a snack while watching TV.

Keep Busy
Cravings are notorious for showing up when you're bored. Doing something that requires your full attention is a good tact for distracting that craving right out of your system!

Drink Water
Drinking water can also help combat your cravings. It can help you achieve a certain level of fullness, in effect telling your body that it doesn't want anything else. And it does this without adding a single calorie to your daily allotment.

Chew gum
The act of chewing gum, preferably sugar free, can also trigger physical reactions that can help you soothe your craving. The release of extra saliva coupled with the chewing action may be enough to head that craving off.

One Bite
If nothing seems to be helping and if you feel you have the internal fortitude to submit to one small taste of the food you're craving without losing control, you may want to go ahead and indulge for one bite. That is often enough to satisfy a craving without taking too big of a calorie hit. And better a small taste now than an all out binge if you try to deprive yourself of all your cravings.

That wraps it up. I hope I've given you some good ideas on how to deal with whatever craving you're hit with next. Good luck!


Kathy said...

I have a few substitutions that work for me...frozen grapes for ice slices with cinnamon for apple pie...air-popped popcorn with taco seasoning and salt for chips...bean dip with carrot sticks.

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

Great post! I would add "reading weight-loss blogs," which is what I do during my lunch break if I don't leave the office and is what I do if I get snacky at the office. I'm always mindful of what I'm eating when I'm reading people's struggles and successes.

Skinny Guy said...

Sally, it's always helpful when you know that there are folks out there going through the same things that you are.

Kathy, I had plenty of options to nip that craving the other day with different things that would have taken the edge off. The problem was that I wasn't hungry at all, and I didn't want to eat something just because.

skinnybitch said...

For me, cravings without real hunger are often indicators that I'm uncomfortable in some way. I find I crave carbs or sweets when I'm physically cold. In these situations, taking a hot shower or drinking some hot tea is usually enough to make me feel better.

I also tend to crave junk food when I feel particularly stressed or tired. Sometimes a nap or a few minutes to just relax is all I need. I think it helps, too, to get out of the house for a short walk.

Just being aware that my emotional state can trigger food cravings is empowering. As you say, it's always good to stop and think about why you're craving a particular food. Is it hunger? Stress? Loneliness? Physical discomfort? Knowing the source of the craving can really help me come up with ways that get to the root of the problem rather than "treating the symptoms" with food.

Jake Silver said...

That was fantastic. Also, while it's not exactly "healthy", I definitely use Diet Soda to get me thru in a pinch. The sweetness and the caffiene knocks out my cravings.

I have this trick I do where I say "Could I go for some celery or an apple?" and if YES, maybe I have real hunger. But if NO, its just a craving.

Dinah Soar said...

Good points skinny guy. I came across at tip that helps identify if its a craving or real hunger--if your wanting one particular food it's likely a craving, but if anything sounds good you're probably hungry.

When I figure out it's just a craving I talk to myself...say something like "you don't need to eat, you're not hungry". Sometimes I listen and other times I don't! hahaha....when I do cave I try to keep it low cal so there's not too much damage.

Skinny Guy said...

Thanks for all the great tips, everyone!