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5 Mistakes You Do That Make Cravings Worse

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Cravings—such a dirty word when you’re trying to lose weight or keep it off. Learn the 10 biggest mistakes that make cravings even worse to get yours under control.

Skipping Breakfast

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Maybe you’re not hungry in the a.m., but eating some calories now can keep cravings at bay later. In one study in the Nutrition Journal, overweight girls who ate a 350-calorie breakfast with at least 13 grams of protein had reduced cravings for sweet and savory foods compared to breakfast skippers. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why, but protein may help stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurochemical involved in the brain’s reward centers that can help manage cravings. A half-cup of cottage cheese, 2 hard-boiled eggs, or a cup of cooked oatmeal with two tablespoons of peanut butter will do the trick.

Not Controlling Portion

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You’ve got a craving for brownies, you’re going to have some, and you’re okay with that. So you take three. Thing is, you probably only needed half, suggests a 2013 study from Cornell University. Research on 104 students found that people who were given small snack-sized portions of chocolate, apple pie, or potato chips reported feeling as satisfied as those presented with larger servings—and they ate 76.8% fewer calories. So take a small serving, eat it and enjoy, and then wait 15 minutes until the yearning for more subsides.

You Don’t Eat Anything

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Craving candy? Try eating a bowl of super-sweet sliced strawberries. What about chips? Crunch on salted, in-shell pistachios. Substituting what you’re jonesing for with a similar-tasting healthy equivalent should be enough to satisfy you, says Marisa Moore, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Cravings are short-lived and soon you’ll forget about it but will have helped your health with a good snack. It’s a win-win,” she says. However, if chips—and only chips—will do, count out one serving, eat them slowly, and be done.

Unexplainable Urge To Snack

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You can’t get your hand out of the bag of cheesy crackers. If you don’t understand why, you can’t do anything about it, says Christine Palumbo, RD, a faculty member of Benedictine University in Lisle, IL. She recommends keeping a cravings journal. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy—just jot down a few notes on your phone. When a craving hits, log your emotions: you’re tired, anxious, stressed, bored. Eventually, you’ll pick out common patterns, and you can deal with the causes head on, rather than trying to eat as a solution.

You Keep Temptation Around

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The mental battle between you and the box of cookies in the pantry does not have to be fought every day. “Out of sight, out of mind,” says Moore. “If it’s 10 p.m. and you want a cookie, you’re probably not going to go out and get some,” she says. On the other hand, if they’re staring you in the face every time you open the pantry, it’s all too easy to grab one. If your family insists you keep foods like cookies in the house, at least move them to the back of the pantry. Hide them behind the box of fruit-and-nut bars, so you see those first. And avoid buying crave-worthy snack foods in bulk from warehouse stores, adds Palumbo, since the more you have around, the more you’ll eat.-Health.com

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