By Chris Lee
Curbing cravings is hard. Sometimes it feels like the healthier your lifestyle the more your brain tells you to snack on sugary treats. It can be disheartening and discouraging, to the point that you may be tempted to give up on your newfound healthy approach altogether.
But it doesn’t need to be this way.
If you want to burn fat and stay in the zone while keeping cravings firmly at bay, here’s how to do it:
Water is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. Drinking eight glasses a day, around 8 ounces each, helps ensure that your body has all the fluid it needs to run smoothly.
If you workout to the point where you break a sweat, you’ll need to drink a little extra to compensate for that lost water, too.
When it comes to food cravings, water has a role to play as well. By taking up space in your stomach it stimulates the receptors that make you feel full, meaning your brain will generate fewer feelings of hunger.
Switch to Healthy Snacks
When you’ve got sugar cravings, that’s your body saying “Hey! I need some extra energy!” Ignoring your body’s requests for energy is okay for a little while, but eventually you’ll need to get some back into your system.
But before you reach for a candy bar or a bag of chips, try to choose something healthier instead. Something that will curb your sugar cravings while also providing a burst of healthy vitamins and minerals.
Here are some popular contenders:
- A handful of unsalted, unroasted nuts: Full of good fats, fiber, and protein;
- Fruit: Hydrating, refreshing, and full of natural sugar that’s way healthier than candy;
- Flapjack: Energizing oats bound together by sugary honey provide quick and slow; release energy to keep you going even longer until the next meal.
There are tons of healthy snack lists online if you need a few ideas to get you started.
Go Easy on Yourself
Cravings are natural. In fact, scientific research suggests that women are more prone to cravings than men – so if you’re a woman reading this, go easy on yourself next time your cravings kick in!
By recognizing your body’s requests for energy and acknowledging them rather than berating yourself or telling yourself you’ve somehow ‘failed’, you set yourself up for a healthier response.
Instead of losing heart, show yourself kindness. Eat a healthy snack, try to incorporate some slow-release energy into your meal plan the following day to avoid similar cravings tomorrow, and learn from the experience.
Pick Up a Dietary Supplement
“Hey now,” we hear you say, “Aren’t supplements just designed to make a quick buck?”
There are a lot of misconceptions around this category of health supplement. And while some manufacturers are just looking to cash in on health-conscious consumers, many brands invest huge amounts of time and cash into creating formulations that work.
Taken alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise, this list includes some fat burners that can augment the weight loss results you see from a healthier lifestyle.
With cravings in mind, look for konjac fiber or glucomannan on the label. This natural fiber is a popular appetite suppressant that expands when it gets wet, leading to more stimulation of the fullness receptors in your stomach.
Eat More at Mealtimes
This may seem counterintuitive, especially if you’ve been trying to trim down your caloric intake, but hear us out.
Your body needs a certain amount of calories to fuel itself. Depending on your height, weight, and gender, this amount will vary between 1500 and 2500 calories a day, give or take. (Don’t take our word for it – use a calorie calculator to check how much you need.)
Cutting down the amount you eat is an important part of losing weight, but only if you were eating too much in the first place. Some people cut too much out of their breakfast, lunch, and dinner, meaning that their body doesn’t have enough fuel to get through the day.
In this situation, cravings are your body literally alerting you to the fact that it doesn’t have enough energy. Ignoring the call can lead to adverse health effects, and is not conducive to healthy weight loss.
So make sure that your meals contain enough calories to fuel your body, and to tide you over to the next mealtime. You’ll see the positive impact of this change immediately!
Sleep and appetite probably don’t feel too closely related, but they are. The hormones involved in hunger regulation follow your sleep cycle, and disruptions in sleep patterns can play havoc with their release.
Once these hormones are disrupted, they can throw your hunger response out of whack. You’re more prone to feel hungry, and you’ll feel less able to resist cravings when they do occur.
Telling someone to get a good sleep is often easier said than done, so if it’s something you struggle with, here are a few pointers –
- Try to keep your bedtime consistent: Routine is everything;
- Keep screens out of the bedroom, and try to limit use in the hours before sleep;
- Read a little bit in bed, and keep the lights low. Bright light prevents your body’s natural sleep processes from starting properly;
- Wear earplugs if you’re a light sleeper to minimize external disruption;
- Aim for at least 8 hours each night.
Sleep hygiene is tricky to get right, but it’s worth spending time on. It will have tremendous effects on every aspect of your life, from cravings to energy levels, and from mood to memory.
Cravings are no fun, but they don’t need to dominate your life. It’s possible to eat less, workout regularly, and live a healthy lifestyle without being haunted by the specter of cravings every day.
The tips in this guide should point you in the right direction. The exact balance of factors varies based on personal preference, our body’s individual needs, and the lifestyle goals we’re working towards.
But staying hydrated, being kind to yourself, being mindful about what you eat, and aiming to get a good sleep – these things are universal.