Don’t Skip Meals
Hunger is a fast track to cravings; you’ll succumb to bad choices if you have a growling tummy. Eat a good breakfast and lunch and keep energy levels topped up throughout the day. Eat earlier if you have to. It might be an hour til dinner, but if you’re ravenous, avoid snacking and go straight to a proper meal. Find something healthy, warm and easy to cook. A stir fry, omelette or beans on toast are speedy but satisfying.
Banish the Beige
Getting treats in ‘for kids or visitors’…really? You don’t need sugary, fatty snacks in the house. Just don’t buy them! Shop for fresh alternatives and keep them handy. Grapes and apples are instant, hydrating, fibre-rich nibbles. Bananas are great when you’re hungry and need a sugar fix. Nutrient-heavy nuts, in small doses, help to quell hunger pangs. Go for a small handful of unsalted almonds, cashews or pistachios for a natural energy boost.
Cravings are often linked to daily habits, so shake up your routine. When you get in from work, instead of reaching for the kettle and biscuit tin, go and get changed. Wash your face or have a shower. Brushing your teeth can also delay temptation. Go for a walk or read a book for ten minutes – usually that’s all it takes to quash that urge to stuff your face. If you’re still craving something, grab a piece of wholemeal toast or just start cooking your main meal.
Put some thought into your snacks and meals. Prepare and present them with a bit of love, eat from a plate using cutlery and sit at the table, not at a screen. Chew your food slowly and season it, so it’s hitting your taste buds and not just filling a hole.
Often we think we’re starving when actually we’re thirsty. Dehydration is a one of the most common cause of sugar cravings. When temptation hits, try downing a glass of water first. Water, or watery fruit like melons and berries, can flush us out, boost our metabolism and sometimes curb our appetite.
Know Your Triggers
For some people, moods and mental health can have a huge influence on food choices. It can dominate your day just thinking about them. Unpicking all the motives can be complex. Learning to manage food triggers and emotional eating is not easy. But try and work out why you’re so desperate for chocolate. Is it just that time of day? Are you hormonal, stressed, tired, sad, bored or upset? Will that bag of crisps or slab of cake really make you feel better in ten minutes time? Could something (or someone) else help you feel better right now?
Mute the Night-time Munchies
The evening is a classic time for cravings. A hunk of cheese in front of your favourite box set? It’s your downtime, the kids are in bed… hell yes, bring out the cheddar. Then a little treat turns into a big treat. Try brushing your teeth or making a herbal tea before you slump on the sofa. Better still, head to bed with a book and you’ll forget about bedtime snacks! An early night is also a good calorie burner. You’ll avoid a late night binge and will be more able to resist junk the next day if you’ve had a decent night’s sleep.
Just Go With It
Ok you’ve tried your best, but you are still obsessing. Just go with the craving. Avoid poor alternatives and stick to small doses. Ten sugary rice cakes are not going to be the same as that Snickers bar. You’ll probably take in the same sugary calories but still feel unsatisfied. Go for dark chocolate, big on taste but lower in moreish fats and sugar. And try moderation; it’s not easy, but put it away after two bites and busy yourself with something else. After ten minutes, are you that desperate for more?