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Help Cut Cravings

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For those of you (like ME!!) that struggle with cravings, I found a great article from Fitbie that will provide you with several options to fight cravings.  I’ve tried most of these and they do work.

Psych yourself thin! When cravings crop up, use these mental tricks and proactive strategies to take the focus off of food

Whether you’ve fallen into an afternoon slump or you’re attempting to keep busy during a boring weekend at home, the urge to treat yourself to something sweet (or salty, or chewy, or crunchy) can be hard to resist, especially when images of food are everywhere. (Search: Why do we eat when we’re not hungry?) While you could set out to conceal every morsel of chocolate within a 5-mile radius, an easier way to battle the brain buzz is to change what goes on inside your head when a craving hits. “Sometimes we can’t really control our thoughts. It’s more a matter of how we react to them, rather than getting rid of them” says Sofia Rydin-Gray, PhD, a licensed psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center. Here, seven strategies that will help you channel your food fixations in ways that won’t make you gain.

Make a Plan

Stop cravings before they surface by deciding ahead of time what you will eat and when. “If you already have a plan and you start thinking about food, you [can focus on] your plan and not the Snickers bar in the vending machine,” says Jason Machowsky, MS, RD, CSCS, owner of JM Wellness, author of Savor Fitness & Nutrition wellness blog, and chief education officer of MyBodyTutor. Machowsky also recommends stockpiling healthy snack options for those times unexpected cravings hit. (Video: A healthy 60-second snack) When crafting a meal plan, incorporate small portions of foods that you regularly crave, suggests Rydin-Gray. “If we don’t allow ourselves to have them, we will really be preoccupied,” she says.

Gulp a Glass of Water

A cheap and easy way to satisfy cravings is to down one or more glasses of ice-cold water. Drinking a glass of H2O can help determine if your food fixation is a product of real hunger or simply thirst, says Machowsky. (Related: 12 Ways to Make Water Less Boring) If you’re still hungry 15 minutes after drinking a glass, opt for a healthy snack, as your stomach grumblings are likely legit. If you’re satisfied by water, hydration is probably what your body needed. “Often when you’re thirsty, you’ll want to eat because your body is looking to get water in any way it can,” says Machowsky. “When you give your body the water it needs, it can take away hunger.”

Be as Productive as Possible

When your 9-to-5 is repetitive in nature or affords you free time, it’s easy to become distracted—by a ridiculous YouTube video—or those Twizzlers in the vending machine. But instead of using treats to wake up your workday, find ways to do away with downtime. Asking your supervisor for more work can have a trickle-down effect that extends past a slimmer waistline, says Machowsky. “You might also get a raise or promoted because you’re doing extra work.”

Take Up Knitting

Taking on a small, simple hobby can make overwhelming food desires flit away. In a 2009 University of British Columbia study, 38 women who started knitting reported that they were less anxious about food. Knitting lowered participants’ stress levels while they reported that the craft had a calming, therapeutic effect. What’s more, 53% of the women said that knitting provided them with satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. Not nimble enough for knitting needles? Try other soothing activities such as looking through vacation photos, listening to music, or working on a puzzle to keep food from becoming a quick fix for stress, suggests Rydin-Gray.

Think About Your Goals

Instead of letting temptations take you down, use them to your advantage. In 2003, a set of five studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that tempting items activate your mind to think about your goals. In one study, 72 women were instructed to wait in one of three office lobbies: One was primed to encourage participants to think about exercise, another contained cues about fattening foods, and a third contained political and economic information. After answering questions in an adjoining office, participants were offered a parting gift of either an apple or a Twix bar. Those women exposed to exercise or fattening-food primers were more likely to choose the apple.

Move It!

One more way that sitting for long periods harms your health: A sedentary mind and body falls victim to food cravings more easily. Move more by getting out of your chair every half hour, Machowsky recommends. Routinely stretching or making small movements can help you stay more mentally focused on the task at hand instead of fixating on food, he explains. Try standing up and sitting down in your chair 10 times or modify downward dog by standing up and pressing your palms on your desk or a table as you bend forward, suggests Machowsky

Keep a Journal

Writing down what food you want and when can help you identify what you really need at that moment. “It forces the logical side of your brain to ask, ‘Do I really want this food?’ or ‘Is there a better option?’” says Machowsky. What’s more, looking back on your journal entries can help you identify the triggers of your cravings and whether they are psychological or physiological. Maybe on days you skip breakfast, you notice an 11 a.m. trip to the cafeteria (and not for an egg white omelet). Or perhaps when you leave work, stress leads to a predinner snack binge. In your food journal note your craving, the time of day, how you’re feeling, and what’s going on right then in your day, suggests Machowsky. Rydin-Gray recommends including details about your social environment as well. “Sometimes it’s particular people who trigger something,” she says.


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