Nothing weakens diet willpower faster than craving sweet, salty, or fatty foods. Find out how to stop cravings and stay on your diet. Everybody has weak moments in their diet when they can practically taste the salty, sweet, crunchy, or fatty foods they crave. Yet these are often the very foods that undermine your efforts to lose weight. After all, when is the last time you complained about craving cauliflower? Follow these strategies to stop cravings in their tracks.
10 Ways to Stop Cravings
1. Get enough sleep. Loss of sleep increases hunger during the day, which leads to cravings. Getting the right amount of shut-eye could stop cravings.
2. Eat a healthy breakfast. For some people, cravings are part of a cycle of blood sugar highs and lows that can be kicked off almost the moment their feet hit the floor in the morning. A breakfast featuring fiber and protein is more likely to control this cycle. Consider a scrambled egg on whole-wheat bread or a turkey sandwich instead of sugary cereal or a Danish.
3. Fight hunger. “The core [to fighting cravings] is hunger suppression, since hunger amplifies other triggers,” says nutrition researcher Susan B. Roberts, PhD, a senior scientist at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. If you often feel hungry on your diet you may want to revisit your diet plan. You might do better eating more frequent, smaller, balanced meals throughout the day or eating more of the foods that will keep you full longer, like whole grains and vegetables.
4. Eat meals at scheduled times. The secret to stopping cravings is to manage hunger and “only eating at set times — no casual eating,” says Roberts.
5. Budget cravings into your diet. “Craved foods can be incorporated into meals if they are used as the 100-calorie treat allowance, but only in the middle of meals, never alone as snacks, when they are too hard to control,” says Roberts, author of The Instinct Diet: Use Your Five Food Instincts to Lose Weight and Keep it Off (Workman Publishing Company, 2008).
6. Make the foods you crave difficult or impossible to get to. No matter how much you love brownies, if you don’t keep any at home or at work, chances are your craving will pass unsatisfied. Instead, make healthy alternatives easy to access in your eating plan and prepare ahead for those times when you’ll need a healthy snack within easy reach, like when you’re on the road.
7. Find healthy alternatives. If you tend to crave sweet treats in the afternoon, having a light yogurt and some fruit on hand could prevent a mad rush to the vending machine for a chocolate bar. “I think the best way to replace a craving is with something similar that has fewer calories and more fiber — you fill up on a similar taste, but the food is digested slowly to reduce craving over time,” advises Roberts. In a pinch, you could melt a little chocolate over high-fiber cereal and have it with milk — you get the chocolate taste but with more fiber, says Roberts. If you're craving salty chips, Roberts suggests, “have some with meals — a whole-wheat sandwich and salad, not chips alone — so they are more manageable.”
8. Keep a food journal. This may not totally stop cravings, but it could keep you from acting on them if the thought of writing down the calorie and fat content of a steak is more painful than going without it. A food journal will also help you identify the times of day when your cravings are the strongest.
9. Identify your craving triggers. Emotional eating is a real phenomenon. If you pay attention, you may find that your cravings are worse when you are stressed or depressed. Managing those situations will help stop cravings.
10. Eat a varied diet. Sticking to the tried-and-true may help you count calories, but it could also leave you feeling unfulfilled. People need variety in their diets, so try new dishes or combinations of foods to stop cravings. Just because you’re on a diet doesn’t mean it can’t be satisfying.
By Madeline Vann, MPH | Medically reviewed by Christine Wilmsen Craig, MD
Sometimes we mistake pleasure for happiness, but it is possible to have one without the other. Pleasure is a stimulation of the five senses that comes from external people, places and things. Happiness is something that exists within you. It is a supernal energy that no one can take away from you unless you let them. The only illusion we must overcome to find happiness is the one that convinces us that it originates from an outside source.
No one wakes up in the morning thinking, "I wish I could suffer all day, and if possible my whole life." We all strive, consciously or unconsciously, competently or clumsily, to be happier and to suffer less. Nevertheless, we often confuse genuine happiness with merely seeking enjoyable feelings. Happiness is a state of inner fulfillment, not the gratification of inexhaustible desires for outward things. The universe is not a mail-order catalogue for our desires and fancies.
Happiness is often equated with a maximization of pleasure, and some imagine that true happiness would consist of an interrupted succession of pleasurable experiences. This sounds more like a recipe for exhaustion than for genuine happiness. There is no reason to deprive ourselves of the enjoyment of a magnificent landscape, of swimming in the sea or of the scent of a rose, but we must understand that the experience of pleasure is dependent upon circumstance, on a specific location or moment in time. It is unstable by nature, and the sensation it evokes can soon become neutral or even unpleasant.
Unlike pleasure, genuine happiness may be influenced by circumstance, but it isn't dependent on it. It actually gives us the inner resources to deal better with those circumstances.
Thus, happiness is rather an optimal way of being, an exceptionally healthy state of mind that underlies and suffuses all emotional states, that embraces all the joys and sorrows that come one's way. This way of being comes together with a cluster of human qualities, such as altruistic love, compassion, inner peace, inner strength, and wisdom, which can be cultivated. Happiness is a skill that requires effort and time.
It is the mind that translates good and bad circumstances into happiness or misery. So happiness comes with the purging of mental toxins, such as hatred, compulsive desire, arrogance and jealousy, which literally poison the mind. It also requires that one cease to distort reality and that one cultivate wisdom.
Moreover, we can never be truly happy if we dissociate ourselves from the happiness of others. The pursuit of selfish happiness is bound to fail. It is a lose-lose situation in which we make ourselves miserable and create misery around us. This in no way requires us to neglect our own happiness. Our desire for happiness is as legitimate as anyone else's. We must realize that in the deepest part of ourselves, we fear suffering and aspire to happiness. We should then realize that all sentient beings want to avoid suffering just as much as we do. This should lead to the strong aspiration to do whatever we can to ease other's suffering and contribute to their lasting well-being.
“Happiness depends upon ourselves.”
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