Do you want to get healthy but can’t seem to shake your cravings for junk food and sweets? Don’t worry! There are multiple effective ways to combat them. We’ve compiled a list of the five best techniques to curb unhealthy cravings.
Check them out below to get back on track with clean eating habits.
1. Prep meals every week.
Always plan out and prepare your meals for the week in advance. That way, you can control everything you eat in a single day, stay consistent with weight-loss goals, and reduce the likelihood of succumbing to a random craving. Plus, you can make your own snacks if you need small bursts of fuel throughout the day. Subsequently, meal prepping removes the temptation of impulsively buying takeout or grocery shopping when hungry.
2. Increase your protein intake.
According to a study published in Nutrition Journal, an experiment found that participants who ate high-protein breakfasts—in comparison to those who did not—increased their homovanillic acid (HVA) levels, a metabolite for dopamine. When dopamine is released from eating protein, it reduces the desire to satisfy yourself with food for emotional fulfillment as opposed to actual need. Therefore, the next time you’re at the grocery store, don’t be shy about stocking up on meats or other proteins.
3. Use healthy coping mechanisms for stress.
Ever feel a need to eat some comfort food? That’s a result of stress! The reason: stress kick-starts the production of the hormone cortisol, which inherently increases your appetite and makes the body believe it needs to stock up on energy in the form of food to fight the stress it is currently experiencing. In addition, when we’re stressed, we’re not exactly clear-minded and will want to eat something that tastes good—which admittedly may not be the healthiest meal.
4. Catch up on some z’s.
Are you getting enough sleep every night? Sleep deprivation throws off your appetite and metabolism, thus making you more likely to give in to the munchies or a midnight snack. When we sleep, we regulate the hormone leptin, which tells our bodies that we are full after a meal. If our sleep schedule gets disturbed or we shorten the amount of time we sleep, we produce less leptin, which makes us more susceptible to overeating throughout the day.
5. Substitute healthy alternatives for cravings.
Think of the foods or drinks you want to eliminate from your diet: i.e., soda, sugary treats, fried food, etc., and opt for replacing them with healthy alternatives instead. Our bodies naturally become addicted to junk food due to the excess sugar or salt that triggers the reward system in our brains. However, we can fight those cravings with healthy alternatives such as choosing to only hydrate with water, satisfying our sweet tooth by eating fruit, and consuming vegetables with high levels of protein, vitamins, and minerals. This will ease the inclination to consume salty meals, which also decreases the brain’s desire to seek reward in the form of unhealthy food.
It may seem difficult to kick cravings to the curb, but it is possible! All you need are the right strategies to combat them. Over time, cravings eventually diminish with consistent effort toward eating healthy food and taking care of one’s emotional and physical well-being. Don’t let negative thinking or mistakes bring you down; you will succeed in meeting your health goals!